House Democrats Approve Healthcare Overhaul. President Obama to Sign Historic Achievement into Law

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House Approves Health Overhaul, Sending Landmark Bill to Obama

By a vote of 219 to 212, the House passed the bill after a day of tumultuous debate that echoed the epic struggle of the last year. The action sent the bill to President Obama, whose crusade for such legislation has been a hallmark of his presidency.

“This isn’t radical reform, but it is major reform,” Mr. Obama said after the vote. “This legislation will not fix everything that ails our health care system, but it moves us decisively in the right direction. This is what change looks like.”

House passes healthcare overhaulIn a major victory for the president, Democratic leaders get the Senate version passed, then engineer passage of a package designed to reconcile that bill and the one OKd by the House last year.

Democratic leaders hailed the healthcare overhaul as historic legislation on par with the enactment of Social Security after the Great Depression and Medicare in the 1960s.

Underscoring that sense of history, House Rules Chairwoman Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) brought to the floor and read from a copy of the typed 1939 letter that President Franklin D. Roosevelt sent to Congress asking it to make a national healthcare program part of the Social Security Act.

“This is a historic day, and we are happy warriors,” said Rep. John Larson (D-Conn.) in an appearance on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “We will be a part of history, joining Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s passage of Social Security, Lyndon Johnson’s passage of Medicare and now Barack Obama’s passage of healthcare.”

Republicans didn’t see it that way.

“Some say we’re making history. I say we’re breaking history,” said Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.).

“Only in Washington, D.C., could you say you’re going to spend $1 trillion and save the taxpayers money,” he said. “This Congress is poised to ignore the will of the majority of the American people. . . . This is the people’s House, and the people don’t want a government takeover of healthcare.”

“This trillion-dollar tragedy is just bad medicine,” Rep. Lee Terry (R-Neb.) said.

Let’s use the words conservatives and liberals here since when you go back as far as Franklin D. Roosevelt that was a time when both parties has a strange mix of conservative Republicans and Democrats ( ye old Dixiecrats for example) as well as liberal Republicans (especially from the northeast) and liberal Democrats. When it comes to social and economic progress – where the United States of America takes one more step away from the doge eat dog survival of the greediness and meanest, versus a democracy and economy for and by the people – Conservatives have not changed at all. The language remains the same. To confuse things further let’s start with Dana Milbank at WaPo – supposedly a l moderate Democrat who frequently parrots right-wing talking points and seldom has an opinion that breaks the mold of the tired old Beltway mentality. Even Dana gets our current health care carnival is dysfunctional, from Sunday, March 21, 2010 – Health reform and the specter of Alf Landon

“This is the largest tax bill in history,” the Republican leader fumed. The reform “is unjust, unworkable, stupidly drafted and wastefully financed.”

And that wasn’t all. This “cruel hoax,” he said, this “folly” of “bungling and waste,” compared poorly to the “much less expensive” and “practical measures” favored by the Republicans.

“We must repeal,” the GOP leader argued. “The Republican Party is pledged to do this.”

That was Republican presidential nominee Alf Landon in a September 1936 campaign speech. He based his bid for the White House on repealing Social Security.

Sen. John Cornyn (Texas), Sen. Lamar Alexander (Tenn.), Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) – The “maverick” sees a constitutional challenge coming. A challenge that no doubt will be as successful as the ones Cons have waged against Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. These right-wing misanthropes, among others plan to campaign ala Alf Landon on repealing heal care reform. The reform whose immediate effects will include: immediate access to insurance for uninsured Americans who are uninsured because of a pre-existing condition through a temporary high-risk pool, prohibit pre-existing condition exclusions for children in all new plans, tax credits that encourage small businesses to offer health coverage, a $250 rebate to Medicare beneficiaries who hit the prescription-drug “donut hole” (the checks would start going out June 15), require plans provide parents with the option to cover an enrollee’s dependent children until age 26, ensure consumers have access to an effective internal and external appeals process to appeal new insurance plan decisions ending the abuses of health insurance companies sudden ad usually unjustified rescission of insurance coverage and eliminate lifetime limits and restrictive annual limits on benefits in all plans ( this last one very important for those that suffer from long term chronic illnesses which insurances companies decide they just do not feel like paying anymore. These are the nightmarish socialist-fascist-draconian changes which have invited the threat of conservatives carrying out armed rebellion and murder if enacted.

