I don’t mean to poach on Jonathan Cohn’s turf, or Jonathan Chait’s either. For all the hysteria of the Republicans and the shady deals of the majority party, the passage of universal health care is a triumph of the democratic idea and of the democratic ideal. “Choose equality and flee greed,” Matthew Arnold urged the nineteenth-century British. Still, from the vantage point of class stratification, England remains a rigidly layered society. But everyone in the country is entitled to medical care, maybe not great medical care but medical care nonetheless.
This was never the case in America, although Medicare and Medicaid deeply expanded the sphere of those included in the circles of treatment. The truth is, however, that increasingly doctors are excluding themselves from participation in these programs simply because they don’t pay enough and, given the administration’s promise of cutting waste and inefficiency--the usual governmental claptrap--reimbursements are likely to fall.
So the United States has crossed the line that separated it from other advanced liberal societies. The president is to be complimented for his obsessiveness. This, however, is only the beginning of the process. It would have been far better if we had been working through national health insurance during the last two decades instead of having to start when the national debt is the highest it has ever been (and going higher, starkly higher and higher).
P.S. I believe that the Republican expectation that the demos will rebel against the program is farfetched, if not simply wrong. The scare tactics of the GOP will prove to have been just scare tactics, a scarecrow that does not bite.