Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Passage of healthcare reform brings threats and jubiliation

The passage of historic healthcare reform legislation on Sunday by the US House of Representatives brought a flood of threats from Republicans; racial/ethnic slurs and acts of terrorism against Democratic supporters; and shouts of joy from supporters. With passage in the Senate, President Obama was ready with his signing pen.

After a year of wrangling, the debate will likely continue for a while. Some states also want to opt out of the reform, using the states' rights argument. Governor Jan Brewer is among those governors opposing expanded healthcare coverage because she says it will cost too much. Of course, Brewer and her Republican cronies in the Legislature just knocked thousands of adults and children off of the state's healthcare rolls. As a result, the state will lose billions of dollars in matching funds. (Personally, I'm beginning to think they are all bad at math-- besides being uncaring. Why eliminate worthwhile programs that bring in revenue and help thousands of Arizona residents?)

Republicans like Arizona Senator John McCain have publicly vowed to fight against reform and other legislation brought forth by President Obama and the Congressional Democrats. To which most progressives said, "What else is new?"

On yesterday's John C. Scott radio show, McCain spun his tale with only softball questions (more like set-ups) from Scott.

McCain was trying hard to revive his Maverick image and deny the moderate flip-flop image his opponent J.D. Hayworth is spinning about him. McCain said the healthcare legislation was "a sham" and vowed to "fight in the Senate, fight in Tucson, fight in Phoenix, fight in Flagstaff, and fight across Arizona." I think by "fight" he means "campaign". How will his obstructionist stance play out in the fall election? Why would anyone vote for someone who's primary strategy is to say, "no"?

McCain also railed against the use of reconciliation to "ram it through" the Congress. Of course, neglecting the fact that Republicans have used this strategy 17 out of 23 times, since it was created a few decades ago.

So, healthcare politics continues. Although right-wingers will continue to try to stop or reverse reform, progressive will be pushing for more. As Ed Schultz said this morning, we are in the midst of a culture war that goes far beyond this legislation. After verbal and physical attacks against Democrats who supported this legislation, I totally agree with him.

Above, pro-reform protesters outside Senator John McCain's Tucson office.

This article originally appeared as a piece in my Progressive Examiner column.

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