How many people are we talking about? You might say 30 million, the number of additional people the Congressional Budget Office says will have health insurance thanks to Obamacare. But that vastly understates the true number of winners because millions of other Americans — including many who oppose the act — would have been at risk of being one of those 30 million. So add in every American who currently works for a company that offers good health insurance but is at risk of losing that job… every American who would have found health insurance unaffordable but will now receive crucial financial help; every American with a pre-existing condition…. [U]nless you belong to that tiny class of wealthy Americans who are insulated and isolated from the realities of most people’s lives, the winners from that Supreme Court decision are your friends, your relatives, the people you work with — and, very likely, you….
The Affordable Care Act, by contrast, is fully paid for…. So the law that the Supreme Court upheld is an act of human decency that is also fiscally responsible. It’s not perfect, by a long shot — it is, after all, originally a Republican plan… an awkward hybrid of public and private insurance that isn’t the way anyone would have designed a system from scratch. And there will be a long struggle to make it better….
Which brings us to the nature of the people who tried to kill health reform — and who will, of course, continue…. campaign against reform was its dishonesty. Remember “death panels”? Remember how reform’s opponents would, in the same breath, accuse Mr. Obama of promoting big government and denounce him for cutting Medicare?… [A]ll the old lies and probably a bunch of new ones will be rolled out again…. But what was and is really striking about the anti-reformers is their cruelty. It would be one thing if, at any point, they had offered any hint of an alternative proposal….
Let me add a final word on the Supreme Court.
Before the arguments began, the overwhelming consensus among legal experts who aren’t hard-core conservatives — and even among some who are — was that Obamacare was clearly constitutional…. [F]our justices dissented, and did so in extreme terms, proclaiming not just the much-disputed individual mandate but the whole act unconstitutional. Given prevailing legal opinion, it’s hard to see that position as anything but naked partisanship.
The point is that this isn’t over…. The cruelty and ruthlessness that made this court decision such a nail-biter aren’t going away.
But, for now, let’s celebrate. This was a big day, a victory for due process, decency and the American people.
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