Post-Mortem:The Final Word of the Beginning?

In an effort to gather my thoughts, I have tried to make some order out of our new health care bill, as passed by the Senate.  A lot of reading follows, but it has much value.

On one hand, with 60 Democratic votes in the Senate, the difficult time this legislation faced before passage shows what a tough issue health care is for this country.  It should not be so, but it is.  Shoot.  I really should be five feet, eight inches.  But alas, I am merely almost four feet, eleven inches.  Such is life.  So be it.  Even with majority leadership in Congress and a sitting Democratic President, this was not an easy feat.

On the other hand, the politicos believe that all the compromise necessary to ensure enactment will not matter in the long run; this bill is just the first stepping stone to a system of universal coverage.  I am not yet convinced because with a current majority in both Houses, we may never have such strength for a long time to come.  This bill might be as good as we can get for another 20 years.

On my brighter days, I appreciate this landmark legislation as the structural foundation of a health care system that may provide decent, equal and cost-efficient care.  On my darker days, I am as angry as hell that the decent, equality and cost efficiency was sacrificed in favor of the private insurers’ bottom lines.   Allow me to provide two view points on this issue, both by respected journalists.  The first is in support of this bill, although not entirely enthusiastic, by Paul Krugman:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/18/opinion/18krugman.html?scp=3&sq=PAUL%20KRUGMAN&st=cse

The second article is by David Brooks.  While he comes to a different conclusion than Krugman, Brooks also is kind of on the fence:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/18/opinion/18brooks.html?_r=1&scp=2&sq=brooks&st=cse

I will let you pick your poison and decide for yourself which side of the coin you prefer.  Meanwhile, there are a few glaring examples of hypocrisy and self- interest that I cannot ignore.  Both Senator Landrieu and Senator Nelson finally voted “yea” on this bill only after they were literally bought.  Both states will receive hundreds of millions of dollars for their Medicaid expansion.  Also, Nelson won major concessions to limit abortion rights.  Thus, he must feel pretty powerful now that his strong-arm reaches half of America’s population: the women.  Both of these politicians are dirt.  Here they are, major critics of health care because it expands the role of government too far into American life.  Additionally, they believe that the costs of health reform are nothing short of catastrophic for our country.  Yet they both accepted the huge funding for the government program of Medicaid for their own states.  Isn’t their acceptance of these “gifts” completely antithetical to their strongly held position of less government and less costs?  They are whores, the lot of them.

And everyone and their mother state as their first accolade of this bill that 30 million uninsured Americans will now have insurance.  What they are not so vocal about is the fact that the bulk of these people will get health care mainly through Medicaid.  The care offered by Medicaid does not nearly approximate the standard of care our federally elected officials receive through their plans, the cost of which we pick up for them.  I hold firm in my principle that until all Americans are afforded equal access and levels of care, i.e. universal coverage, the whole system is rotten.  Separate but equal: been there, done that.

Another oh-so-obvious inconsistency that has surfaced during this debate is overwhelmingly depressing: the GOP lacks any real concern for governing.  Instead, their overriding concern is for the survival and strength of their own party, which in and of itself includes a healthy dose of individual self-interest.  Just yesterday, Senator Tom Coburn just about called for a death in the Senate, like perhaps the ancient and infirm Senator Robert Byrd, so that the bill would not have the 60 votes to pass:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/12/21/robert-byrds-death-seemin_n_399038.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+HP%2FPolitics+%28Politics+on+The+Huffington+Post%29

Further disconcerting is that the party on the other side of the aisle, the Democrats, are not too far behind in their denial of what is good and right in favor of their own welfare.

None of this is news.  There are those observers who believe that President Obama is running out of political capital:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tom-sullivan/president-obama-loses-his_b_395835.html

But more typical are rationalizations of this Senate vote.  Paul Krugman blogged acceptance of this bill:

http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/12/20/the-wysiwyg-president/

As did Andrew Sullivan, saying that the bill we got was the bill President Obama had promised us:

http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2009/12/the-bill-obama-promised.html

I guess my take on all of this is much disappointment buoyed by some hope.  It doesn’t much matter for me personally:  I am at that stage of my life where I have savings to cover the annual premium increases of 30% that keep on coming plus, in six years, I will be eligible for Medicare.  But what of the younger generations?  I still worry so much about them.  The saddest thing is that they will not even know what they are missing because they never had the comfort and security of just and affordable coverage against which to gauge any recent incarnation of health care.

