HCR in da House: Step Forward; Step Backward


Last night I watched the electronic vote tally for health care reform in the House.  The vote was hailed as historic, and indeed as I watched the vote tally for the bill stall at about 196 and then again stall at about 215, knowing that 218 votes were needed, I felt the anxiety and excitement that I felt election night ’08 as Obama neared the 270 electoral vote count. The House let out a cheer as the 218th vote appeared, and then a gasp as a single republican vote registered as the 219th or 220th vote for the Bill.

Speaker Pelosi let out a giggle as she announced the vote tally and then banged the gavel.  And so it was. The House voted for health reform by a 220-215 count.

And then with a whoosh, the giddiness of learning that another 36 million Americans indeed might received health insurance, disappeared as I heard that the House’s passage of health reform came with a caveat, the Stupak Amendment, which goes out of its way to be punitive against women and marginalize their rights to reproductive freedom. And so it is another night in the discomforting journey of progressive reform in the Obama era.  In order to win passage of health reform, Speaker Pelosi and the Obama Administration horse traded away reproductive rights, moving the country ever closer to the dark pre Roe V Wade days of back ally abortions, needless health risks and overt discrimination against 51% of the population.

I am most intrigued by the horse trading of rights for reform, and the fact that Know Nothing conservatives continue to lead the country down the Bush Administration’s back ally days of rights retrenchment while lambasting Democrats for restricting basic freedom in America.

I’m amused and scared for the future especially considering that 2009 marks the likely high water mark of democratic control in the house and senate, at least for this era.  What other rights concessions might be embedded in the next progressive reforms for climate change, immigration and regulating wall street?

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