Sunday, March 21, 2010

I didn’t expect to feel euphoric when the health care bill was passed.

I didn’t expect to feel euphoric when the health care bill was passed. It’s not what I had hoped for—-no public option and restrictions on funding for abortion.

But, nonetheless, this is huge. The expansion of Medicaid is major redistribution, especially as much of it is paid for by new taxes on families earning in excess of $250,000.

So,yes, there are aspects of the bill I am not happy about, but this legislation is part of the redistributionist project that began with the new Deal, continued with the Civil Rights Movement (which was a redistribution of power rather than of wealth), continued with Medicare and now finally with health care as a right of all citizens.

Just as Social Security (which excluded the majority of share croppers and domestic workers and thus effectively excluded the majority of African-Americans) was amended, this bill (which excludes undocumented workers) will eventually be fixed.

And yes, we will eventually overturn the Hyde amendment which denies abortion coverage to women on Medicaid.

At every step, there have been those who have said, “I have mine, why do we need to create social programs for “others." Fortunately this narrow, mean-spirited approach was defeated again last night.

This battle has never been about just health care. The ugly racist, homophobic language of the Tea Party people has made clear what we have long suspected: this is about who has fundamental rights in our society. As House Majority Whip James Clyburn stated:

I heard people saying things today I've not heard since March 15th, 1960, when I was marching to try and get off the back of the bus," Clyburn said. "This is incredible, shocking to me."
He added, "A lot of us have said for a long time that none of this is about healthcare at all. It's about extending a basic fundamental right to people who are less powerful."

Thank you Speaker Pelosi and President Obama!!

Now we have to work to make this better just as previous generations worked to amend the flaws in the original social security legislation.


  1. As much as we hate to see it expressed, when the racism and homophobia of the reactionaries become overt, the silent-but-moral are forced to distance themselves from them. The sooner the ugly is outed, the better to isolate them.

  2. And I think they well become increasingly isolated!

  3. When I was 15 I developed a chronic condition, and received excellent care under my mother's insurance plan. When I turned 23 and graduated from college, I lost eligibility. Tagged with a pre-existing condition, I was black balled from the private insurance market for life. Since then when my condition's gotten bad enough that I couldn't put off treatment, I've made myself unemployed to qualify for Minnesota's General Assistance Medical Care program, which has taken good care of me . . . because I live in a prosperous, progressive county and I know how to use the system. Now Gov Pawlenty is trying to unilaterally kill GAMC. Until tonight, I have been a Democrat because of people like Gingrich and Bush, Palin and Pawlenty. After tonight, I am an Obama Democrat in the sense that my grandparents were Roosevelt Democrats. For all the problems with HCR, for all the compromises and deals and disappointments and inefficiencies, tonight the Democrats stood up and took a political risk to say that I deserve medical coverage, that it's no longer okay to treat my health as sad but acceptable collateral damage in a Social Darwinist system. That's why this moment matters to me.

    And the Tea Party will accelerate the GOP's death spiral into an ever angrier, whiter and smaller party.

  4. Aleks,
    I hope you are sending your story to widely read newspapers and blogs. This is a really powerful statement!

  5. Thank you Karen! James Fallows published it in The Atlantic. I should ask the local Democratic Party if they can make use of it too.