Yesterday the Healthcare bill passed 219 – 212. Obama’s persistence paid off.
My first inclination was that this is a political victory for Obama. In 2 1/2 years Obama will have the trump card that will get him elected for four more years. He’ll be able to stand in front of the American people with evidence of his tenacity, strategy and persistence. These are hard things to come by in American politics. He’ll be able to stand in front of the Republican party and say, “I won.” (But I doubt he’d do that.)
But is this really a victory for Obama?
Some pundits on CNN were calling this the most important civil rights bill in the last 40 years. It can only be compared to the sweeping changes made by Kennedy and Johnson because it directly affects the poor and working class. For the first time in America’s history, the representatives essentially said that caring for all the people is a mandate. Healthcare is a basic right of the people.
I feel this tension. I pay for my own healthcare costs. I have the most basic plan available with a massive $7,500 deductible and I still pay about $8,000 a year for my family. I don’t even know how some families make it. It’s a huge cost. And I haven’t been to the doctor in ten years. I’ve watched my basic plan get stripped down and the cost raised every single quarter for about six years. Something is deeply broken.
I have a lot of friends who are concerned for the cost of the whole thing. But I would suggest that the cost of not doing it is higher. When we exclude a category, we’re setting up the possibility of becoming one in that category. If the recession taught us anything it is that there are a lot of people closer to bankruptcy and the edge than we thought. This bill is essentially saying, “We’re not going to leave you behind.”
(Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty.)