Over at Drums and Whistles, Karoli is walking through the history of big pieces of social safety net legislation. The upshot? the more things change, the more they stay the same.
She starts with the Social Security fight, moves on to the expansion of Social Security to women, children, and the disabled, then tackles the Medicare battle, and then applies the Medicare lessons to today.
You should read all four, but I’m going to highlight a bit of her last post, which addresses progressive opposition to the current health care bill facing Congress:
When Dennis Kucinich is villified for seeing and accepting political reality; when those of us who have studied the progress of legislation like this are called cowards and in-name Democrats, the larger lesson is lost. Without breaking the first barrier, there is no prospect for reaching the goal.
Alan Grayson has begun Phase II of the reform process, by introducing a bill on the House floor permitting anyone to opt into Medicare (and pay for it). He has further qualified his proposal as an “unsubsidized option”, so that anyone choosing this option will not be eligible for the subsidies given to those buying private insurance.
What progressives need to understand is this: If the current legislation fails, there is no prospect or pathway toward their larger goal. If this bill passes, we’ve established the right to health care. A door opens. Alan Grayson has extended an invitation for Congress to take the next step. Just as in 1962, this will coincide with midterm elections. Democrats, Liberals, progressives, socialists, and all others on the left need to look at how Medicare progressed. Let’s take out the national tragedy part and figure out how, after this bill passes, public support and energy can focus to elect representatives who will stand with him and agree to his proposal.
Or, to quote Lao-tzu, a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
Pass the damned bill.