Firedoglake has the text of the executive order that President Obama wrote to placate Rep. Bart Stupak(D-Mich). We’ll be hearing a lot about this for at least a few days. I could be wrong, but much of the objections do the EO are overblown. An EO cannot countermand legislation that Congress has passed. What the House just did was pass the language in the Senate Bill. The EO seems on my reading – others that disagree of this writing include the pro-choice National Organization for Women because the EO reiterates the Hyde Amendment. Though the Senate bills specifically maintains the right of a woman to add a rider to her insurance coverage – about a dollar out of her own pocket to buy abortion coverage,

Let’s go to Page 2069 through Page 2078 of the Senate-passed bill. It says, “If a qualified plan provides [abortion] coverage … the issuer of the plan shall not use any amount attributable to [health reform’s government-funding mechanisms] for purposes of paying for such services.” (This is on Page 2072.) That seems pretty straightforward. No government funding for abortions. (Except in the case of rape, incest, or a threat to the mother’s life—the same exceptions granted under current law.) If a health insurer selling through the exchanges wishes to offer abortion coverage—the federal government may not require it to do so, and the state where the exchange is located may (the bill states) pass a law forbidding it to do so—then the insurer must collect from each enrollee (regardless of sex or age) a separate payment to cover abortion. The insurer must keep this pool of money separate to ensure it won’t be commingled with so much as a nickel of government subsidy. (This is on Pages 2072-2074.)

If a woman objects to having abortion coverage she is not required to buy it.

What really rankles Stupak (and the bishops) isn’t that the Senate bill commits taxpayer dollars to funding abortion. Rather, it’s that the Senate bill commits taxpayer dollars to people who buy private insurance policies that happen to cover abortion at nominal cost to the purchaser (even the poorest of the poor can spare $1 a month) and no cost at all to the insurer. Stupak and the bishops don’t have a beef with government spending. They have a beef with market economics.

I think what the President did was assure Stupak that the Congressman’s wholly misguided interpretation was just that and also helped Stupak and the anti-choice Democrats political cover. The latter is in reality unnecessary, but such is the power of appearances. My interpretation of the EO might be off a bit and we’re sure to hear other POVs this week.

Congress Matters also has some great finds from the past regarding Conservative predictions that this or that policy or legislation spelled certain doom for the entire country, From the files by David Waldman

On the 1993 deficit reduction package:

Rep. Robert Michel (R-IL), Los Angeles Times, 5/28/93:

They will remember who let loose this deadly virus into our economic bloodstream.

Rep. Newt Gingrich (R-GA), GOP Press Conference, House TV Gallery, 8/5/93:

I believe this will lead to a recession next year. This is the Democrat machine’s recession, and each one of them will be held personally accountable.

The Clinton-Democrats deficit reduction package left Bush with a surplus which he and congressional conservatives squandered.

On Medicare:

Rep. Durward Hall (R-MO), 4/8/65:

…we cannot stand idly by now, as the Nation is urged to embark on an ill-conceived adventure in government medicine, the end of which no one can see, and from which the patient is certain to be the ultimate sufferer.

Rep. James Utt (R-CA):

We are going on the assumption that this is not socialized medicine. Let me tell you here and now it is socialized medicine.

Whether it is social Security, deficit reduction, tax policy, Medicare, WMD in Iraq – historically conservatives are rarely right and their predictions of national Armageddon are the rantings of Chicken-Littles. If they want to go down in history as the loser party that has never gotten anything right they are well on their way. By all means they should campaign on repealing health-care reform we can expect to pick up a few more seats in the Senate and House in 2012.

While HCR is a victory for everyone, among other accomplishments HCR may also make Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi the most effective and powerful Speaker in history.

Name two walking irrelevant dinosaurs. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Faux News propagandist Bill Kristol. They have one obvious thing in common, they’re never right. If that were not enough, neither have accomplished anything for the average American working family. Hatch has achieved fortune through the power and prestige of public office – certainly not through hard work. While Kristol was born with a silver spoon in his mouth. One that he has never removed least he have to actually achieve something on the merits of his work and ideas. That we average Americans are now free to join together to help each other rankles both these dinosaurs to no end.