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What Massachusetts Got Right

Robert Scheer @ Truthdig - The president got creamed in Massachusetts. No amount of blaming this disastrous outcome on the weaknesses of the local Democratic candidate or her Republican opponent's strengths can gainsay that fact. Obama's opportunistic search for win-win solutions to our health care concerns and our larger economic problems is leading to a lose-lose outcome for the president and the country.

The two issues that mattered on Election Day were the economy, which Obama has sold out to Wall Street-as quite a few disgruntled voters pointed out-and his plea to save health care reform, which the voters who had backed him for the presidency with a huge majority now spurned. It is significant that it was the voters of Massachusetts who have now derailed the Democrats' efforts to revamp the country's health care system by denying them the necessary 60th vote in the Senate, for these voters know the subject well.

Instead of blindly following the failed Massachusetts model, Obama should have insisted on an extension of the Medicare program to all who are willing to pay for it. He squandered the opportunity to bring about meaningful health care change that the public would have supported had it been kept simple and just. Instead, Obama gave away the store to medical profiteers. They, in turn, hopelessly muddied the waters with well-funded scare advertising tactics that principled leadership on Obama's part could have thwarted.

A mere seven months ago, The New York Times/ CBS poll found that 72% of Americans "supported a government-administered insurance plan-something like Medicare for those under 65-that would compete for customers with private insurers." Even half of those identified as Republican said they would back such a public plan, as would three out of four independents and 90% of Democrats. Instead of heeding that call by endorsing a serious extension of Medicare, along with increased subsidies for those who could not afford it, Obama played to the conservatives in Congress-and they rolled him. Read more.

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