Wednesday, March 24, 2010

That Didn’t Take Long, Did It?

Less than 36 hours after President Obama signed the historic health insurance reform bill, more Americans now support it than don’t, according to a USA Today poll released today. The newspaper reports, “By 49%-40%, those polled say it was ‘a good thing’ rather than a bad one that Congress passed the bill. Half describe their reaction in positive terms — as ‘enthusiastic’ or ‘pleased’ — while about four in 10 describe it in negative ways, as ‘disappointed’ or ‘angry.’”

What’s more, fully 52% of those polled said they feel the bill either “makes the most important changes needed” or is “a good first step, [although] more changes are needed.” With most in the GOP and many right wing pundits screaming about the bill being “shoved down the country’s throat” and wildly asserting that “the vast majority of American don’t want health care reform” one has to wonder how these numbers could have developed so quickly.

Might it be that Americans are beginning to learn what’s contained within the bill? Might it be that most Americans – that is to say, a clear majority – are tired of things like pre-existing conditions and being dropped just when one needs health insurance? How about the fact that this bill assures that check-ups and other preventive care will – for the first time in history – be covered by new insurance policies with no co-payments?

Is it perfect? Of course not. And no one – no one – has suggested that it is. Is it a start? Indeed.

What troubles me the most is the deception and fear-mongering that has informed and surrounded this so-called debate. Taxes are not hiked on the middle-class, they are hiked on those earning more than $250,000 a year. In the last twenty-thirty years, the real rates of taxation have steadily fallen on the wealthiest in our society while rising on the middle and lower middle class. It’s about time that this trend gets reversed. I’m not engaging in class warfare here; rather, I am advocating some basic sense of fairness. The gap between rich and poor has never been as wide as it is today. Closing it would be a good thing for all Americans. Does this bill fix that problem? Not entirely, no. But it’s a good start.

Obama ran on health care reform. He told the American people that this would be his biggest domestic priority. So, how can anyone express great surprise that he pushed hard for this? It’s what we elected him to do!

A conservative friend of mine recently griped to me that many of the proposals take 3-4 years to kick in, as if this proves that it’s bad. Obama addressed this issue directly before signing the bill yesterday, explaining that certain elements are phased in over time so that changes are made responsibly, adding, “We have to get this right!”

I agree.

I believe that as Americans learn what this bill does and does not do that support for it will only continue to rise. I believe that the Democrats will run on health care reform next November, not away from it. I, unlike Rush and some of my other friends on the right, want this president (and by extension, our country) to succeed, not fail. And, I’m not ashamed to say it.

Certainly we will find there are things that can be done to make this bill better. Great, let’s do them. But let’s also try to engage one another once again with a modicum of civility and honest recognition of what is and is not in this or any other bill. The fact is there are some two-hundred GOP proposals contained within the bill Mr. Obama signed yesterday. The bill didn’t garner any GOP votes, but it’s got a lot of GOP ideas. As it should. Let’s all turn down the rhetorical heat a bit and keep our eyes on what’s important. Namely, our country and the health of our citizens.