By Manifesto Joe
The public option for health insurance probably doesn't stand a chance in the Senate. Renegade Joe Lieberman and several "blue dog" DINOs are very likely to stop it from getting to an up-or-down vote like we saw in the House late Saturday. But it was worth it to go this far, for three big reasons.
1. The debate has been educational, and the American public needed schooling on this subject.
I confess that I didn't know before this summer that private insurers, in the current system, have an exemption from federal antitrust laws. They've had it for many decades, all the way back to 1945. (Here's a link.) And yet these Tea Party imbeciles persist in bellowing about free markets, and patient choice? Unfortunately, there's no FDA-approved treatment for stupidity on the "free market" yet.
This antitrust exemption was apparently, in part, the brainchild of U.S. Sen. Pat McCarran, D-Nev. (Another link.) McCarran (1876-1954) was one of the era's notorious Red-baiters, chief sponsor of the McCarran Internal Security Act of 1950, which required Communist Party members and those in affiliated "fronts" to register with the government. By the way, the act was never enforced, and major provisions of it were ruled unconstitutional in 1965 and 1967, as it was decided that even commies have free-speech guarantees. This "distinguished gentleman," Sen. McCarran, was living proof that DINOs were around in the 1940s, too.
Another thing that this year's debate has made clear: The majority of U.S. bankruptcies are the result of catastrophic illnesses -- combined with a monopolistic private health insurance system that doesn't cover 47 million people, or can simply refuse to cover many others because of "pre-existing conditions."
(2) Democrats, real ones, can beat Republicans over the head with this in next year's midterm congressional elections.
The public option won in an up-or-down vote, 220-215, in the more representative and "little-d" democratic part of our legislative branch. And polls show that a majority of Americans favor a public option. There's an opportunity to pillory Republicans here, if Democrats will capitalize on it. The Republicans are ready to block something that a majority of the public had decided it wanted. Make the insurance-company prostitutes pay at the polls.
(3) If health care reform fails this time, or is diluted into just another subsidy for the private insurance industry, the eventual outcome may well be a single-payer system.
Saturday's vote in the U.S. House came against great odds -- the well-financed and ruthless opposition of the American health insurance monopoly. The vote came about because the anger that has been building among the American people for decades finally overpowered the insurance companies' almighty dollar.
If the status quo, or something like it, continues, the pressure from below will keep building. Some of the Tea Party fools may have been through illness and bankruptcy by then -- sometimes personal experience can make somebody realize that they've been a chicken supporting Colonel Sanders.
In time, we may finally get real reform: a single-payer system. If it takes misery and financial ruin for millions to get this done -- well, so be it. It took the Great Depression to turn enough Republicans into independents, and independents into Democrats, to get us something as basic as Social Security back in 1935.
I can see in this the beginnings of history repeating itself.
Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas.