Today is the day that many of us have hoped for and many others have dreaded. For our TLC regulars, as you can tell, I think this bill has to pass even though it is not as good as we would have wanted. But I also think it is not as bad as some have feared and it is much, MUCH better than the status quo. The compromise bill to be voted upon by the Senate soon makes the earlier Senate health insurance bill better.
And once this bill is passed there are a number of other things that can be done to improve it. Including Alan Grayson's proposal to allow people to buy-in to the Medicare system. Getting a vote on Grayson's proposal will be much easier once the basis of reform (universal coverage is a right, insurance companies can't cherry pick, they can't drop your coverage when you get sick, people will no longer be bankrupt for health issues) are in place. The bill on the floor today changes the base assumptions for the debate. We can, and will raise the bar higher going forward.
Our country has not seen a progressive victory (read: a significant initiative to promote the public welfare using our system of government) in decades and for many it is hard to imagine that our government might actually try to do the right thing for the American people and not just give in to the powerful. There are definitely flaws in the bill, but nevertheless, from what I've seen it is a tremendous step forward. It will shape the conversation about health care coverage going forward. After this bill gets signed, no one will be able to say with any credibility that health care coverage isn't a basic human right.
Today, when our Congress votes, they will be voting with courage and with a sense of destiny. Those of us on the left need to honor their courage and recognize their real attempt to make the lives of Americans better. No matter how cynical you've become, it is hard to say that every one of the Congress (including the Alan Graysons, the Anthony Weiners, the Pete DeFazios, and the Dennis Kucinchs) has sold out. We have seen them stand up before, it seems wrong to doubt them now just as we have a chance of winning a major victory today. And once people see that it isn't the biggest betrayal of their interests ever, and that there are many pieces that truly work for us - and not just corporations, the rest of America (even some of the most ardent teabaggers) will come along. It's time to make history.