Monday, April 19, 2010
Wellpoint, Goldman Sachs, Policy and Political Theater: A Bad Movie Part 2
The Disease Management Care Blog used to tell its patients it was a good sign if you had insight about your mental illness. That's why it readily admits to an abundance of paranoia over the timing of the Security and Exchange Commission's civil suit against Goldman Sachs and the Democrats' push for major financial reform legislation. By taking the abstract (hopelessly complicated financial instruments that were hopelessly outside the understanding of everyone, including the regulators) and putting a face on the alleged villainy, the Dems have simultaneously increased the likelihood of passage of a bill, energized their base and once again painted their Republican opponents into the Corner of the Party of No.
If this sounds like a bad movie that DMCB readers have seen before, it should. Recall that in weeks leading up to the showdown vote over health reform, HHS Secretary Sebelius unloaded a perfectly timed broadside at the the infamous Wellpoint, even though its proposed rate increases and administrative costs were known months before. Now that the Wellpoint has served its purpose, Ms. Sebelius and the White House have moved on, leaving State officials in California to deal with the inconvenient truths of an informed Board of Directors' decision about CEO compensation and the apparent likelihood that, effective May 1, the rate increases will stand. This mugging is the White House's style of victory?
The contrarian DMCB is not defending corporate piracy at the expense of the little man. But it knows that the time necessary to formulate good policy based on all sides of the issues takes a lot longer than the political cycle. It seems the White House has learned to manipulate both. That makes for good political theater and victories, but does not bode well for the business of government.