Health Care, the Public, Abortion, and Money:
Here's a sickening number for the day: the budget for one year of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, part of the 2010 Defense Appropriations bill that'll probably be passed by the Senate today, is $128.2 billion. The cost of the most generous, most public optiony of the health care bills currently under consideration in the Congress is roughly $110 billion a year. That's deduced through simple math: $1.1 trillion divided by 10 years. It is, by the way, a lot less scary of a number than the ten-year one, and you gotta wonder why supporters don't use it. But, still, we're not going to blink at spending more on wars that are, at best, the indulgences of a fallen empire left over from its days of bloated arrogance.
Seriously, at this point, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have become that gym membership you signed up for but never use, yet you can't get out of the contract, so you just keep paying the hundred bucks a month, waiting for it to go away. Except for that goddamn automatic renewal clause you didn't see.
This is not about the wars (although, you know, fuck the generals). And it's not totally about cost comparison (although the seeming difference in cost between the House bills and the Baucus bill is about $15 billion a year, the cost of a little over a month of the wars - again, division makes a difference in perspective). No, instead this is about the appalling way in which we're still debating aspects of health care reform.
There's plain facts in this nation. One of those is that abortion remains legal, despite the efforts of some states to regulate it to near-elimination, despite the efforts of individuals to intimidate or kill those involved in the procedure, despite the mewls of the religious that an invisible sky wizard is offended by it. It is still legal.
Yet, in this health care debate, it's not enough for anti-choice nutzoids that the federal government is banned from directly funding abortions. It's not enough that if any public option happens, abortions cannot be paid for by it. No, now anti-choicers want any insurance plan that is part of an "exchange" from which people can choose cannot have abortion coverage because people buying into those plans may be getting subsidies from the government to do so. Follow the bouncing ball to madness here: pro-choicers have already done financial contortions to please the anti-choicers, making it so any subsidies would not actually be used for abortions. But, see, that ain't good enough because, in the even more contorted logic of the conservative crazeratti, any money that's paid to insurers from the government frees up funds to pay for abortion.
Again, this is over a legal medical procedure that simply displeases a segment of the population. It's merely a back door way to outlaw abortions through a thousand cuts, it's another conservative assault on women, it's another hypocrisy in that the only time a business is regulated is to conform to some outdated notions of morality because it gets the yahoos out to vote. It is, ultimately, an argument over a pittance, and it's also another bullshit way to possibly derail reform.
How about this: ask how many people would rather that Iraq/Afghanistan budget go for health insurance for Americans. Then we're talking real money.
Today the fight in the Senate is over the public option. The abortion debate is coming. The landscape is strewn with mines set by the right. The only question is if Democrats are going to try to tiptoe around them or just bulldoze the shit out of them.