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A Muted Celebration and More Work to Do November 9, 2009

Posted by Dwight and Lynn Furrow in Dwight Furrow's Posts, politics.
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On Saturday night, for the first time in history, the House of Representatives passed legislation to provide near universal health insurance. There is still a lot of work to do before the bill becomes law and it will be a struggle getting it through the Senate. But nevertheless, Saturday’s accomplishment is noteworthy. Many Presidents and many congresses have tried to reform the health insurance system; only this President and this congress have gotten close to success.

So there is cause for some celebration.

President Obama issued the following statement:

“Tonight, in an historic vote, the House of Representatives passed a bill that would finally make real the promise of quality, affordable health care for the American people.

“The Affordable Health Care for America Act is a piece of legislation that will provide stability and security for Americans who have insurance; quality affordable options for those who don’t; and bring down the cost of health care for families, businesses, and the government while strengthening the financial health of Medicare. And it is legislation that is fully paid for and will reduce our long-term federal deficit.

“Thanks to the hard work of the House, we are just two steps away from achieving health insurance reform in America. Now the United States Senate must follow suit and pass its version of the legislation. I am absolutely confident it will, and I look forward to signing comprehensive health insurance reform into law by the end of the year.”

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has to figure out how to generate 60 votes (in our current oligarchy, a majority isn’t sufficient) without a single defection from the Democrats. So the deal is not done. But it is close.

But now for the bad news. The downside of the House vote was that Democrats had to assent to the abhorrent Stupak amendment which prevents insurance companies participating in the health care exchanges from covering abortion services. Ann Friedman is right:

On some level, I don’t care about the nitty-gritty details of this amendment. This isn’t just about how the money is allocated or what workarounds exist. This has me so incredibly infuriated because it further segregates abortion as something different, off the menu of regular health care. It is a huge backward step in the battle to convey — not just politically, but to women in their everyday lives — that reproductive health care is normal and necessary, and must be there if (or, more accurately, when) you need it.

This also sets apart women’s rights from the Democratic/progressive/whatever agenda. As something expendable. But fundamental rights for women are not peripheral. They are core. And not just because of so-called “progressive” values. In a political sense, too: Seeing as how the Democratic party relies on women voters to win elections, you would think they would have come around to this no-brainer by now.

A significant number of congresspersons (Democrats and Republicans, mostly men) were willing to vote health care reform down if it didn’t include abortion restrictions. Thousands of people die every year because of lack of health insurance. Somehow that doesn’t matter. For the religious right, forcing everyone to conform to their “doctrine” is more important than saving lives. This is what they mean by a “culture of life”.

There is some chance that this amendment can be removed from the legislation before it becomes law.

Something to keep an eye on.

 

x-posted at Reviving the Left

book-section-book-cover2 Dwight Furrow is author of

Reviving the Left: The Need to Restore Liberal Values in America

For political commentary by Dwight Furrow visit: www.revivingliberalism.com

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