Monday, March 22, 2010

Say what you will about the tenets of National Socialism, dude . . . but at least we have health care.

So the Democrats passed a comprehensive health care reform bill last night that the President will sign into law today or tomorrow. Shortly thereafter, the Senate will pass a series of "fixes" that were agreed upon with certain members of the House to secure their votes.

I do not know too much about the health care reform bill other than the basic outline of what it will do, what it will cost, and what it is projected to save. And as much as I am critical of those in Congress and the popular media who opposed it merely because Obama was for it, I am not much better, because at the end of the day I really just supported it because I support him.

But having said that, it seems clear to me that reasonable/smart people support this bill (albeit tepidly), and crazy people oppose it. I think that might be a good enough reason to support it.

Compare Rick Santorum (lunatic conservative ideologue):

This legislation will indeed be historic in its destructive effect if it is not repealed or substantially altered. This bill will devastate our economy and its ability to create jobs and a higher standard of living; government spending and debt will explode; health care quality and choices for most Americans will suffer; and millions more innocent children in the womb will be killed. Worse still, to avoid bankrupting the country, care will be rationed so only those “useful lives” will be given the care they need.

This day will go down as either the day that America turned its back on our unique system of democratic capitalism or the day that ignited a firestorm to reclaim the vision that has made our country the greatest in the history of the world. Today is owned by those who believe that an all powerful federal government is the future of our republic, tomorrow freedom-loving patriots will begin the fight against this tyranny to reclaim our birthright. (emphasis added).

With The Economist (fiscally conservate, socially moderare newspaper) (excerpted a bit so that Open Bar will read it):

IT WILL cost close to a trillion dollars over the next ten years, a vast sum of money at any time and a heart-stopping prospect when America’s budget deficit is gobbling up nearly 11% of GDP and unemployment seems stuck at close to 10%. It takes only tentative steps towards controlling the relentless above-inflation rise in health-care costs that has gone on for decades, squeezing corporate and personal budgets alike and threatening, if unchecked, to overwhelm the federal budget entirely. [. . . ].

[But t]his poor bill is still better than no bill at all for two reasons. The first has to do with coverage. This newspaper loathes needless government intervention. But it also thinks that it is wrong for a country as rich as America to have tens of millions of people without health insurance. . . . The health-reform plan represents the last chance, perhaps for decades, of erasing one of the least creditable differences between America and the rest of the industrialised world. If this president, who came into office with solid congressional majorities and stratospheric ratings fails, neither he nor his successors will dare touch health care for many years to come; and that would be a tragedy.

The second somewhat paradoxical reason is that this bill will have to be improved on after it is passed—especially when it comes to costs. . . . .The current bill chips away at all of these problems. Gold-plated insurance policies will in effect lose their tax-exempt status, though not for a while, and not in full. An independent presidential commission will have some power to force down the rates paid to medical-service providers—though, insanely, hospitals are exempted. Tiny steps in the direction of tort reform are also provided for. [. . . ]

Some health-reform purists will scoff at such incrementalism. They argue that it would be better to do nothing now, wait for an old-fashioned fiscal crisis to force the issue, and then start again. That is an alternative we think most Americans would rather not experience. Mr Obama’s bill does a morally desirable thing in expanding health coverage, and it does a bit on costs. That is, on balance, enough for it to deserve to pass. (emphasis added).

'nuff said. Suck it, tea party.

UPDATE:I hope I'm not overstepping here, but I reversed the order of this post and the one underneath it because it just seems obvious that this one should be above the fold. Love, ChuckJerry

UPDATE 2: Chuck had a far, far better title for the post, which has now been changed. Also, please, please, please read this short essay by David Frum. He is a Republican commentator/strategist who seems to hate the radical wing of his party even more than we do. His point is that Republicans didn't stand on principle, they stood on strategy. They decided this was going to be Obama's waterloo; instead, it may be their own. Or, as Frum himself puts it, "We followed the most radical voices in the party and the movement, and they led us to abject and irreversible defeat."


ChuckJerry said...

Well, there's no reason to cockblog you since you already wrote the post, but I was really hoping that the title of the inevitable post on the health care reform bill would be titled, "Say What You Will About The Tenets of National Socialism, Dude..."

Anyhow, I think I didn't actually realize how big of a deal this is until just today. That is definitely the reason the Republicans were so fired up about it and that they were so vague on the details. This is some fucking monumental, history changing shit right here.

