Two days after health care reform and America hasn’t ceased to be as a nation….

…despite what some on the right would have us believe.

While folks on the far-right fringe like Peter DiGaudio are bucking for an Academy Award for his dramatic assertion that our nation’s death certificate was signed on March 21, 2010, here we still are. Then again, Peter’s the same guy who said he’d put a bounty on President Obama’s head if he had the money, so it’s kinda hard to take Peter seriously, given how unhinged he clearly is.

Predictably, the folks over at Badger Blogger threw in a reference to communism, as if America will cast off two hundred-plus years of democracy in favor of Soviet-style communism, and over at Boots and Sabers Owen Robinson – typically a more rational conservative – is predicting violent revolution.

However, while conservatives are predicting the end of days, former Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich notes that what so many conservatives have labeled “Obamacare” is actually based on ideas developed during the Eisenhower and Nixon administrations:

It’s not nearly as momentous as the passage of Medicare in 1965 and won’t fundamentally alter how Americans think about social safety nets. But the likely passage of Obama’s health care reform bill is the biggest thing Congress has done in decades, and has enormous political significance for the future.

Medicare directly changed the life of every senior in America, giving them health security and dramatically reducing their rates of poverty. By contrast, most Americans won’t be affected by Obama’s health care legislation. Most of us will continue to receive health insurance through our employers. (Only a comparatively small minority will be required to buy insurance who don’t want it, or be subsidized in order to afford it. Only a relatively few companies will be required to provide it who don’t now.)

Medicare built on Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal notion of government as insurer, with citizens making payments to government, and government paying out benefits. That was the central idea of Social Security, and Medicare piggybacked on Social Security.

Obama’s legislation comes from an alternative idea, begun under the Eisenhower administration and developed under Nixon, of a market for health care based on private insurers and employers. Eisenhower locked in the tax break for employee health benefits; Nixon pushed prepaid, competing health plans, and urged a requirement that employers cover their employees. Obama applies Nixon’s idea and takes it a step further by requiring all Americans to carry health insurance, and giving subsidies to those who need it.

So don’t believe anyone who says Obama’s health care legislation marks a swing of the pendulum back toward the Great Society and the New Deal. Obama’s health bill is a very conservative piece of legislation, building on a Republican rather than a New Deal foundation. The New Deal foundation would have offered Medicare to all Americans or, at the very least, featured a public insurance option.

Make no bones about it – the health insurance reform legislation that will be signed into law by President Obama isn’t perfect – legislation in general rarely is – but it’s certainly a big step in the right direction, and it’s certainly better than the Republican plan of doing nothing.

H/T to Mercury Rising.


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17 thoughts on “Two days after health care reform and America hasn’t ceased to be as a nation….

  1. Dumbest post ever. “hasn’t ceased to be a nation” / “here we still are” Two days later nothing has changed because it’s not even law yet! Heck, it sounds like they’re not even done writing it. It’s full effects won’t be felt for years. Are you kidding me?!

    And no, just doing something isn’t always better than doing nothing. You can make it worse. I wonder how soon Dems will propose new taxes on soda and fast food to pay for this monstrosity. Wait, before you point it out, Mayor Bloomberg already proposed this and he claims to be a Republican. Maybe the Dems will give me a tax break if I promise to get on the treadmill every day. And they said Bush was Big Brother. Don’t forget, he gave us Medicare Part D — another step in the right direction?

    Soc Sec, Medicare, Medicaid, Part D, and now this. We are on an unsustainable path. More, more, more. Anything for the baby boomers. Can’t say no to the Me generation and every one that follows.

    Last of all, Obama breaks another pledge by not waiting five days for public view before signing this.

    1. Last of all, Obama breaks another pledge by not waiting five days for public view before signing this.

      No I’m pretty sure he had his fingers crossed on that one. 🙂

      I generally very much enjoy listening to Robert Reich – even though I disagree with 95% of what he says, the guy cracks me up. But c’mon Bob. There is one problem above all else with our health care – costs have been rising out of control. That is a multiplier that makes everything else worse – it puts a huge strain on the whole system. Medicare is one of the largest contributors to the price inflation as under-reimbursement of Medicare paid-for procedures has been paid for by increased costs to the rest of us.

      We are a resilient and inventive country. People will treat this as a defect and route around it (apologies to John Gilmore). Good doctors and nurses will provide the same quality of care they always have – though I’d bet there will be a lot less doctors to do it. I’d be awful nervous if I worked at a company with around 50-60 employees because most will become 49 employee companies. Even large companies with a cadre of lawyers have assessed the plan and estimate they will be making significant cuts to their workforce as a result. Great – exactly what we need, more unemployment. Ah, who needs a job. The government can just pay us & print more money.

