Take THAT, Republicants!

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Okay as anyone who knows me or regularly talks with me knows, I have been for the whole of my politically conscious life been a staunch and unflinching advocate of healthcare reform in this country. The battle to reform a system that has made it their business to cut costs by denying life-saving care, that by its very definition must profit from the sickness and suffering of its customers, is very deeply personal to me. So, naturally, I was extremely happy to hear the news that the healthcare reform that's been debated to bejesus and back, suffered immature parliamentary shenanigans, weathered a hell-storm of ill-informed and deceptive attacks from Conservative media outlets, and narrowly escaped a no-holds-barred filibuster threat in the Senate, passed the House with a handful of votes to spare.

I'm glad it passed, really. It's not a perfect bill, it's not exactly to the word what I wanted to see, but it's passed and now we can start improving it. I'm not primarily disappointed with the bill; I'm mostly disappointed that the US Senate turned all crazy on us for the past year or so. Some of the rhetoric that's been flying back in forth in there has been unconscionable, to say the least, and that's been a real disappointment to me. It makes me sad that there are too many people in the Senate who can't seem to disagree with each other on policy without rampant ad hominem attacks. There are senators who don't see anything wrong with yelling "You lie!" at the President during a speech. That's been a disappointment to me, for sure. In comparison to that disappointment, this bill isn't a disappointment at all.

The ability of the insurance companies to engage in disturbingly sociopathic behaviour toward their customers has been diminished in many critical ways. That's a pretty good thing. I think it's also great that kids will be able to stay on their parents' insurance 'til they're 25, too. The so-called "doughnut hole" for seniors has been closed, too, apparently... whatever that is. Bully! I really enjoyed reading David Frum's comments about it, actually, in what seems to be a brutally honest Republican perspective of their utter failure to do so much as put a dent into this thing in over a year of debate. In his article, he says:
No illusions please: This bill will not be repealed.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?

We followed the most radical voices in the party and the movement, and they led us to abject and irreversible defeat.
I would consider this a completely accurate appraisal, and I've said for a long time now that the Republicans' strategy of opposing this reform didn't really make political sense. If it didn't pass they might be able to scrape some political capital off the bottom of the barrel, but it did, so now they're in the awkward position of having voted against measures that, as people become more educated about them, are likely to be extremely popular. I doubt many voters will be able to continue to oppose the bill once they realize that it protects them from the insurance companies should they become seriously ill, and prevents insurance companies from discriminating against them for preexisting conditions. Over the past year for every politician who's sided with the insurance companies and stood up against reform, there have been tens and hundreds of voices of actual Americans who are suffering or who have lost loved ones because of the current system or lack thereof. The Republicans underestimated direly the widespread suffering the insurance companies have caused, and they forgot that not only are they currently in the minority, but they're in the minority by historic margins practically everywhere, and our current Democratic president won in '08 by a landslide. I guess I can understand how all of that might've slipped their minds, but honestly they have to have realized that they wouldn't be winning too many popularity contests for actually voting for the situation where insurance companies can pull the plug on grandma.

Their loss is our gain, 'cause we passed a good healthcare reform bill that with some work over the years can become great. Stay healthy, space cadets.

PS — Watching the progress of the student loan reform bill, too. More on that later.