Monday, 22 March 2010

A historic day for the Americans

Last night the US House of Representatives passed the healthcare reform that will ensures health insurance coverage for 95 % of the population. The bill is far from perfect and has been considerably watered out in the process, but yet it is arguably the most important social reform in the USA since President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
The healthcare reform bill was passed by 219 votes to 212, not a single Republican voting in its favour and 34 Democrats voting against the party line. The passing of the bill brings the USA decisively in the direction of a welfare state and means that President Obama has accomplished what presidents back to Theodore Roosevelt more than a century ago did not succeed in doing.
Healthcare reform is the cornerstone of the change Barack Obama promised in his presidential campaign, but has met with fierce opposition and hysterical accusations of communism from the nut-case right and the Republican party, which has traditionally opposed most important social reforms in the history of the USA.
After the havoc wreaked on the country and the world during the dark years of the Bush regime, one may perhaps be allowed to nurture a hope that the American voters will soon consign this destructive party to the dustheap of history.


  1. Glad you Europeans like it -- you pay for it! It's a scandalous, expensive, invasive, restrictive package of nonsense that will be overturned soon. Several of the states are already planning to file suits reversing it, as it's unconstitutional. Obama and his colleagues who supported it will be out on the street.

    The United States is not a welfare state and not a monarchy. The role of government is to enable people to have freedom to do their own thing, not to take care of anyone.

  2. Please note that comments should be signed in some ways - anonymous comments are of little interest. What strikes me about certain Americans is how they decry responsible government while shouting for freedom and how far one is willing to go work against one's own best. This is probably the best thing that has happened to your people in decades, yet the President is called a communist and worse things. And monarchy or republic has absolutely nothing to do with this.

  3. Sir,

    I am sure we can have a lengthy discussion about the pros and cons of and principles connected to universal health care.

    What is particularly pertinent, however, for the American version at this time is the affordability of the affair. The U.S. Government is deep in debt. It has military expenditures beyond most -- if not all -- governments that already provide universal health care. I'm afraid this reform -- if implemented -- will drive the U.S. closer to a real economic crisis.

  4. Yes, it will certainly be expensive, even very expensive. Yet this is something so important that it simply has to be done and may therefore deeply regret that it had to come at a time when the country's economy is so weakened (largerly thanks to the irresponsibility of the previous regime). But it is interesting to note that few of those fiercly opposed to this reform mention the financial factor you bring up, which is a serious and real concern. I feel confident that many of those now opposed to the reform in a few years' time will come to realise its benefits.

  5. Well, Trond. I don't know if you are Swedish, but the welfare state has been disastrous for the Swedish economy and state budget. It's a failure, and only creates human beings unable to stand up for themselves and think autonomously. When you give the state so many attributions over your life, you end being a semi-slave of it, even in a democracy. I think that this is an historical day for the USA. A day when the country decided to turn Socialist. Hopefully Republicans will take power again in a not so distant future (8 years if Obama is reelected). Senator McCain was such a good candidate (far better prepared than Bush or Obama for the presidency) but the Americans lost a great opportunity. In some decades, they will learn the great mistake they've made.


  6. Yet this is something so important that it simply has to be done[...]

    Too big to fail?

    But it is interesting to note that few of those fiercly opposed to this reform mention the financial factor you bring up[...]

    There are in fact some. Probably, an important reason that so many don't bring this up is that they are responsible for supporting Republican spending.

    Regrettably, so many who rhetorically support limited, small government don't when it comes to practical politics run by Republican administrations.

  7. Jorge - I am not Swedish and the welfare state has certainly not been a disaster for Sweden. Until today the USA has been alone among industrialised countries not to provide health care for all its citizens. When this healthcare reform comes into effect, it means the people of the USA no longer risk losing their homes or their lives if they fall ill. That this has been the case for so long is simply a disgrace.

    I disagree completely that John McCain not being elected president was a lost opportunity. By his personal defects, primarily his irresponsibility, and his lack of visions for his country he was unsuited to lead it. This unsuitability he has demonstrated again in recent days.

    Mr Balterzen - you are of course right that some do, but sensible arguments have to a large extent been missing in the debate in the USA. Rather than presenting relevant and sensible arguments, many of the most vocal opponents have shouted hysteric accusations of communism and violation of the constitution. This might of course be seen as a result of the polarisation of American politics, but also as signs of the deterioration of political culture in that country. And yes, the reform will certainly be expensive, but it will also reduce the budget deficit which the careless previous administration inflicted on the country.

  8. Trond,
    As an American who is relieved that this bill passed, thank you for your support!

    It was messy and ugly, and yes it will be very expensive, but what would be the price of our moral failing to take care of the least and weakest among us.

    Great blog!

  9. You do have a point, Mr. Isaksen, about the polarization in American politics.

    There may be some shouting. What I find disturbing, are all those who claim Obama's policies to be socialist and unconstitutional, whilst having turned a blind eye to the same from Republican administrations. Also, claims that this reform is what ends America as we know her, whereas every other preceding reforming did not, is preposterous. Of course, those who are consistent do not deserve to be lumped with the party hacks.

    It must of course be added that the question of constitutionality is a question of what the federal government can do. It does not imply that state governments cannot do the same.

    It is also not true, as many Norwegians seem to believe (I am not saying our host is one of them, he seems as a very knowledgeable man), that there is not public health care in those United States. You have both Medicaid and Medicare already, and some states have enacted programs.

    I think Peter Schiff says it well.

  10. Yes, I can agree with what you write here. I also find claims such as that made by Jorge above that this was the day the USA decided to turn socialist quite embarrasing on behalf of those making them, as it reveals a lack of knowledge about political ideology. One need not know much about socialism to see that Barack Obama is not even close to being one, and the new healthcare system is also quite different from those adopted by "socialist countries" like the Scandinavians. And yes, I am aware of the existence of Medicaid and Medicare, but those programmes are not satisfactory and I therefore consider the time more than ripe for their being replaced by something better.


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