When Arizona Republican John Shadegg used a seven-month-old baby as a prop during yesterday’s debate on health care, his symbolism was more apt than intended. What the House passed last night was a bowel movement of a bill diapered by competitive political posturing to cover a messy pile of mandates, entitlements, wishful savings and iffy tax changes.
To call the legislative process that produced this excretion infantile insults the newborn. President Obama labeled last night’s achievement “history,” but it will take months to sort through 1990 pages of dense matter, wait for the Senate to dump its version and shape the remains into a bill for him to sign.
The bottom line is to preserve the world’s most expensive system that produces terrible results but enriches insurance companies and encourages provider waste, theft and abuse.
At an estimated ten-year cost of over $1 trillion, this “reform” will deliver 36 million Americans now uninsured to the tender mercies of those same greed machines while attempting to control its worst excesses with a “public option” that has been ground into pablum and will no doubt disappear completely in the Senate.
Along the way, this plan for social progress acquired a regressive abortion restriction that will have to be extracted as well as who-knows-how-many similar jokers in the deck at the hands of the wizards of legislative legerdemain.
In the coming months, the defeat of Bill Clinton’s attempt to clean up health care in 1993 may stir nostalgia in those now watching Barack Obama’s victory lap.