>Washington, DC.- It is Sunday night. The Congress of the U.S. is busy, very busy. Congressmen debate a major health care overhaul bill that has been unsuccessfully tried for decades. After a few minutes, democrats say ‘yes’ to the bill, and unless something happens, it will be sent to the White House for the required President’s signature, likely this Tuesday.
Theodore Roosevelt was the first president who saw the importance of having a social safety system to protect the people—that was back at the beginning of the 20th century. Franklin D. Roosevelt tried a few years later, in 1935, when under his tenure Congress approved the Social Security system, but it was born uncompleted in terms of universal health care protection. Harry Truman followed FDR’s efforts, but corporate lobbies of doctors made his try fail. Later again, another president, Richard Nixon, submitted another bill to the House but then democrats did not consider it good enough. And in recent years, who does not remember the efforts of Bill Clinton and his wife Hillary to institute health care reform? Unfortunately, neither they nor all the other presidents were able to inititate significant legislation to extend the coverage to almost all American families, but Barack Obama.
It is true that the reform he is hopefully going to sign into law has nothing to do with the original idea of providing a public option, but it is the most important social reform in decades in the U.S. However, if a European would look at the whole process and, in particular, at the final version of this law, he would think that this is a mediocre proposal. Last night, I was listening to some of the Republicans’ points of view during the debate and I could not believe how much demagogy and hypocrisy they were using when they took the floor: “America is the land of freedom”, “We want less government like our founders and God wanted”, or “This law is going to break the whole system”. It is difficult to believe that a representative—an elected official!—from one or other corner of this country uses such a poor argument to defend a ‘no’. No matter where they come from, their demagogy has watered down the original bill, taking the public option out of the final text.
Even though this law is not going to solve all the problems the system has, at least it is going to send a message to all the American people: nothing is impossible, and if ‘we, the people,’ continue pushing for what is fair and necessary, not a single lobby is going to be able to stop us. Maybe this philosophy is inspiring the Progressive Chance Campaign Committee which is raising money to lobby for the public option. We will see if they succeed.