I asked this question, widely and often, when the folks who advise meekly accepting the piece-of-shit "Health Care Reform" measure currently percolating in the Congress, on the grounds that it is a "start," to which the Congress would return later to fix and repair and remedy its most egregiously shitty features:
It seems to me that it is impingent upon folks who counsel quietude in the face of this catastrophic clusterfuck because this is only the first step, and it will be revisited and improved, to provide relevant, contemporary examples of cases in which a truly shitty bill, being passed and signed, was later revisited and "improved--made more fair, more just--since the Bidness coup de etat in '80. One which SHOULD have been revisited and which at the time the Dims said they WOULD revisit, when they had the Congress back--but which wasn't, afaik--was the Bankruptcy Bill of '06, with which the Obamanable Sno-Job played all tricksy with his votes.Jno. Alter, on The Nation's Altercation blog reproduced the following elaboration on my theme, for which there does not seem to be an answer other than a simple "No, it has never happened." One "Charles Pierce" took up the cudgel in a recent Altercation:
SO, quite simply, since the onset of the Raygun era, please name ONE major piece of social legislation which passed Congress under the caveat/promise that Congress would return to it, and "improve" it, but which just HAD to be passed in the shitty condition in which it was passed and signed, to which the Congress then later returned to "improve" it for the people?
My new favorite futile argument for passing the current POS is that, in our politics, simply by passing the aforementioned POS, we forever will have established, banners aloft, the notion that healthcare is a right or, at least, an affirmative obligation of the national government. As a result, we will be freer to move forward as the years go by. This is a fine argument, provided that you were cryogenically frozen in 1958.Yeah. What he said (though I said it shorter).
Let me explain to everyone holding this particular view what is going to happen. The POS is going to pass. The Republicans are going to oppose it and run against it. The Democrats are going to look ridiculous for a year defending it, and the Democrats who most opposed it are going to look the most ridiculous, because it is going to be politically impossible for a Democrat to run against this bill. The prevailing media narrative will prevent it. Millions more American will have health insurance, but millions of Americans will be forced by law to fork over their money, during a grisly recession, to the greediest and least popular industry the country has seen since the railroads were running amok in the 1890's. These people will go broke a little more slowly, depending on how sick they get. The industry will jack up its rates until we all have to put in new attics. The subsidies will fail to keep up. And then the industry will lie about doing any of it, and the White House will send out a sternly worded letter. The industry will be stopped by the new "consumer protections" approximately as effectively as a butterfly stops a freight train.
By the end of 2009, these "reforms" will be thoroughly despised by a healthy portion of the electorate. The Republicans will then use the weaknesses of the reforms to assume control of the Congress, whereupon they will leave the mandates in place, gut the regulations, and laugh their way to the bank doing it. And that is what's going to happen.
Where does this optimism come from? Do the people pushing this argument honestly believe that, once this bill passes, there will be a general political consensus that we are all on the right track together and must continue to move forward to improve a system in which we all are now personally invested? Exactly what United States government have these people been watching for the past three decades, in which the notion of "government" as a political commonwealth has been spat upon and ignored? Fix it later? We can't bring ourselves to spend money to fix roads and bridges that are falling into rivers, let alone improve what has become the most contentious--and arguably, the most successfully lied about--issue of domestic policy of the past two decades.
This bill is going to suck a little until the rest of us aren't watching that closely, and then the people who hate the whole notion of reforming the "system" of health-care are going to work to make it suck a lot. Bob Cesca is a smart guy, but if he thinks we're going to add a public option before 2013, I wish he'd tell me where he buys his mushrooms. (So we "mobilize around" the idea. Who's even going to listen, let alone act on it? The White House? The Democrats? Please.) Ezra Klein has forgotten more about this debate than I'll ever know, but if he and Paul Starr believe this FANTASY, then they need to get out more.
How can anyone seriously look at the past 30 years of how we've governed ourselves and believe that anything will succeed simply because it has established a new entitlement? Hell, this president is already halfway to signing on to a SCHEME aimed at "adjusting" an enormously popular 70-year old entitlement program that's beloved by everyone except the bond merchants and financial-service grifters of whom this president is so unnaturally fond. If he's willing to do that, how firmly is he going to stand behind a brand new one, no matter how "historic" he can convince himself it is? I have no faith at all at this point.
The president is going to sign the POS because this is what he's wanted to do all along. Has there even been a rumor of his displeasure with what Joe Lieberman--his onetime mentor--pulled this week? I hadn't read any and, now, we read that the president thanked Weepin' JOE, while sending out his gunsels to attack Howard Dean on shows hosted by squinty former wingnut CONGRESSCRITTERS. It is impossible for any thinking human being now to believe anything except that this White House pretty much got the bill it wanted.
And, please, let us not hear any more about the Civil Rights Act of 1957, OK? There simply is not a consistent political continuum between that bill and, say, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. There is a general historical thread. The latter two laws came into being most directly because enough people were beaten bloody to sicken the nation, and because not a few people--including an incumbent president of the United States--were murdered in the streets in the interim.
And even if there were a parallel, which there isn't, this is such a radically different political culture as to render the comparison moot. Put the Voting Rights Act up to a vote today and it would get pecked to death by a thousand Beltway ducks and this president likely would spend several months finding a bipartisan compromise to render its toughest provisions impotent. Pass the POS. Don't pass the POS. But don't tell me we're all moving forward together through a historic moment. Y'all sound like idiots.