      Ultimately despite it all, by far my nightmare scenario – which seems to be more and more likely with each passing day – is not people ticked off about insurance or the government getting too involved in their health. It isn’t about the loss of freedoms – since only a depressingly small percentage of people care about that. It’s the absolutely enormous debt – that will be cripling. And people seem to think we can just print more money to pay for it. Our dollar is going to be so devalued – well we’ve been lucky to not have experienced inflation in this country in quite some time. The nightmare scenario is 15% inflation along with that debt and a country more dependant on foreign goods – especially from China, who unfortunately also happens to be the largest holder of our debt. I shouldn’t have to spell it out – suffice to say, it will make us look back at this recession as the good old days.

    2. I thought the house was changing their bill to match the one that was passed in the senate? If so, the senate bill has been online since the end of December 2009.

      1. I think the 5 days applies after the bill passes both houses and goes to the President’s desk. Otherwise you could just say the bill was introduced (and therefore public) months or years ago and that’s your out every time. I don’t think that’s what Candidate Obama had in mind, but as we know now President Obama is a very different story.

    3. I just read a couple of the links…

      Forgot…You are calling this the “dumbest post ever”?? Yeah…I can see that compared to all the links provided by Zach to the conservative blogs. Flying the flag upside down certainly isn’t “dumb”…right? Predicting a violent revolution isn’t “dumb” either…right? (Sarcasm off)

      Wow…I just don’t get it. What is wrong with all these fear mongering people?

      1. You don’t think it’s idiotic to claim proof the sky hasn’t fallen before the bill has even taken effect? No, I’m sure Zach is right — it’s an astounding success! How would we know yet?

        1. And you don’t think it’s idiotic to claim a violent revolution will happen? We don’t know how successful it will or won’t be but to call for a civil war is unbelievable idiotic…and I will even say it’s unpatriotic. If you want to get consumed by fear…please by all means go right ahead…but I don’t think it’s very healthy. Good thing you won’t have to worry about health care once you have ruined your health by stressing over the bloody civil war that won’t ever happen.

          1. Well you can hardly blame some people for getting a little too emotional and worked up. Ok, a literal civil war — probably not. You say that kind of talk is unpatriotic. Because it is based on this issue or just in general?

            Why is it wrong to fear something you know will be harmful? I wouldn’t say I fear it as much as I resent it and angered by it and frustrated that government is taking more control of the private economy and our lives.

            Did you come up with another private good that the government makes every living soul buy?

  2. There has been much more progress in the quality of healthcare since Medicare than there was prior. But nobody talks about that.
    I know that companies introduced products because of government reimbursement. MRI and PET scanners are two examples.

  3. Whether you are for this bill or not, or whether you think it will or won’t do a particular thing, keep this in mind: this is the first time the government has required us all to purchase a private product.

    That’s kind of astounding isn’t it? By just the fact that you are born and living and breathing, the government can require you to buy something.

    1. What about Social Security and Medicare? As soon as you start earning a paycheck you start “buying” the social security and medicare product.

  4. If I am mistaken, prove me wrong. What other product does government make us purchase?

    Social Security and Medicare are not private products, they are government programs. Besides, in some cases you can opt out of SS or Medicare (boy I wish I could) and if you are unemployed obviously you are not contributing.

    Again, this is a mandate based on existence and for a private product. If conservatives tried that you would say they are in kaootz with big business.

    1. The requirement for insurance to drive a car is the closest thing – but you can choose not to drive a car. This health care requirement, as you say, requires that you purchase health insurance because you exist – there’s no opting out. The other difference is that car insurance is primarily to protect society – others. It’s the liability that’s required, not coverage for yourself.

      Of course what you’re likely hinting at is the constitutionality of this. They’ve thought ahead. The IRS is to be in charge of enforcement and levying the fines, so they’ll claim it’s not really a health policy or forcing a product, it’s just your run of the mill tax collection.

    2. “If conservatives tried that you would say they are in kaootz with big business.” Which is why I am surprised no republicans voted for it. They are usually for big business, and this is going to add a lot of people to the insurance rolls.

      1. Conservatives don’t support it because it takes more individual freedom away. It turns private insurance carriers into vehicles to deliver government mandates. Eventually it will just be the government, which is exactly what you want.

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