Tuesday, March 23, 2010

HCR Passed

Batman: I’m proud of our Congress today. I’m a democrat, and I’ve never really seen a problem saying so in public. I give a lot of money to democratic candidates, I’m fairly active in the party. So in that regard I’m not Clark. But I didn’t have much of a dog in the healthcare fight.

I abandoned private insurance for my workers a long time ago; the administrative fees insurers charged was making the already steep curve of healthcare less and less affordable, and Wayne Enterprises is a large enough company that we were able to create our own insurance pool. And wherever possible, we don’t hire outside contractors; anyone we can have in-house we do. So I really had no stake in healthcare reform.

Then Clark got sick. He never used his health insurance, but within a week of his diagnosis with cancer, the Planet’s insurance company tried to cancel his plan. Perry White, the Planet’s EIC, called them up and told them Clark Kent’s policy staid, or they were going to lose the entire Planet account. That’s just the kind of guy Perry is. A few days later and the story had worked its way up to me; I haven’t owned the Planet very long- a few years- I bought it out from under Lex Luthor when he was on one of his tirades. I personally called the insurance company and cancelled the Planet account, and brought them into the Wayne insurance pool.

But the damage was done. Clark had seen the nasty side of the insurance industry. Not that there was much the insurance could have done for him. The vast majority of his treatment, which obviously wasn’t successful, took place in either S.T.A.R. facilities or WayneTech.

As the year of healthcare reform wore on, Clark became more and more animated. He wanted to help people, and he realized that this one bill could help more people than he could in the time he had left. It’s the first time I’ve seen him drag politics into the League meetings, and he took more than one of our junior members to task for repeating demonstrably false claims about the bill. It was one of the few areas where I think Clark was unaware of his own strength, but I remember he cornered Hawkman for basically quoting Sarah Palin about death panels. And Clark, when he got upset, he had this way of getting breathy, and suddenly the air all around you was warm and moist and you would immediately start to sweat, and he boomed “There are NO death panels.” It was because he could hold a thousand times as much air in his lungs than a normal human being, and did, without thinking about it. And Hawkman would have dropped his mace if it hadn’t been on a leather strap around his wrist.

But I’m beginning to stray from the point. I wasn’t particularly animated about healthcare reform, because I knew that single payer and a public option were a pipe dream, even with a pseudo-supermajority in the Senate. But I am absolutely a democrat, so I supported the President and the Congress on those grounds.

But a few months ago, the prognosis was grim; Scott Brown’s election had a lot of people adopting defeatist language, and precedent said the democrats were going to fold like a cheap suit.

But because of Clark I started paying more attention to it. I’ve always been a proponent of insurance reform, and have on more than one occasion thought about starting an insurance company within WE- one that operated on a non-profit basis. But beyond the fact that such an organization usually has selection bias issues which make it tougher to realize the cost savings necessary to cut premiums accordingly, I honestly believed that the only real solution was for the government to step in and either regulate intensely or nationalize it. But because of Clark, healthcare reform became something I paid attention to; I even read Jonathan Cohn’s TNR blog religiously. Every rise or dip in the polls

And almost surprisingly, the democrats didn’t fail. Over the years I’ve grown accustomed to the democrats being on the right side of an issue, but lacking the courage of their convictions to do a damned bit about it. Obama’s gambit, allowing Republicans to show just how mean and ugly and petty they could be, without really opposing them, worked out, and Nancy Pelosi, who I think was the real hero behind healthcare reform, was able to deliver the votes in the house. The democrats didn’t fail. For the first time in a while, I’m actually proud of my party.

Now, we should discuss logistics, since this is likely coming out before the first segment of our interview, because while we taped that ages ago, it turns out that, in a world without its Superman, and equally in a continually struggling economy, there was a lot that needed my attention. And

DI: Judging by the uncomfortable silence and piercing glare, I take it that’s my cue- but I’ve been dealing with some personal shenanigans, some of which have to do with being an often freelance writer whose main printed magazine folded in part because of the lousy economy. So the delay was mutual- though much more my fault than Mr. Wayne’s.

B: You don’t have to call me “mister;” Bruce works just fine.

DI: Actually, your eyes kind of scare me. I think “mister” is good for now. But we are going to be starting up the ongoing interview with Mr. Wayne soon, just as soon as a few things stabilize.

B: Though it was never meant to be a weekly occurrence anyway. Billionaire industrialist, adventurer- I want to be as open and accessible as possible, but sometimes other demands in my life have to take precedence. Still, I’m looking forward to it.

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