April 6, 2010

Both sides, now

I've been thinking about the health-care reform bill (hey, I may live Over Here, but I'm still American), and I've got really conflicted feelings about it. On the one hand, insurance-industry reform, enforced by regulators with real power, will save so much pain, so much money, so many lives. On the other hand, a single-payer public-option system could be much easier for the patients to navigate, less expensive when people have preventative care instead of problems compounded by neglect - but that also has to be run by people who believe it can work, and it will be terrible the minute someone with a "government small enough you could drown it in a bathtub" philosophy is in charge.

On the other other hand, watching the party I vote for get totally played by one person who apparently never read the platform, listening to the serious and
thoughtful discussions about whether their female constituents' rights matter, do their votes really count anyway, why are they so wrapped up in irrelevant women's issues - I'm disgusted that they are the best I can realistically do for representatives in government.

I was happy to hear that a change to the student-loan structure was also part of the health-care reform bill; though the two don't directly connect in my mind, I've seen enough multi-part bills to know that sometimes this is how it gets done. Making federal student loans direct loans from the government, and putting the interest on them (money that had been no-risk profit for banks) into the Pell grant program sound like a great idea to me. I would like it even better if I knew that the amount of grant and loan money available to students was at least as much as it had been before the previous President started de-funding the programs. I heard an interesting spin on the combination of the two bills on an episode of Rachel Maddow from last week: a member of Congress said that health-care costs and college costs are things that middle-class people really worry about, and he thought it made good sense to address them both at the same time. I think he's got a point, though my quick agreement with him has me feeling a little melancholy. Mostly I'm reminded of a line of Joni Mitchell's, and it's making me feel old:

Caught in the middle, Carol, we're middle class, we're middle-aged...

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