One of the most important pieces of federal policy has just passed the House of Representatives. Ezra Klein, health care reform columnist for the Washington Post, says “tonight’s vote changed tens of millions of lives for the better, and literally saved hundreds of thousands of those lives.”
33% rate increases, insurance denial based on pre-existing health conditions, and not having health insurance because you’re between jobs just became a thing of the past. There’s no doubt that this bill will directly impact every single American. Nearly every American will soon have health care–whether on your own through the private market, through your employer, or from federal subsidies that will assist those who cannot afford it.
The bill passed on a close vote of 219 to 212 (it needed 216 to pass). I’m guessing most of you weren’t streaming CSPAN at 9:30 on a Sunday night like myself, but there was one thing throughout the debate that is crystal clear–this vote illustrated how polarized our nation’s representative democracy has become. Aside from the obvious appalling actions of the teabag protesters throughout the day (black members of congress being called the “N” word as they walked by and homophobic remarks launched at Barney Frank during a press conference), the unruliness carried over onto the House floor as well. One member even yelled “baby killer” at the pro-life Democrat Rep. Stupak while he was urging his colleagues to not vote for procedural tricks to kill the bill.
I’m not one that pretends to swear by bipartisanship. Frankly, I think Democrats may have given in too much to Republicans on this health care bill only to get exactly zero of their votes on the final bill. However, I do think there is an obvious void in much of today’s politics: inherent respect for one another and our differences in opinions.
I’m not going to sit here and come to some false conclusion about why this is the case, nor do I really care to understand it completely. All I know is that our government did a good thing for the American people tonight. I can’t wait until we can look back and agree on that.
As Pelosi said in her closing remarks tonight, “Senator Kennedy wrote that access to health care was the great unfinished business of our society – that is, until today.”
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