The Republicans’ last ditch effort to torpedo Obamacare has proven to be a spectacular failure and we are all worse off for it. By hook or by crook, the Affordable Care Act was passed, signed into law, and has withstood judicial scrutiny. Our country will never be the same.
Big business played no small role in creating this Frankenstein’s monster. Despite popular mythology, the pharmaceutical and insurance industries do not fear health care reform, certainly not of the variety that President Obama proposed. They welcome it with open arms. The so-called reforms were not passed over the strident objections of fat cats but rather with their generous financial assistance.
The Pharmaceutical Researchers and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) spent $26.1 million dollars lobbying for Obamacare in 2009 alone, the most expensive campaign by any industry lobby ever. The White House later coordinated with PhRMA on a $150 million ad campaign designed to sway public opinion in favor of the plan. It isn’t difficult to see why drug manufacturers would support Obamacare—the law requires employers to provide prescription drug coverage. If Congress passed a law requiring employers to provide cell phones to their employees, I think Motorola might be in favor of that.
What of insurance companies? Anyone who thinks that insurance companies hate Obamacare must not understand what “individual mandate” means. Citizens will soon be compelled to buy the industry’s product or pay a fine. If Congress passed a law requiring Americans to pay a fine for not owning a washing machine, I think Maytag might support that.
It’s amazing what a difference a new president can make. Just as President Obama managed to make the total surveillance state hip again, he even managed to give corporate/government coziness a makeover.
The problem is that I’m older than seven, which means that I can remember when plenty of liberals thought collusion between big business and big government was more than just dangerous, it was fascism. Yes, the f-word lost nearly all of its shock value after hearing it nonstop for eight consecutive years—by which I mean fascism, not the other one—but that doesn’t mean that those people who used it were tossing it around cavalierly. They honestly believed that there was a legitimate comparison to be made between Dubya and Il Duce.
Thinking back to early 2005, when Democrats were still sulking over the reelection of President Bush, I distinctly remember Robert Kennedy Junior implying not so subtly that the country had gone, or was going, fascist. He quoted Benito Mussolini: “[F]ascism should more appropriately be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power.”
Oh, how trite. Another ‘Bush is a fascist’ outburst from some guy whose only claim to fame is being the spoiled son of the younger brother of a mediocre president. Yet significant doubt hangs over that well-travelled quote. No original source has ever been found to corroborate Mussolini actually saying it. The purported source—the 1932 edition of Enciclopedia Italiana—does not actually contain it. Like many famous quotes, it became common currency by virtue of the fact that it’s been repeated so many times. Everyone simply “knows” that he said it.
It’s unknown where the quote originated from but its prevalence was greatly increased after it appeared in a 2002 Molly Ivins column, in reference to Bush-era America. Her opening line spoke volumes—“Readin’ the newspapers anymore is eerily reminiscent of all those bad novels warning of the advent of fascism in America.” So a mythical quote somehow landed in an op-ed piece by a nationally syndicated columnist and, from there, became common knowledge.
Real or not, the Robert Kennedys of this world cling to the false quote with such alacrity because it molds their domestic political opponents into the image of a much reviled tyrant. They believe that if Mussolini were alive today he’d be a red state Republican who hobnobs regularly captains of industry.
Meanwhile, actual industrialists are lined up around the corner with their tribute offerings to the new chief executive. There’s a reason Barrack Obama was the best funded candidate in the history of the world, two election cycles running, and it isn’t because he eschews corporate money. He relishes it. PhRMA is on his team. BP gave more money to Obama than they’ve ever given to any other candidate. His inaugurations were funded by AT&T and Microsoft. He’s the corporate kid.
So where’s the outrage? Corporations are getting a sweet deal with Obamacare while the rest of us are getting the shaft. If Molly Ivins were alive today, would she be making Obama-Mussolini comparisons? I doubt it. Robert Kennedy certainly isn’t. The worse criticism I was able to find was a mild chiding Kennedy gave to Obama for using the term “clean coal” which Junior says doesn’t exist. He also wrote a long essay for HuffPo explaining why Obama’s IRS scandal shouldn’t be compared to Nixon’s, and why having Homeland Security spy on the AP was all very much legal if “unfortunate.”
No accusations of fascism. Not a one.
Big government and big business are wedded like never before. Government-chartered “private” companies have a near monopoly on student and housing loans. The federal government is the largest shareholder in two of America’s largest auto manufacturers. Either corporatism is no longer fascism, or fascism is no longer bad. Take your pick, liberals.