The healthcare issue should never even have been brought up at a time when the economy is reeling and we are running such immense deficits to shore up the banks. Instead of fixing the economy by saving Americans' homes and jobs, we are preoccupied with pie-in-the-sky rhetoric on a hot issue that should have been addressed in calmer times. It came up now because, despite all the hoary partisan posturing, it is a safer subject than the more pressing issue of what to do with Citigroup, AIG and General Motors, which the taxpayers happen to own but do not control. While Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner plots in secret with the top bankers who got us into this mess, we are focused on the perennial circus of so-called healthcare reform.
There is an odd disconnect between the furious public debate over healthcare reform, with its emphasis on the cost of an increased government role, and the nonexistent discussion about the far more expensive and largely secretive government program to bail out Wall Street. Why the agitation over the government spending $83 billion a year on healthcare when at least twenty times that amount has been thrown at the creators of the ongoing financial crisis without any serious public accountability? On Wednesday, the Wall Street Journal reported that employees of the financial industry that we taxpayers saved are slated to be paid a record $140 billion this year.
If you want to know who actually runs this country, just look at the phone logs, released by court order last week, revealing Geithner's nearly constant calls to solicit the advice of the fat cats who caused the banking implosion. It's the same as when he was chair of the Federal Reserve in New York, before Obama appointed him to his current job. Only back then, as he blithely ignored the impending financial meltdown, it was easier to have lunch with the bankers as well as to chat by phone.
In an earlier Freedom of Information expose, the New York Times reported in April: "An examination of Mr. Geithner's five years as president of the New York Fed, an era of unbridled and ultimately disastrous risk-taking by the financial industry, shows that he forged unusually close relationships with executives of Wall Street's giant financial institutions. His actions, as a regulator and later a bailout king, often aligned with the industry's interests and desires, according to interviews with financiers, regulators and analysts and a review of Federal Reserve records."
Nothing has changed since then. Meanwhile, we all get in a tizzy about fake efforts at health reform as immense decisions are being made to ensure the health of financial institutions that should have been left to die.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Red Herrings, anyone?
Over at the Nation, Robert Scheer opines that US politicians and media are using the health care issue to distract attention away from the government's much more costly tight relationship with Wall Street: