I am not alone

FWIW, I see that Kevin Drum agrees with me. First he quotes Jeremy Scahill:

Let’s be clear here:  This is a complete and total sellout to the interests of the insurance lobby by the Obama administration. This is, as Michael Moore has said, a complete victory for the ultra-capitalists.

Drum disagrees. In his opinion, the bill is

not only an enormous first step forward, but the only way to make that first step. A government-run single-payer solution was never even remotely politically plausible, and anyone who insisted on jettisoning our current framework of private insurers as a condition of reforming healthcare would never get any serious reform passed. End of story.


As for the private insurance industry, I’ll make a prediction:  within 20 years it will be gone in all but name. Either the federal government will fund the vast majority of health insurance, or else private insurers will essentially be regulated utilities, as they are in Germany or the Netherlands. This bill is the beginning of the end for all of them.

On the latter point:  Jonathan Bernstein agrees that the Affordable Care Act is merely a first step. The public option that Aaron argued for in the comment section of my previous post? It may arrive in the near future:

I think the public option is going to be a major plank of future (including 2010) Democratic campaigns, and is likely to become law in the not-distant future. Short version of the argument:  liberals really love it, it polls well [as Aaron pointed out] and so candidates are unlikely to believe that it will hurt them, and it can be passed through a future reconciliation bill (and it scores well, so it can be used to “pay” for higher subsidy levels, or unrelated items, or even deficit reduction).

I think there’s going to be a lot of pressure from liberals to add a public option through reconciliation in the next Congress, if Democrats still have the majority, and if it doesn’t happen then I do think Obama is likely to campaign for it in 2012.

President Obama? Would he really campaign on the public option?

According to xpostfactoid, President Obama is an incremental reformer with a comprehensive soul. Again:  fundamental change by degrees is what he’s after. xpostfactoid quotes the President:

The ship of state is an ocean liner; it’s not a speed boat. And so the way we are constantly thinking about this issue of how to bring about the changes that the American people need is to — is to say, if we can move this big battleship a few degrees in a different direction, we may not see all the consequences of that change a week from now or three months from now, but 10 years from now, or 20 years from now, our kids will be able to look back and say that was when we started getting serious about clean energy, that’s when health care started to become more efficient and affordable, that’s when we became serious about raising our standards in education.

Barack Obama makes history … again

I’m breaking my blog silence to celebrate a historic achievement by President Obama and the Democratic Party. I refer, of course, to the passage of a health care reform bill:  first in the Senate and, tonight, in the House of Representatives.

I understand why some individuals who supported Barack Obama during the 2008 election campaign have been disappointed in his performance to date. In particular, I concede that civil libertarians like Glenn Greenwald have legitimate cause for concern (i.e., over government infringement of the rights of individual citizens).

But President Obama staked his credibility on the issue of health care reform, which was one of the key planks in the Democrats’ 2008 election platform. Accordingly, I have refused to join the rush to judgement. After all, the President assumed office only 14 months ago!

I have bided my time, waiting to see whether the President would succeed or fail on this extraordinarily important matter.

President Obama pursued health care reform as a legislative priority despite a terrifying economic crisis. He pursued it despite a cynical misinformation campaign on the part of Republicans. (Which succeeded insofar as a majority of Americans expressed disapproval of the Democrats’ bill, based on widespread ignorance of what the bill actually would do.) President Obama pursued this priority when many of his supporters — i.e., activists on the left of the political spectrum — called for the defeat of the bill. Those supporters were disappointed that bill was not more radical — even as Republicans and Tea Party “patriots” condemned the initiative as socialism, totalitarianism, or worse.

And the President continued to pursue health care reform after the Democrats lost a special election in Massachusetts in January, which led many observers to conclude that health care reform was dead.

Tonight, against long odds, President Obama has succeeded where several presidents before him, both Democrats and Republicans, have tried and failed. Political observers have questioned whether Democrats could govern; whether they would lose courage and flee the field of battle, demoralized and confounded. Instead, it is the Republican Party which has suffered a monumental political defeat.

Americans will soon experience what health care reform means for them and their loved ones. And when they experience it, they will like it. The Republican misinformation campaign will be exposed as the hollow sham it always was.

In my opinion, President Obama has been vindicated by tonight’s events. His critics — at least, those on the left — ought to change their tune, and acknowledge that the President has delivered the goods on a key, perennial Democratic priority.

Health care reform is the most significant legislative achievement in nearly 50 years. Tonight, Barack Obama has made history — again.
Obama over the top 2(Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty)