I’d be remiss if I didn’t at least breathe a few words about America finally joining the community of nations that do more than pretend to give a shit about effective healthcare, but my understanding of the matters involved has, like the economy, always been imperfect (a post on that matter is also in the works). But something must be said nonetheless, and that something is this: you can think whatever you want about the bill, from the process that created it (horrifying and convoluted), to the democrats’ attempts to sell it (amateurish), whether you’re on the right and think it’s a massive expansion of government power (not really), or on the left and think it doesn’t go too far enough (still better than nothing).  But whatever you do think, several things are true:

1: 32 million more people have insurance coverage, meaning they can afford to get treatment BEFORE it becomes bad enough to require emergency care and costing more for everyone.

2: Insurers can’t deny coverage for preexisting conditions, granting access to healthcare for thousands who would otherwise be on their own.

3: Those who are concerned about federal funds going to (indirectly) fund abortions can take heart in that the effort to win the heart vote of ardent pro-life democrat Bart Stupak consisted of Obama issuing an executive order specifically preventing such a thing. To those worried that such a thing holds less weight than it would if it were included the law, the GOP is already out to disprove that theory.

4: Many of the bill’s more hideous deals, such as the infamous Cornhusker Kickback that basically gave Nebraska free healthcare in exchange for Senator Ben Nelson’s vote, were stripped out in reconciliation.

More benefits are provided in list form over at Crooks and Liars, but the bill does come with one singificant caveat: while it does have a great up front cost, one of the main benefits is that it’s been designed to actually reduce the deficit to the tune of a trillion dollars over 20 years. The caveat, as the CNN article explains, is that this hinges on congress being strict in applying promised tax increases at the required intervals, and as I’ve said before Congress is only too willing to sacrifice long-term planning in the name of expediency. This passage is by itself a rare (and encouraging) bucking of that trend, but it’s only meant as a first step on a longer path, and if congress deviates from that path many of the bill big pluses will evaporate.

In the meantime, the GOP has promised to ride to victory on the backs of the vote in November, but much analysis is emerging from the newscloud casting various aspersions on that prediction. I could go into that right now but there’s enough material there for the subject to command another blarg entry later this week. In the meantime suffice to say there’s still better than 6 months between us and november and the electoral landscape is hardly immutable. Let us not forget how quickly McCain went from sacrificial lamb, to serious challenger, and back again 18 short months ago. In the meantime, the Great Game of the Republic continues.