President Obama signed the reconciliation bill into law today. Reform came a little late (we aimed to wrap in 2009) and came up a little short (i bet on the public option being in the final bill and lost), but all in all, we done good.
On a totally unrelated note, I snagged this info off a friend’s Facebook post. Apparently, the new .05 bag tax has been working. Look at the numbers from DCist:
According to a press release from the office of bag fee champion Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6), a report from the D.C. Office of Tax and Revenue found that the city took in just shy of $150,000 in bag fees in January, all of which will go toward cleaning up the Anacostia River. That’s not a lot of money for what is a huge and multi-year endeavor, but what is notable is how much the use of plastic bags is reported to have decreased. The report accounts for the purchase of around 3 million plastic bags in January, a huge drop from the average 22.5 million bags District residents were estimated to have used per month prior to the fee’s implementation.
On its face, you could then claim that the five-cent fee pushed District residents to use 19 million fewer plastic bags in a single month. But keep in mind, this is just the first month of results, when there were certainly scofflaws who didn’t charge for bags. Still, if the math is even half right, that’s a massive change in consumer behavior — one spurred by nothing more than a nickel.
Coincidentally, I thought about this yesterday as I watched a woman walk across the street with her canvas grocery bag. I wondered if the bag tax was working, and if so, does it mean DCers are particularly eco-friendly or just extraordinarily cheap?
I got an email this morning with a very clever subject line:
We Got Next
It’s from The Climate Protection Action Fund’s Repower America campaign, and the email reads in part:
I’m a basketball fan — but this year, the drama of “March Madness” is a lot bigger than college basketball. This week’s health care victory shows that, on or off the court, the underdog can triumph.
To win on clean energy legislation, our movement will need to topple the goliaths of big oil and their starting lineup of high-paid lobbyists. We can’t match their resources, but we can beat them with passion and commitment. Clean energy has been on the sidelines long enough — it’s time to tell Congress that the next game in town is ours.
The climate change peeps have been patiently waiting their turn, and this is a good segue.
Towards the end of our campaign, we started to work in the broader implications of getting health care reform done, talking about how a win on health care set the stage for success in other arenas. RA is spot-on in its messaging. Bringing in the win as proof it can be done and using our anti-corporate model as a framework is absolutely the right way to go.
The Senate just passed the reconciliation bill. The final vote was 56 to 43. Democrats Ben Nelson (D-NE), Mark Pryor (D-AR), and Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) were “no”s. More on that later.
But as you may have heard, the bill now has to go back to the House one last time. There were two small changes having to do with the education provisions, not health care, but that was enough to require the extra step.
The House is expected to pass reconciliation – again – some time this evening. At that point, short of the President’s signature – again – we will be done.
And then I will exhale.
Meanwhile, I’m sure you’ve also been hearing about the threatening phone calls and various acts of violence now aimed at lawmakers who voted for reform. Well, we here at HCAN have decided to counter hate with health.
Senator Johnny Isakson – a Republican – has been sick since Monday. We just sent an email to our list asking people to wish the Senator well. You can click here to participate and send a “Get Well” fax to Isakson.
It’s not over until it’s over, and Democrats are now trying to get the House-passed reconciliation bill through the Senate without having to send it back to the House for a second vote. That means no amendments. None.
We had a press call this afternoon with Senator Harkin who said the following:
“This week, we accomplished what Presidents and Congresses have tried and failed to do since the Teddy Roosevelt administration: we defeated the insurance companies and the other special interests and we made history by passing comprehensive health care reform. But now we have to continue to educate the American people about all the good things in the new law and pass a measure that makes a good bill even better. It’s time for our message to be clear: a vote for any amendment is a vote against health reform and against reform of the student lending program. It’s time to hang tough and not give Congressional Republicans an opportunity to kill this bill.”
The full press release is here, and an mp3 recording of the press call is here.
180 groups agree with us and Senator Harkin, and they signed a letter saying so. Richard explains:
“What these 180 organizations representing a wide variety of constituencies are saying is this a good bill and a good first step. There will be improvements over time. Some will be debated this year, and some will come up five and even ten years from now. But this is a solid foundation, and once the reconciliation bill that passed the House passes the Senate, we can start showing the American people what it looks like when the public goes up against big insurance and corporate lobbyists and special interests and wins.”
UPDATE: Via TPM, here’s a collection of some of the ridiculous amendments the Republicans are introducing. The idea is to get Democrats on the record as voting against things like repealing “the government takeover of health care” (there isn’t one) or helping “the President keep his promise that Americans who like the health care coverage they have now can keep it” (not a risk) . Then come election season, Republicans make ads taking the Democrats’ votes out of context. Classy.
It was free pastry morning at Starbucks, and it’s free cone day at Ben & Jerry’s. (h/t ts)
The Republicans are giving a press conference right now spewing the same bogus claims about the health care bill that they’ve been clinging to all along. I love how they keep saying the American people don’t want this bill when they’re responsible for spreading the lies about the bill that make some American people think they don’t want it.
When the American people learn the truth about what’s in the bill, they like reform. And what they supposedly don’t like – the Republican description of the bill – doesn’t actually exist.
WASHINGTON – A beaming President Barack Obama on Tuesday signed a historic $938 billion health care overhaul that guarantees coverage for 32 million uninsured Americans and will touch nearly every citizen’s life, presiding over the biggest shift in U.S. domestic policy since the 1960s and capping a divisive, yearlong debate that could define the November elections.
As an aside for those who are wondering why I am not over the moon at the moment, Frates explains:
With health care reform now the law of the land, the Senate will begin debating a package of changes to the law at 2:15 p.m. today.
House Democrats, wary of voting for what they saw as a politically toxic Senate bill, insisted that the Senate bill be altered through additional legislation after it became law. Democrats are using the budget reconciliation process to make the changes because it bypasses the Republicans’ filibuster threat. But GOP leaders plan to try to derail the bill with procedural challenges.