I know why the caged veal sings (photo: Xosé Castro)

Having suckered you into giving up your email address, fundraised heavily and built up their mailing lists by disingenuously flogging the public option, the veal pen turns around and shoots it in the back to save Michael Bennet’s ass. Yesterday SEIU and Progress Colorado showed up when David Sirota and 40-50 public option supporters delivered 34,000 petition signatures to Bennet’s office to protest AGAINST the public option.

David Herszenhorn of the New York Times states what’s happening very clearly, and debunks the “public option will get a vote later” lie:

[T]he Democrats said they had agreed among themselves to resist the temptation to make any amendments and would work to approve the bill without any changes that would require it to be sent back to the House for another vote. The public option, they said, could wait for another day, another vote, another fight — even though the parliamentary process playing out on the Senate floor gave them a rare chance to enact it with a simple majority, a chance unlikely to come around again soon.

But the bill is going to go back to the House for another vote as of this morning, so that excuse has melted. It now takes its place along side “60 voters,” “50 votes,” “the President supports the public option” and “I’ve only had two beers, officer” in the feeble excuse Hall of Fame. It was all bullshit anyway — as if bills aren’t routinely sent back and forth between houses all the time. It’s almost as good as Michael Bennet’s “it will kill the bill” — as if the health care bill wasn’t already signed into law by the President. Exactly how many people he thought would “die” by the delay of a “tax fix” is unknown. (See “Frosh Sen. Michael Bennet Won’t Offer Public Option Amendment, Still Seems Not To Understand How Legislative Process Works“)

But I really do think that the veal pen groups who are stepping out to cover Bennet’s ass, rubber stamp his lies and shoot the public option once and for all should acknowledge their self-interest in doing so. The unions, for example, want to raid billions in student loan money for their excise tax fix. And the NYT quotes Families USA:

But other liberal advocates said they agreed with Democratic leaders.

“I think everyone who has been pushing for reform wants to get the last piece of legislation completed as soon as possible, and that means no amendments to the pending bill,” said Ron Pollack, the executive director of Families USA, a liberal advocacy group that has fought hard for health care overhaul. “The question of a public plan option will await another day.”

Families USA is a Soros-funded group that has been a key player in negotiating the secret White House deals with stakeholders. And Pollack has been concern trolling to drop the public option all along. Back in October, Pollack was touting the virtues of the Senate bill and saying the public option was just not very important: “I don’t think we want to jeopardize that because we did not get exactly what we wanted,” he told the Nightly Business Report.

But Pollack isn’t acknowledging that he’s one of those who put together the unholy “Baucus caucus” cartel that carved up the health care bill in the first place. As the National Journal reported last May, “Ron Pollack, executive director of the nonprofit Families USA, has convened two successive rounds of negotiations with insurers and other business interests since 2004 to find common ground on complex and contentious issues underlying the reform debate.” Those talks came to fruition in the May 11 meeting at the White house, where “stakeholders” (including PhRMA) delivered their proposals to “voluntarily” reduce cost increases over the next 10 years.

And according to Harry Reid, on a May 9 panel hosted by Ron Brownstein of the National Journal, Pollack is the one who negotiated the deal for the PhRMA proposal with Billy Tauzin:

Audience:Hi I’m Paul Helmke, the head of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. The Supreme Court said last year that we have Second Amendment rights but — (crosstalk) — used to be a Republican mayor in Fort Wayne, Indiana, so good business person too. We can have reasonable restrictions along with the Second Amendment, we continue to see shootings…is there any way we can make progress in the Senate on something like gun control? You mentioned it briefly.

Reid:Of course there is. And I think we have to have all the groups, one of which you belong to, stop being “it’s either our way or the highway.” I have found that in the gun debate there’s so little ability to communicate. For example, in health care, Billy Tauzin came to visit with me yesterday or the day before, the former Congressman from Louisiana. They worked on an agreement with a very liberal group, Families USA. We don’t see any of this in the gun debate, none of it. And I think for us to get our health care legislation passed, we’re going to need more of the Tauzin work with [Families USA Executive Director] Ron Pollack. I don’t see that in the gun debate and that’s too bad.

There were ultimately more negotiations before the PhRMA board finally ratified the deal on June 19, but PhRMA subsequently used Families USA as a front group through which they ran the ads that were the political payoff for their deal on the health care bill.

And what does Families USA want out of this? Well, the elaborate new scheme to funnel the maximum amount of taxpayer money to private companies needs the technology to do that. Says Politico:

Families USA executive director Ron Pollack has chartered a non-profit group, tentatively named Enroll America, that would create a major, nationwide operation to ensure that people newly eligible for Medicaid and insurance subsidies are able to easily apply and receive those benefits. The plan, of course, is contingent upon reform passing.

Pollack said he has reached out to reform supporters like PhRMA and hospitals and opponents such as America’s Health Insurance Plans and Blue Cross Blue Shield and found them all interested in participating.

The New York Times and others need to start asking these “liberals” on the “other side” what they’re getting in out of the bill. A self-interested PhRMA front group should not be describing itself as a “liberal advocacy group.”

Jane Hamsher

Jane Hamsher

Jane is the founder of Firedoglake.com. Her work has also appeared on the Huffington Post, Alternet and The American Prospect. She’s the author of the best selling book Killer Instinct and has produced such films Natural Born Killers and Permanent Midnight. She lives in Washington DC.
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