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Monday, November 09, 2009

Where We Are Now Is Different From Where We'll Be When Healthcare Reform Is Signed Into Law

via The Washington Post
The [Stupak] amendment passed with the support of 64 Democrats, roughly a quarter of the party caucus.

But abortion-rights supporters are vowing to strip the amendment out, as the focus turns to the Senate and the conference committee that would resolve differences between the two bills.

Although House liberals voted for the bill with the amendment to keep the process moving forward, Rep. Diana DeGette (Colo.) said she has collected more than 40 signatures from House Democrats vowing to oppose any final bill that includes the amendment -- enough to block passage.

"There's going to be a firestorm here," DeGette said. "Women are going to realize that a Democratic-controlled House has passed legislation that would prohibit women paying for abortions with their own funds.... We're not going to let this into law."

Encouraging and entirely expected.

All sane decent people are incensed, of course, by the passage of the vile theocratic patriarchal punitively anti-woman anti-choice anti-sex anti-healthcare access Stupak amendment as the price for passage of the House version of the healthcare reform bill.

But it is important that we remember, as does DeGette, there is a difference between things that happen to a bill to move it along through a legislative process and the thing that bill will look like when it arrives at the end of the process. I am assuming that the Stupak amendment will be stripped away in committee, and that far more Democrats (most of whom are pro-choice, after all, and all of whom preside over constituencies the majority of whom are also pro-choice) would block final passage of a healthcare bill that also represented the greatest restriction of choice in over a generation than would ever block final passage of the Party's signature issue to the ruin of their own careers because the amendment was either stripped away or domesticated into a vacuity. I daresay many who voted for the amendment did so with every expectation that it would stripped or domesticated -- for disgusting and cowardly reasons of ass-covering and signal-sending to feudal constituents -- else they wouldn't have supported it in the first place.

So, I think it is important to pressure our representatives to remove this amendment before final passage -- including primarying especially those assholes who voted for the amendment and then voted against passage of the bill anyway after working to make it so much worse -- but not to frame hostility to this amendment as hostility to healthcare reform itself, which, like it or not, is represented by the bill we have rather than the bill we wish we had.

To wash your hands of healthcare reform or to declare "a plague on both your houses" like a primadonna incapable of or uninterested in discerning differences that make a difference just because of the ugliness of the results in intermediate stages of the process is to demoralize people striving on our side and in our interest in that process in the face of incredibly daunting incumbent and institutional pressures while at once energizing and providing media-narrative footholds for the mischief-making of the very forces that would destroy reform altogether in the service of their parochial benefit from the unspeakably unjust unsustainable status quo.

It's important neither to lose heart nor to lose focus as this moves forward.

Try to devote as much energy to supporting those who are doing the right thing (where they are) as you do signaling your displeasure at those who are not (where they aren't). And be as thoughtful and as specific as you can be about just what it is that is wrong and what it would take to make it right.

Realize that we're deep in the sausage-making at this point, that there is no un-ugly variation of where we are, and that whomping up blanket outrage at the obviously true and awful facts that authoritarian corporate forces have too much say, that religious reactionaries have too much say, that the incomparably saner single payer didn't even get a hearing and so on is simply not to the point at this point, that many of the compromised players in this process are quite as aware of all that and as revolted by it as are we all and that they must be supported not castigated as they slog through the swamp on our behalf.

Saying "we must do something" without offering any practical details about the doing you have in mind or in ways that don't connect up to supporting those who are working through the process to get us the best possible bill just tends to function to inspire and spread a cynical blanket anti-governmentality that authoritarian corporate-militarism is always only too happy to fill with more parochial profit-taking to the ruin of all.

Getting this ungainly bill passed will be good for good government and good for Democrats as the Party of those who demand good government and will be a foot in the door which can open ever wider onto good government for all.


RadicalCoolDude said...

Carrico: Getting this ungainly bill passed will be good for good government and good for Democrats as the Party of those who demand good government and will be a foot in the door which can open ever wider onto good government for all.

Since you are fan of Rachel Maddow and you support the passage of this "ungainly" health care reform bill, I was wondering what you thought of RJ Escrow's article, No, Rachel, No! This "Health Reform" Could Lose the Middle Class for Dems, because it has me really concerned... :/

P.S. Escrow has commented in the Amor Mundi Moot in the past so he may still be reading your blog... ;)

Dale Carrico said...

I haven't read it so I have no opinion on the matter. What did it say, what did you think of it, and how does it connect to the claims I made in this post to which you are commenting?

RadicalCoolDude said...

What did it say?

Escrow argues that "any possible amalgam of the House and Senate bills, as they now stand, will look very much like the plan once called Romneycare in Massachusetts. It will be highly (if not entirely) dependent on private health insurance, will lack meaningful price controls, and will be forced of necessity to leave a great many people uninsured even after passage. It will do great things for the lower-income uninsured - which is to be celebrated - but it will do so by placing disproportionate financial burdens on the middle class." Therefore, as the title of the article suggests, this health reform bill could lose the middle class for Democrats.

What did you think of it?

I like it because, although I've always beeen aware of the dire consequences of health reform failure for both President Obama and the Democrats, no one has made realize until now the perverse consequences of the successful passage of a bad health reform bill... :/

And how does it connect to the claims I made in this post to which you are commenting?

Well, you argue that "getting this ungainly bill passed will be good for good government and good for Democrats". Escrow explains why you (and Rachel Maddow, whom he loves) may be wrong...

Dale Carrico said...

I completely disagree. If even this bill doesn't pass complete demoralization sets in, Republicans crow, Democrats descend into a circular firing squad and there's no way to spin that as a win. Mid-terms historically are trouble for a party in the Democrats' position and should our tenuous majorities slip the Party of No will make it impossible to accomplish anything and then use the failures they engineer to flog the anti-governmentality they always do. I am very confused why anybody thought we should try health care reform at all if these are the arguments we are hearing -- did anybody honestly expect this process to look otherwise than this? Did anybody not grasp the stakes of making this effort? To say that the bill we get from reconciliation will be nothing but a shit sandwich is actually flabbergastingly wrong if it contains prohibitions on denials of care for "prior conditions" and comparable provisions everybody wants in it. Everybody with a brain wants medicare for all and nobody thinks that's accomplishable given the incumbent interests Congress is struggling to negotiate through, but this grownup recognition doesn't justify the hyperbolic denial that even a wan public option won't provide any cost containment at all -- it would. Meanwhile, the surely mostly crappy bill we get (as compared to the incomparably better bill we want) is best seen as a game-changing foot in the door that alters the structural terms of the terrain on which advocates for actual health care reform continue to fight for the next fifteen years for ever better public healthcare, in a virtuous circle in which more and more people are better and better covered while more and more people see more ways in which better government makes their lives better, not just due to Democratic efforts against Republican efforts but in the name of good government as such, death knell to Movement Conservative commonsense. Anybody who thinks what we get is worse than nothing need only spend some time observing the hostility of Republicans to its passage. Most democrats are quite aware of the stakes at hand, most are quite as aware as we are that "healthcare reform" that compels majorities to buy crap insurance from evil corporations they despise is fatally stupid, and are also pro-choice and not at all inclined to let the Stu-pack hijack this effort with their feudal sexism. Of course, if Escrow means just to point out that I may be wrong, of course that's given. But I don't think so. At all.