As you are all painfully aware, it's harder and harder to tell the
difference between the six o'clock news and the Jerry Springer Show.
To the ordinary working person, the Clinton "scandal" is just
not that big a deal. All of us are sick of it already. And it certainly doesn't come as
any great shock. This President is like the guy who pumps gas and smokes at the same time,
constantly defying the odds that he'll blow himself up. Many of us were disappointed with
Clinton before he was even elected, and his recent confessions just fit his sad pattern of
waffling, betraying, and lying. But, of course waffling, betraying and lying are the major
pastimes of politicians in this town. They do it all the time and get away with it.
Congress and the corporate-owned news media have a simple policy when it
comes to political lies and those who tell them. If the lies being told end up wrecking
the lives of millions of working people, they keep quiet about them. But if the lies are
of no great consequence to anyone, Congress demands that a special prosecutor get the
subpoenas out ASAP.
Think back a few years ago to the days when our movement for national
healthcare reform was in full swing. Former Senator Bob Dole and current Speaker of the
House Newt Gingrich regularly blasted reform efforts, assuring everyone that reform would
destroy "the best healthcare system in the world" and make it so expensive that
the country would go bankrupt. Lies, all lies. The insurance companies opened up another
floodgate of lies, spending tens of millions of dollars to pollute the nation's airwaves
with "Harry and Louise" ads. Who could forget these two pathetic creatures who
suddenly discover to their horror that their expensive and confusing private health
insurance is in danger of being replaced by something that would cover everyone for less
money! Ye gods!
... lies ...
The avalanche of lies was partly responsible for defeating real national
healthcare reform, and regular working people have been suffering as a result ever since.
But did any of these folks get investigated for lying to the American people? No way! Did
Dole of Gingrich or anyone else get called to testify in front of a grand jury because
they lied about healthcare reform? Not on your life! And what about the Clintons, who
surely knew they were lying when they told us that their big bureaucratic plan was
actually better than a simple Canadian-style system? Why wasn't Clington grilled by a
special prosecutor on that critical point?
... and more lies!
Today, a fresh crop of lies about our sorry healthcare system are pouring
out of Washington, as politicians from both parties try to tell us that band-aids like the
"Patients' Bill of Rights" are all we need to fix our healthcare system.
The House of Representatives passed the Republican version of the Patients
Rights bill (HR4250) back in July by a slim 216-210 margin. Problem is, it's not a bill of
rights at all just a collection of small tinkerings intended to create the
impression of giving managed care consumers a little more leverage against the giant HMOs
and insurance companies. Supporters of the bill know this, of course, leading this writer
to conclude that they are, once again, lying to us.
Honesty and Deception ...
The Democrats are promoting an alternative bill that provides managed care
consumers with a few additional protections. But it is deceptive to call it a
"Patients' Bill of Rights." To do so is to conveniently sweep under the rug the
fact that 43 million U.S. residents lack any healthcare coverage at all, and millions more
will go broke when they fall sick because their "insurance" is totally
inadequate. An honest "patients' bill of rights" would look more like the Labor
Party's healthcare plank.
And what about the other lies working people have been putting up with
lately? Will Congress hold hearings to look into how politicians took corporate cash,
voted for NAFTA, and then stood by while Big Business fired more than 500,000
manufacturing workers, all the while lying to us about the benefits of "free
trade"? Not a chance. Is someone being told to investigate the lies being told about
Social Security? Will anyone get impeached for lying about "welfare reform,"
when it was really welfare liquidation? Not in our lifetime.
We've got enough transcripts, videotapes, and commentaries about Clinton's
sex life to fill up every newspaper and TV show for the next year. But when it comes to
the lies that really hurt us, we won't hear a word about them. They never investigate the
lies that matter.
And that's why building the Labor Party is our only choice.
Chris Townsend is Political Action Director of the United Electrical,
Radio, and Machine Workers of America (UE).