I'm really happy that Obama is willing to make this his legacy for good or bad. I'm also really happy that he's open to the possibility that he's dragging down all the Democrats with him. That being said, I think the likelihood that this blows up in his face is essentially zero. The same poor white people who are arguing that this is a step toward socialism are the ones who are going to be lined up getting their sick kids medical care when they couldn't before.

This is precisely the reason I have so much respect for Obama versus, say, Bill Clinton. Clinton would never have weathered this negative political wave to get this done (as evidenced by the fact that he backed down right away when the waters got choppy on this very same issue.) And I'm not singling out Clinton. I think Obama is one of the very few politicians (hell, the only politician) with the moral acuity to actually see this through despite the perceived loss of political capital. Although, long term, this is gonna be one of the lasting 1,000 points of light shining on the bridge to the 21st century. Mission Accomplished. (whatup, political slogans).

Side Bar said...

The Times has posted an interactive map to its website showing the "yes" and "no" votes for each congressional district.

Predictably, the "yes" votes come overwhelmingly from the northeast and the Pacific coast, and the Great Lakes region, and the "no" votes predominate the south, midwest and rocky mountain regions.

It would be great, and I really hope this happens, to see a map in, say, five years breaking down the allocation of funds and the source of revenue under this bill. I will bet you my gold-plated health insurance plan that the people who are so fired up about this are the very same people who are going to have insurance to cover their diabets treatment thanks to the higher taxes I will start paying in 2014.

It probably should not surprise us that there was such a big fight over one man's efforts to take almost a trillion dollars from some Americans and use it so that other Americans can have affordable health care. What is stunning -- and never ceases to completely amaze me -- is that, overwhelmingly, the people who will benefit from this are represented by those who fought so desperately against its passage, while the people who will end up paying for it are represented by the ones who pushed it across the finish line.

I don't mind the higher taxes, but the dynamic in this country -- with wealthy liberals fighting tooth and nail to give their money to poor and ignorant rednecks -- is staggering (ok, ok, that was a little simplistic).

Enjoy your KFC, assholes. Don't worry, we've got the Lipitor covered now.

Open Bar said...

Still can't believe the Dems actually got their shit together enough to finally pass this thing. All along it seemed like it was clearly in their interests to do so, yet they still managed to seek out ways to fuck it all up. Now it's like they passed it in spite of themselves or something.

I dunno, I'm still trying to sort through all this.

But one thing I would like to say to Sarah Palin and her ilk: Yes, in fact, that hopey-changey stuff is workin' out pretty darned well, thank you.

ChuckJerry said...

Here is the most interesting part of that Frum essay:

"This bill will not be repealed. Even if Republicans scored a 1994 style landslide in November, how many votes could we muster to re-open the “doughnut hole” and charge seniors more for prescription drugs? How many votes to re-allow insurers to rescind policies when they discover a pre-existing condition? How many votes to banish 25 year olds from their parents’ insurance coverage? And even if the votes were there – would President Obama sign such a repeal?"

These are things that he wants. He's saying definitively that he is in favor of the donut hole. In favor of excluding those with pre-existing conditions. In favor of dropping recent college grads from insurance rosters.

I had to read that twice to make sure that's what he was saying. He wants to screw old people. He wants to exclude the sick people, the people who will use it, from having insurance.

That is this guy's ideal. He's not beating around the bush or sugar coating it. He wants those in a less fortunate position to just be fucked over and that's it. Nothing else.

This isn't about super rich people paying more taxes. This is about fucking over people who catch a bad break. That's what he wants. How can that be?

Side Bar said...

I really do not read it that way. Instead, I think what he is saying is that, as a whole, he opposes this bill. It is way too expensive and has other facets that he does not like. But he recognizes that a repeal would be impossible because of the fallout that would accompany repealing these particular aspects of the bill. They are unassailable (particularly unassailable when viewed out of the context of their cost, he might add), and it would be political suicide to try and repeal them.

See his follow-up post, "Repeal and Replace" to support my interpretation.

ChuckJerry said...

We had *not* thought of that, Dude.

You're probably right. It initially astonished me that he could be such a dick to the extent that I figured I was reading it wrong. And I probably was. In fact, you're definitely right.

Open Bar said...

And in No Fucking Way! news, conservative think tank the American Enterprise Institute just fired David Frum, where he had been since 2003.

He probably got caught eating other people's food out of the fridge or something. Man, office politics...