In the effort to pass a health care bill that’s almost identical to legislation offered by Republicans in the mid-90s, Democrats have been called socialists and Nazis, and been on the receiving end of racist and anti-gay slurs. Despite all that, this happened:
So what’s next? Well, some Republicans are already planning and pushing for repeal of the legislation — which, incidentally, still isn’t law. Even more Republicans are just straight cold going unhinged. Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), who started yesterday defending the people who spat on a member of Congress and called civil rights hero John Lewis “nigger,” upped the ante last night speaking on the House floor:
By passing health care reform, Democrats “will finally lay the cornerstone of their Socialist utopia on the backs of the American people.”
“For most of the 20th century people fled the ghosts of communist dictators. And now you are bringing the ghosts back into this chamber.”
So according to guys like Devin Nunes, these provisions of the health care bill are right on par with the actions of communist dictatorships (as summarized by the New York Times):
NEAR-UNIVERSAL COVERAGE The United States is the only advanced industrial nation that does not provide or guarantee health care coverage for virtually all of its citizens. It is a moral obligation to end this indefensible neglect of hard-working Americans. The bill does not quite reach full universality, but by 2019, fully 94 to 95 percent of American citizens and legal residents below Medicare age will have coverage.
INSURANCE REFORMS The legislation would rein in many of the insurance industry’s worst practices. Insurers would no longer be able to reject applicants with “pre-existing conditions” or charge them exorbitant rates. They could not rescind policies on specious grounds after people become sick (that becomes effective immediately) or cap the amount they are willing to pay toward a beneficiary’s illnesses in any given year or over a lifetime.
A START AT COST CONTROL The legislation won’t quickly bend the cost curve for medical care or insurance premiums — no one has yet found a surefire way to do that — but the reform will make an important start. Some experts believe it will lay the structural framework to mount the most serious effort ever made to control medical inflation. It will create competitive insurance exchanges that should help lower premiums for individuals and small businesses by offering an array of private policies and rates comparable to large group coverage.
Oh my! It really is just like Stalin and Tito! It’s just like Mao and Ho Chi Minh! Those were tenets of their health care bills, too! Why didn’t we listen when we could!?!
Of course, leave it to disgraced former-Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich to take everything another step further. From today’s Washington Post:
Former Republican House speaker Newt Gingrich said Obama and the Democrats will regret their decision to push for comprehensive reform. Calling the bill “the most radical social experiment . . . in modern times,” Gingrich said: “They will have destroyed their party much as Lyndon Johnson shattered the Democratic Party for 40 years” with the enactment of civil rights legislation in the 1960s.
Oh, right, LBJ’s downfall had nothing to do with Vietnam. Seems like an oversimplified and convenient reading of history, but we digress.
More importantly, sometimes enacting big change means taking big risks and incurring big losses. Going with Newt’s narrative for a moment, let’s accept that passing civil rights legislation “shattered the Democratic Party.” First of all, it shattered the party by making all the racists and Segregationists switch to the GOP. See, if you want to be the “Party of Lincoln,” you have to act like it. Lincoln spoke of inalienable and human rights, and, unless our memory is failing us, we’re pretty sure he took unpopular stands.
Our guess is he wouldn’t have yelled at people with Parkinson’s Disease and told them to get a job and earn their health care. We bet he wouldn’t have shouted epithets at black members of Congress had he had the opportunity to see such a miraculous thing, and we wager that, unlike men like Newt Gingrich, he’d even put country before party.