Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Republicans for Reform

A quick rundown of the surprisingly numerous and influential Republican supporters of comprehensive, cost-saving health insurance reform. I'd assumed Republicans were a solid front on this because I was focusing on Senate Republicans: the party at large is not quite so partisan, or quite so monolithic. They're listed by name (with a link to their statement of support), position, and secret superpower.

Arnold Schwarzenegger, governor of California, can dual-wield shotguns;

Michael Bloomberg, mayor of New York City, poops money;

Shepard Smith, Fox News commentator, able to fit his whole fist in his mouth;

Bill Frist, former Senate majority leader and medical doctor, secretly repairs railway trestles;

Bill O' Reilly, Fox News host, world's third hardest blower;

Bob Dole, presidential candidate and former senator, can bench press a VW microbus.

Now, this is more complicated than it looks -- Bill Frist said straight out that he'd vote for the Baucus bill, then sort of walked back from it -- Shep Smith basically just made an impassioned argument for the public option on TV (he said "every vote against the public option is a vote for the insurance companies"), and then contradicted himself later, as is the nature of his show -- but Bloomberg and Schwarzenegger both cited the Obama administration's plan by name in official press releases, and Bill O'Reilly was quite explicit about favoring the public option in particular, and the reasons he cited -- that it will keep insurance costs down for working Americans -- were identical to those you'd find here.

Even admitting, though, that the views of these conservatives are varied and occasionally tentative, this is not what the picture looked like in August. The public option and other forms of wide-ranging health insurance reform are no longer poorly understood, fringe ideas -- they're something the nation has clearly grown more comfortable with, and more able to analyze in practical terms (what saves money? What insures the most people) rather than emotional terms (who is a Commie? Who is killing my grandmawmaw?).

Here's hoping that this collection of elected officials, elder statesmen, and political commentators finds some kind of voice among the Senate Republicans, and opens the way for a practical bill to be passed -- one with provisions to insure everyone and keep costs down.

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