Jun 29, 2012

Paul Starr: Endorses Health Care Reform in 2010 as stunning historical achievement

A look back at January 2010.

Paul Starr came out vigorously for passing health care reform into law, narrowly held as constitutional by the Roberts court.

Starr's advocacy in the pages of The American Prospect marked an endorsement by perhaps the preeminent social historian of American medical care.

Starr is the author of The Social Transformation of American Medicine (Basic Books, 1982) that likely does not occupy a place on the book shelves of the Tea Party and assorted imbeciles like Senators Jim Demint and John McCain screaming about a "government take-over" of the American health care system. Today, we can add Scott Walker and other members of the Tea Party set.

Writes Starr in 2010:

[Health care reform] is a stunning historical achievement and the most important liberal reform since the 1960s. It may also be the most underappreciated social legislation in recent history. Never in my experience has such a big reform been treated as so small. Never have Democratic members of Congress who are putting their careers on the line for something they believe in been so vilified as sellouts by influential progressives. And never have those progressives been so grudging in their endorsement of landmark legislation or so willing to see it defeated.

How this happened is clear. Facing united Republican opposition, Democratic leaders made a series of concessions to win over centrists in their own caucus and to neutralize key interest groups. One point of contention -- the public option -- came to symbolize hopes on the left, and when that provision was unable to pass the 60-vote hurdle in the Senate, some progressives such as Howard Dean concluded that the entire bill had been gutted.

But that conclusion is wrong. The legislation [is a] major advance in two important respects. After a long period of rising inequality, it would boost the living standards of low-wage workers and their families and improve economic security for the middle class as well. And it would be the most ambitious effort in recent history to reorganize a major institution on a basis that agrees more closely with principles of justice and efficiency.

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