The one thing clear about the passage last night of the Obama-Democratic health care reform bill in the lower house of Congress is that a political Rubicon has been crossed. It my have passed by only three votes but let me remind you that George W Bush was elected and served as President in the 2000 election by an even slimmer margin of electoral votes. And since the Democrats were going to be blamed anyway for trying to pass reform, they at least now have the advantage of actually having it signed into law.
Now thing I know about the country I am fortunate to live in: Americans in general love people that can get a job done, and don't give up and make excuses and quit. The newest Gallup Poll shows that President Obama's approval ratings have done back up to 50 percent favor ability again and will likely increase. This is because Obama and Speaker Nancy Pelosi got something major they set out to do and got it passed.
Many people objected to Ronald Reagan draconian politics on welfare recipients, cutting school lunch programs and practicing the politics of excessive-individuality, but he always won grudging admiration for sticking to his guns.
This is nothing less than a new era in dealing with a private-treatment system that has put profits over caring for indigent sick people. Health care insurers like Wellpoint and Blue Cross are now on notice---the days of desperate sick people showing up at a public clinic with few resources or a overcrowded emergency room for care because they aren't good customers for their stock-holders and CEOs is soon going to be over.
Yes, health care reform is controversial and the Democrats who voted for this are not all going to be reelected. But many of these legislators were already targeted by the Republicans and conservative and right-radical groups because they were in traditionally Republican districts anyway! Elections matter as we in the Democratic camp have been reminded over and over again by conservatives since Nixon's landslide victory in 1972 and all through the Reagan-Bush years. We were told to give up and adapt to a new conservative mantra of less regulation and more free markets as a way to solve everything from health care to banking regulations (or non-regulation) of fighting foreign wars.
Well, we've been taught the lesson--and now it finally appears that our elected Representatives in the current Senate and House are finally ready to teach the class to the masters.
Sure, there will be charges of unconstitutionally and all the usual back and forth of those who see change and are threatened by it. But I think in the end most of this bill will be set and standard law in a few years... and more and more of the public will accept this law not because its about bigger government but because its about a greater fairness and protections for working and middle-class families. Over sixty percent of bankruptcies are now caused by excessive health care billings. No other developed nation in the world allows parents to deal with a sick child, for instance, and also the loss of a family home.We Americans need to get with the modern world!
Paul Krugman in the New York Times pointed out the latest part of this year-long battle and the Republican agony:
" 'Yes, a few conservative policy intellectuals, after making a show of thinking hard about the issues, claimed to be disturbed by reform’s fiscal implications (but were strangely unmoved by the clean bill of fiscal health from the Congressional Budget Office) or to want stronger action on costs (even though this reform does more to tackle health care costs than any previous legislation). For the most part, however, opponents of reform didn’t even pretend to engage with the reality either of the existing health care system or of the moderate, centrist plan — very close in outline to the reform Mitt Romney introduced in Massachusetts — that Democrats were proposing.
"Instead, the emotional core of opposition to reform was blatant fear-mongering, unconstrained either by the facts or by any sense of decency.
"It wasn’t just the death panel smear. It was racial hate-mongering, like a piece in Investor’s Business Daily declaring that health reform is “affirmative action on steroids, deciding everything from who becomes a doctor to who gets treatment on the basis of skin color.” It was wild claims about abortion funding. It was the insistence that there is something tyrannical about giving young working Americans the assurance that health care will be available when they need it, an assurance that older Americans have enjoyed ever since Lyndon Johnson — whom Mr. Gingrich considers a failed president — pushed Medicare through over the howls of conservatives.' "
Medicare, passed in 1965, was supposed to be "the end of freedom", as Reagan put it when he was entering national politics. The same was said of Social Security thirty years earlier by the proto-Reagans like Herbert Hoover, William Randolph Hearst and Father Coughlin (a radio pundit much like Rush Limbaugh).
Instead of the crack of doom happening, Medicare and Social Security are programs that has helped eliminate much of the poverty that haunted older people. They are settled programs that are seen as part and parcel of the structure of the political landscape.
There are many flaws to this bill of course---much of the paying for it has been put off and some of the benefits for 32 million uninsured people are not going into effect for three or four years. But, what may I ask, was so good about the status quo? How many more incremental and anemic changes were we going to make in health care without confronting the need to reduce costs and bring more people into the preventive care system?
Unless you make $250,000 dollars a year or have a "Cadillac Health Plan" provided by a union or a corporation, this new bill will not add a significant increase to anyone's taxes. Far from being "socialism", this, for better or worse is simply American pragmatism---we have a problem that has lasted for decades. We are finally on the first steps to correct the massive medical industry and put matters on a more humane track.