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On “Special Deals”

I don’t care where you are on the health care bill, you need to take sight of this.

The Republican Party, as part of their long-term project to delegitimize normal government functions and processes, has now defined “special deal” as anything which affects the residents of a state or region disproportionately. Apparently every piece of legislation now must apply to every living thing in America equally.

In this completely misguided AP story written, no doubt, by conservative operatives, they label offering Medicare coverage to the residents of Libby, Montana as a “special deal.” This is absolutely disgusting.

Preserves language won by Baucus permitting many of the 2,900 residents of Libby, Mont., to qualify for Medicare benefits. Some of them have asbestos-related diseases from a now-shuttered mine.

Seriously, fuck you, AP. The residents of Libby were sickened by a vermiculite mine operated by W.R. Grace, exposing the entire city to asbestos poisoning and leading to at least 200 confirmed deaths. It is the very least that this country can do for people poisoned by a corporate mining operation, through no fault of their own, to ensure their medical care. America has done this in similar situations for decades. It’s the very bedrock underlying the social safety net.

That’s not a “special deal.” That’s why we have a government, to promote the general welfare of its citizens.

If you don’t like it, go live in Libby, Montana, and don’t come running to me about that cough and the fact that you can’t expand your lungs so much anymore. In fact, I hope the AP puts a new bureau right there in Libby, maybe in the abandoned vermiculite mine, since it’s so “special” to be a resident of that town these days.

Keep in mind that we’ve never had so much access to the behind-the-scenes wheeling and dealing of politics that we’ve had in this debate. Some of it has been undoubtedly ugly. But in their quest to paralyze government, to disallow anything from happening lest politicians be blamed for “special deals,” Republicans have massively overreached. If a politician trying to get medical care for people in Libby who were poisoned is an act of corruption and a “special deal,” then, bravo for special deals.

David Dayen

David Dayen