If I had told you five years ago we would avert depression, rescue Detroit, stabilize the housing market, double the Dow, achieve energy independence, end two wars, avoid two others, kill bin Laden, destroy Syria’s chemical weapons, degrade Iran’s nuclear capability, achieve LGBT equality, sell Plan B over the counter, triple the female representation on the Supreme Court, provide universally affordable health insurance, double the energy efficiency of our cars, grow private sector employment 44 straight months, slash the deficit, bring National Debt growth back into line with GDP growth, and sit with a majority in Congress ready to pass Comprehensive Immigration Reform . . .
. . . you might well have said, “Dream on.”
Yet of course, with some important caveats, that’s exactly what we’ve done.
Sure, the fuel efficiency of our cars hasn’t doubled yet. But it’s headed that way.
Sure, we are only in the early stages of destroying Syria’s weapons and degrading Iran’s. But it’s begun.
Sure, the health insurance roll-out makes news solely for its problems, gleefully exaggerated and exacerbated by its critics. But the problems will be solved — and apply to vastly fewer people than do the benefits. Most will be paying the same as or less than they otherwise would have, often for better coverage; all will be assured availability of affordable coverage regardless of whatever health problems they have now or might develop. (These added benefits aren’t magic; they’re paid for in meaningful part by higher tax rates on investment income — albeit not as high as those rates were when Ronald Reagan left office.)
Sure, we haven’t entirely achieved LGBT equality. But the last major piece of the federal legislative puzzle – the Employment Non-Discrimination Act – is now favored by a wide majority of the public, has been passed by a wide majority in the Senate, and would be signed into law tomorrow if only the House Republicans would allow it to come up for a vote.
Same with comprehensive immigration reform: favored by a wide majority of the public and the Senate, it would be signed into law tomorrow if only the House Republicans would allow it to come up for a vote.
So as the year winds down and we begin to look forward to 2014 and beyond, please take heart: despite unprecedented obstruction, we’ve made enormous progress. And if we should happen to elect a Democratic Congress in 2014 — which would mean the House could actually vote on things that a majority of its members favor — we could make a lot more.
Still composing China thoughts. Have you read about the reforms of the Third Plenum?