This is a good bill. Not a great bill, but a good bill. Imagine telling a Democrat in the days after the 2004 election that the 2006 election would end Republican control of Congress, the 2008 election would return a Democrat to the White House, and by the 2010 election, Democrats would have passed a bill extending health-care coverage to 94 percent of Americans, securing trillions of dollars in subsidies for low-income Americans (the bill's $900 billion cost is calculated over 10 years, but the subsidies continue indefinitely into the future), and imposing a raft of new regulations on private insurers. It is, without doubt or competition, the single largest social policy advance since the Great Society.
[I]t represents a rejection of the view that the solution for all problems is to cut some taxes and remove some regulations. In that sense, what’s happening now, for all the disappointment it represents for progressives, is a historic moment.
But to repeat—despite flaws, I think this is an excellent piece of legislation. Among other things, it represents a return, after fifteen years, of the idea that congress should be trying to pass major legislation that tackles major national problems. And even beyond that, it restores an even longer-lost tradition of congress trying to pass major legislation on specifically progressive priorities.
Ben Nelson and Blanche Lincoln are probably willing to sign off on $900 billion in public subsidies so that poor and sick people can have better access to health care. Is there really no way we can make this work for us?