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Saturday Night Special: "Historic" Vote Kills Health Care Reform for Another Generation
First published in Empire Burlesque yesterday, 8 November 2009
Well, the lipsticked pig has been set loose now. It'll be skittering and squealing around the Senate floor next, under the whiphand of master swineherd (and corporate bagman extraordinaire) Harry Reid, who makes Nancy Pelosi look like Robert LaFollette.
What did you do last Saturday night? Head out for dinner and a movie? Take in a show? Hit the clubs? Get cozy on the couch with your main squeeze? Well, here's what the U.S. House of Representatives did: they passed an "historic" health care bill which will put the kibosh on any genuine, equitable, sensible health care reform for many and many a year.
Couldn't they have just had a cookout – or a key party – instead? We would've all been better off.
Of course, the House bill, bad as it is, will be mangled beyond all recognition in that elitist abattoir known as the Senate, where no doubt even the few milder-than-milquetoast ameliorations that survived the corporate bludgeoning in the House will be cast aside. But for now, this is how, in the words of Barack Obama, our Democratic solons "answered the call of history": with a bill that places an onerous financial burden and threat of punishment on those least able to bear it, while stripping millions of the most vulnerable women in society from access to completely legal medical procedures easily available to the middle-class and the rich, and delivering to the corrupt, cruel and price-gouging insurance companies "50 million new consumers, many of them subsidized by the taxpayers," in the gushing words of Nancy Pelosi, who shepherded the bill through the House – and who was responsible for stripping abortion coverage from poor women by greenlighting the single allowed amendment to the bill.
(So, we get the first woman Speaker of the House, and what happens? The House kicks poor women in the guts – literally. What next? Our first African-American president repealing the Civil Rights Act?)
But let's turn to Arthur Silber, who has a few choice words about these world-historical developments:
But Silber, for one, is not surprised by any of this. As he notes:
And thus it came to pass on Saturday night, exactly as Swanson foretold. The 57 public-option stalwarts folded like a concertina; almost all of the few Democrats who ended up opposing the bill were so-called Blue Dogs, who resolutely oppose any public option at all. But as Swanson noted, by this time, the only thing that mattered to most "progressives" – certainly the "serious ones," the ones who want to be "inside the tent," with liaisons with White House staffers, etc. – was passing passing any bill at all:
Why is this bad bill better than no bill, to those who pushed it and passed it? Because, as Silber points out, a bad bill is the intended result of the whole exercise:
Well, the lipsticked pig has been set loose now. It'll be skittering and squealing around the Senate floor next, under the whiphand of master swineherd (and corporate bagman extraordinaire) Harry Reid, who makes Nancy Pelosi look like Robert LaFollette. Lord have mercy, we ain't seen half of how ugly this thing is gonna get.
But what should we do? Sit down on the ground and weep salt tears of despair? Silber thinks otherwise. In yet another new post (the man is cooking with gas these days) – Tribalism and the Destructive Politics of Demonization (I): The Largely Unrecognized Possibility for a New Coalition – he sets out the beginnings of a powerful, practical approach that holds out a wide promise of – dare one say it? – hope and change, in the genuine sense of those much-degraded words. I'm not going to excerpt it here, because it should be read in full. I will only urge you to repair thither forthwith, read, and consider.
Chris Floyd has been a writer and editor for more than 25 years, working in the United States, Great Britain and Russia for various newspapers, magazines, the U.S. government and Oxford University. Floyd co-founded the blog Empire Burlesque, and is also chief editor of Atlantic Free Press. He can be reached at email@example.com.
This column is republished here with the permission of the author.
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This story was published in the Baltimore Chronicle on November 9, 2009.
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