Good News on Healthcare!
UPDATE: If the House bill is used, universal healthcare will create a $5 billion SURPLUS!. We can afford this. We can’t afford to put it off. We can’t afford the status quo and we can’t afford 2 wars, a military budget higher than the next 25 nations combined, and constant multi-trillion dollar bailouts for Wall Street. There is a moral dimension. Healthcare is a right. Failure to provide this because of fears that rich people will pay more taxes (or, as rightwing radio is trying to convince elderly whites in Appalachia, fear that Medicare will be taken away from poor whites to give to “undeserving” African-Americans and Latinos in the cities–or whatever fear is given) is an utter moral failure as a society: on the level of slavery, child labor, segregation, denial of workers’ rights to organize, etc.
1) The mainstream media (whose real biases are laziness, love of conflict, love of the sensational, and a bias toward corporate interests) and the Conservadems joined forces yesterday to claim that the Congressional Budget Office had just pronounced healthcare reform “too expensive.” As if the current system isn’t too expensive. But they were using an incomplete report on an incomplete bill. The final CBO report on the House healthcare bill finds it at least revenue neutral and may even generate a surplus! [Update: New info. shows that the link may be wrong. The original figure of $1 trillion over 10 years may be right. Thanks to K Gray for calling to my attention that the link was wrong. Unlike the mainstream media, I’m always ready to correct myself. But don’t panic–the military budget costs more than $1 trillion EVERY YEAR. And a universal healthcare system would save more American lives than the military. We could pay for universal healthcare by cutting the military budget (get rid of the nukes and “missile defense”), cutting out agricultural supports for commercial farmers [our biggest form of welfare and it doesn’t go to family farms but to agribusiness], adding a nickle surtax to every all fast food and an additional quarter on every pack of cigarettes. Plus once cost controls are put in for drugs, and we push hard on preventive medicine, those healthcare costs start dropping dramatically.)
2) The final House bill not only includes a robust public option, but an amendment that allows individual states to be laboratories in democracy by adopting single payer systems! Canada’s excellent single payer system (socialized health insurance, not socialized medicine–government funded but privately delivered) began in one province and then spread. I expect the large states, CA, NY to adopt single payer first (provided we can get this amendment in the final version that the president signs). When it proves successful, others will follow. States where health insurance companies have large presences (NE, KY) will be last to adopt this.
Since both the House and Senate versions have actually gotten out of committee, we are closer to success than ever before. We may actually cease to be the only industrial democracy that thinks treating sick people should be a way to make a profit and that sick people who are poor should just die already! 72% of the nation wants a public option (90% of Democrats and even 50% of Republicans) and we are ONLY facing an insurance industry spending a million dollars per day to stop it!
People power! Call your Representatives and Senators and tell them to pass universal healthcare!
P.S. In Bush’s first year of office, he passed a tax cut (aimed mostly at the upper 1%) which cut over $1.5 trillion in revenue over 10 years time. (Then he cut taxes for the rich again in 2002 and again in 2003.) So, even if the “healthcare will cost $1 trillion over 10 years” meme is accurate, we can pay for it by ending the Bush tax giveaways. Oh, and of the 6 Senators begging Obama to “slow down healthcare reform”(code for “keep the status quo”), 4 of them: Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Olympia Snowe (R-ME), Susan Collins (R-ME), and Ben Insurance-Companies-Own-Me Nelson (D-NE), VOTED FOR THAT 1.5 trillion tax giveaway.
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