As a result, my battle continues to educate what it is they really are missing and what it is we should continue to fight for.

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3 Responses to “Post-Mortem:The Final Word of the Beginning?”

  1. Natalie R Says:

    I am with Krugman. It is a LOUSY bill but it is the ONLY game in town as is Obama the only game in town. The one edict: Democrats are better MUCH better for humanity in this country than is ANY Republican on planet earth. Therefore, as someone said I forget who, if I were a senator I would hold my nose and say yes to the bill. Our soon (HOPEFULLY) to be elected Martha Coakley, Kennedy’s replacement assuming god forbid the Republican Brown does not do an upset, is a STAUNCH supporter of abortion rights. She is a liberal’s liberal and initially said she would not sign the bill. She changed her mind. She said to the Boston Globe days ago that she would. It says something.

    A vote no would consign this bill to the ash heap of history and take Obama possibly with it. Now at least we have a chance that it COULD be reformed. COULD. With a Republican in office we would have had nothing and probably nothing for decades if they retained power.

    All other western nations provide health care for their people. The problem we face that they do not is that the US is a HUGE country some have said it is a country within countries. Worse we are in a Great Recession and some say inching toward Depression. So even though the CBO said the health care bill will save billions over ten years, it’s hard to justify huge spending to red America in such a down economy even with the reasons for why our economics is in the toilet. Republicans mainly put it there or at least Ayn Randian ideals of both parties who got paid off by the corporations did along with a foreign policy which has consigned this nation to eternal war. War costs HUGE bucks and causes failures of empire and humongous deficits as well. Just look to ancient Rome to prove that point.

    It all works in tandem. The entire system of corporate cronyism has sealed our fate and the way Congress passes a bill needing 60 votes in the senate with polarized politics seals our fate as well. The ONLY thing we as the middle guys need to think is that Democrats are infinitely preferable than Republicans for us. It’s really that simple. The hard part is getting the Joe Six Packs of the country to understand that fact.

    All those in the so called “moral majority” need to ditch the Republican party and accept the fact that whether a boy kisses or marries another boy has NO absolutely NO economic impact on them but Republican politics does. That, I think, should be the goal of the Democratic national party to build a SOLID majority in the Congress (conservadems out) and keep a Democratic president IF WE CAN while reforming the 60 vote senate necessity. I know, all of this is easier said than done.

    As for the future generations. I guess they will have to do what we did. I got a steady job in a big firm and my employers for over 30 years paid for my health insurance in toto. I picked a field (legal) that was solid and I stayed there. I got the best care for the majority of my life. Thankfully, I, too, saved and got lucky in some ways but my partner is over ten years away from Medicare and wonders if that will remain solvent. Or a person has to be fortunate and have the brains and good luck to become wealthy. Then nothing economic is difficult as the following link from MSNBC can attest entitled “The Superrich at luxury fair ask What recession?”

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/34483318/ns/business-businessweekcom/

    IF the country can pick it self up by its bootstraps through green technology and climate control efforts with other reforms and if we enact strict regulation of Wall Street, keep electing Democrats to put Medicare in a lock box it will probably be saved and health care improved. The economy, however, MUST be fixed. A Herculean task and maybe you say I must be smoking something. I wish I were it would improve my mood!

    The harsh world is still, like our ancient ancestors knew, survival of the fittest and some segments of humanity will be luckier than others. We can only hope we as the biggest western nation on earth can make life a little more fair, equitable and just for those who are not so lucky. We must keep trying and hand the baton off to the next generation who needs to keep trying too.

  2. Ignacio Says:

    I don’t understand. They haven’t even ironed-out the compromise bill between the House and Senate yet.

    • yomamaforobama Says:

      Let’s face it: if the House alters the legislation in any significant way, the Senators who previously voted for the bill will turn tail and rescind their vote. You know that as well as I do.

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