It was really rough just to watch, but in the end the deed was done.

I assume most of our US readers are aware of how really awful the US health care debate got.  But for those in other countries, the daily pelting with sheer lies may have been less noticeable.  It was horrifying to see something so important flounder because elected  officials decided to say whatever would turn people off.   This was beyond stressful.  And that’s just for an observer, usually well over a thousand miles away.

It is  a very imperfect bill, and there are some huge problems remaining.  The  anti-choice victories revealed how a woman’s health is still regarded as something the guys should control.  But at least the country came closer to solving some of the problems revealed in the free clinics this last year.  And that were visible anyway to anyone with the wit to recognize what is going on.  So many, many thanks to the Congress for getting the bill passed.

For those who weren’t getting the daily Repulican rhetoric, Paul Krugman has a useful summary:

Instead, the emotional core of opposition to reform was blatant fear-mongering, unconstrained either by the facts or by any sense of decency.

It wasn’t just the death panel smear. It was racial hate-mongering, like a piece in Investor’s Business Daily declaring that health reform is “affirmative action on steroids, deciding everything from who becomes a doctor to who gets treatment on the basis of skin color.” It was wild claims about abortion funding. It was the insistence that there is something tyrannical about giving young working Americans the assurance that health care will be available when they need it, an assurance that older Americans have enjoyed ever since Lyndon Johnson — whom Mr. Gingrich considers a failed president — pushed Medicare through over the howls of conservatives.

And let’s be clear: the campaign of fear hasn’t been carried out by a radical fringe, unconnected to the Republican establishment… On the eve of the big vote, Republican members of Congress warned that “freedom dies a little bit today” and accused Democrats of “totalitarian tactics,” which I believe means the process known as “voting.”

And some people sought out a low one had hoped we had moved away from.  A comment on Krugman’s column describes part of  the outburst of racism:

[I feel] horrendous sorrow because of how the protesters treated John Lewis yesterday. For these people to call him these despicable racist names and literally spit on him was deplorable. … Mr. Lewis is not only an honorable man he is an integral part of our American history. He marched with Dr. King regularly and was historically photographed with his head busted open and blood running down his face. What do these people want for a person of color to qualify to be an American?

12 thoughts on “It was really rough just to watch, but in the end the deed was done.

  1. Absolutely not. I spent too much time checking out those quotes when I first saw them in a comment on cnn. We do not provide a forum for false statements like that.
    I’m sorry for you if you were taken in by the propaganda.

  2. My facebook newsfeed today was filled with some pretty terrible debate via peoples status updates. It was kind of absurd. Republicans are really good at marketing- i.e. call the inheritance tax a death tax, and you change how people feel about it, call health care reform socialism, and you change how people feel about it. I wish our national politics contained more exchange of information and less psychological tactics.

  3. Kathryn – Unfortunately, there is a multi-state movement afoot to claim that states rights are being trampled, and therefore do not have to comply because it is unconstitutional. Let us hope there is a strong enough countermovement to squash this, and legal precedent and enough political courage to do so.

  4. jj, the racial slurs were shockingly retrograde, as were those against Barney Frank. I also found troubling the news that some people had an old-fashioned broom with a sign, “Pelosi’s new ride.” It boggles the mind!

  5. j- do you know exactly on what grounds the claim is that this is unconstitutional? I’ve read a bunch of articles on this now, and can’t find any specific claims…

  6. Kathryn: ‘ “The Constitution nowhere authorizes the United States to mandate, either directly or under threat of penalty, that all citizens and legal residents have qualifying health care coverage,” the lawsuit says.
    Legal experts say it has little chance of succeeding because, under the Constitution, federal laws trump state laws.’

    The quote above is from an AP article (Google “13 attorneys general sue over health care overhaul”) – the best I have found so far, which isn’t much.

  7. The argument, I take it is that Congress’s power can only extend so far through the interstate commerce clause but that this can’t all be fit under that clause — to give just one example, the requirement to buy insurance or be fined means that Congress is not only regulating those engaging in commerce but also those not engaging in it, and so forth.

    I don’t think it’s any secret why the challenge is being issued, though, and it has very little to do with states’ rights. Most of the states involved are having difficulty meeting federal requirements under the current system; in some cases it’s really an open question whether they will be even remotely able to meet the heftier requirements under the new system. Whether in the courts or not, they are going to resist every step of the way. I don’t think people realize the extent to which this has only just begun: everything that has happened so far has just been to put things in place for the fight to begin.

  8. I’m no lawyer, but I think you could make a pretty good argument that this does fit under the commerce clause since virtually everyone seeks out medical treatment at some point. And you can’t legally be denied emergency treatment, but then often those who are uninsured can’t pay for it- so requiring health insurance is like requiring car insurance (because while only those who drive are required car insurance, every citizen impacts our national healthcare costs). And the language of the clause just says “commerce” without any qualifier on it (like those engaging in commerce)… So I guess, I still don’t get it (outside of Brandon’s point, about this not really being the reasoning behind the suit).

  9. It’s a straight-up states’ rights argument based on a very narrow (and currently disfavored) reliance on the 10th Amendment, and all serious legal scholars who have been interviewed publicly believe that it will fail. Keep in mind, though, that Bush got to appoint a lot of Federal judges while he was President, so this may stick around for a while. (We also have a very conservative Supreme Court, but nobody knowledgeable seems concerned that they would go this way.)

  10. (BTW, I’m not a lawyer, but I am trained as one in the US. So if I get too geeky about law, call me on it and I’ll define terms. I recognize that this is philosophy space, not law space.)

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