Here’s a great article by Jonathan Chait at The New Republic on why anyone to the left of John McCain should be pleased with the health care bill just passed by the Senate:

http://www.tnr.com/article/politics/just-noise?page=0,0

He summarizes the bill, shows that Republican talking points are based on nonsense, and criticizes progressives who are prepared to derail the plan because they didn’t get more.

The most promising aspects of the bill (besides just extending coverage) is a series of experiments on reducing health care costs.  Chait slightly covers this, but here’s a more thorough New Yorker article by Atul Gawande.  In short, there’s no single, proven magic bullet to lower costs; we have to try a bunch of ideas and see what works.  And that’s exactly what the Senate bill does.

Also worth reading: Andrew Sullivan on Obama’s first year.  His summary of the whole year also applies to health reform in particular:

Change of this magnitude is extremely hard. That it is also frustrating, inadequate, compromised, flawed, and beset with bribes and trade-offs does not, in my mind, undermine it. Obama told us it would be like this – and it is. And those who backed him last year would do better, to my mind, if they appreciated the difficulty of this task and the diligence and civility that Obama has displayed in executing it.

The messiness of letting Congress create the reform bill has unnerved supporters all year.  But by doing it this way, rather than at the White House as under Bill Clinton, Obama achieved what Clinton couldn’t: passage by both houses of Congress.  There’s just one more hurdle, the reconciliation process; but earlier hurdles were higher.

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