I heard we passed some sort of bill related to healthcare, or something? I still don’t really believe it, because right-wing pundits promised me that such a thing was impossible, and people who get invited to talk about stuff on TV are never wrong!
Conservative reaction to The Bill What Shall Not Pass has been fun to watch; as my gentleman caller tweeted, “Every Republican speaker in the House has a world-class sad.” If the right is good at anything, it’s offering a united response, even if said united response is flying the flag of the Republic of Whinelandia. I think they dropped the Waterloo thing, though. Probably a good idea. Because, as the lefty bloggers (and even David Frum) have been quick to point out: whose Waterloo, guys?
(Bonus hilarity points: McCain going on the record with threats of “no cooperation for the rest of the year” from the GOP. Shit. America’s screwed. Next thing I know, someone will close my Swiss bank account with the 10 million Euros in it, force Clive Owen to break up with me, and take away my pony.)
Progressive and radical reaction to the bill has been pretty mixed, from what I can tell. Not surprising. There’s something in it for optimists, pessimists and pragmatists alike. I don’t believe I’ve yet seen anyone take the position that passing it was worse than not passing it would have been, but that says more about how utterly broken our current healthcare system is than it does about the bill’s strengths. A bill that gave everyone a $50 Viagra subsidy and required that the CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield be whacked in the head with a Styrofoam bat would have been an improvement over the current system.
Here are a few of the more interesting takes on the subject I’ve seen, thus far:
1. Noam Chomsky takes the “better than nothing” position but, predictably enough to anyone familiar with his work, is very quick to single out the bill’s function as a giveaway to the insurance industry. And rightly so. Reasonable people can disagree on whether the bill will help individuals or improve society as a whole, but no one can deny that it’s beneficial for insurance companies. They’ve already seen a spike in their stock prices. Some of their worst excesses have been curbed, but mandatory coverage with no real competition is still money in their pockets.
I do appreciate Chomsky’s point that the public option had widespread public support, and that it’s, er, suspect that “widespread public support” somehow did not translate to “political support”. Makes it pretty clear who our elected leaders are (and are not) working for, doesn’t it?
2. I kind of love this statement by Planned Parenthood and the fact that it focuses on the real, tangible ways that women will be helped by reform, rather than the meddling of the anti-choice Democrats. Make no mistake: Stupak deserves no end of criticism for his role in the process and for the fact that the resulting Executive Order, while largely symbolic*, still amounts to the President’s signed agreement that women are dirty sluts. That’s not something we should take lightly. But its importance also shouldn’t be overstated, not least because Stupak ended up with egg on his face and has been giving hilarious interviews where he tries to convince reporters that no, really, the EO is like totally meaningful and it totally doesn’t just say “Meet the new law, same as the old law. Signed, President Obama.”
The bill, as it stands, represents a real improvement to many womens’ lives. But this runs the risk of being overlooked given our tendency to trivialize anything we view as relating primarily to women, whether helpful or harmful. Shady insurance practices often hurt women more than men due to gender discrimination; reform’s a clear improvement in this respect. Feminists have an obligation to ensure that this reality is part of the discussion, as Planned Parenthood is doing.
Their statement didn’t mention this, but I think there’s also room for optimism in that Stupak’s proposed ban has likely had the unintended effect of increasing awareness of the Hyde Amendment and its effects. And his antics really highlighted how gross it is to see a bunch of old white dudes sitting around in expensive suits and fervently discussing fetuses.
Oh, and the “babykiller!” thing was just awesome. Thanks, Rep. Neugebauer!
3. This post by Glenn Greenwald was actually written before the House vote, but it’s still a good analysis of the tactics used by the Administration to get reform passed, as well as a bucket of cold water on the head of anyone who thinks that passage somehow represented a marginalization of industry interests. Closed-door dealmaking with the drug and insurance industries to make the bill palatable to their tastes is what got this thing passed, and there’s room to disagree on whether this was necessary, but as Glenn says, there’s no doubt that it’s what happened. Celebrate the historic nature of the bill, yes. But let’s not pretend that its method of passing wasn’t business as usual.
So those are my thoughts, or, at least, my thoughts on the thoughts of other people much smarter than I. More later, perhaps.
*Katha Pollitt disagrees on this, but doesn’t elaborate, unfortunately.