Digging in their heels . . .

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington, June 29, 2011. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque (UNITED STATES – Tags: POLITICS)

It looks like we’re heading for an ugly end game for the debt ceiling confrontation. Ezra Klein explains:

The best advice I’ve gotten for assessing the debt-ceiling negotiations was to “watch for the day when the White House goes public.” As long as the Obama administration was refusing to attack Republicans publicly, my source said, they believed they could cut a deal. And that held true. They were quiet when the negotiations were going on. They were restrained after Eric Cantor and Jon Kyl walked out last week. Press Secretary Jay Carney simply said, “We are confident that we can continue to seek common ground and that we will achieve a balanced approach to deficit reduction.” But today they went public. The negotiations have failed.

“The primary goal of President Obama’s presser, which just wrapped up, was obvious,” writes Greg Sargent. “He was clearly out to pick a major public fight with Republicans over tax cuts for the rich.” That’s exactly right. But he didn’t want this fight. He wanted a deal. And he wasn’t able to get one that the White House considered even minimally acceptable. After putting more than $2 trillion of spending cuts on the table, they weren’t even able to get $400 billion — about a sixth of the total — in tax increases.

Klein goes on to explain that things will likely get ugly. Both sides are digging in their heals, and only a crisis or market meltdown will get them to move. Perhaps something else will change the dynamic, like the proposal coming from Kent Conrad and the Senate Democrats, but that seems unlikely.

As Klein explained, Obama has been quiet because he was hoping for a deal. Now that the Republicans want a fight, they are going to get one. Nobody likes taxes, but the notion that we can’t have any new revenues, including closing corporate tax breaks, when we’re facing a $15 trillion debt is totally absurd. The polls are in Obama’s favor when it comes to increasing taxes on the wealthy.

That said, the GOP is currently run by the extremists in the Tea Party who won’t compromise on anything. It’s probably going to get ugly . . .

Ezra Klein sums up why liberals should love this bill, even with its deficiencies

He also explains why conservatives naturally hate it. It will, over time, lead to more government as the notion of universal coverage becomes expected by Americans.

Ezra Klein has made a name for himself during this health care debate. He’s one of the most sensible writers out there, and he’s great with the details and the big picture.

Here’s the latest big picture argument as to why liberals should move the bill forward.

I still believe health care will look more similar than different when the day is done. A good bill will pass, if not a sufficient one. A sum of money will be appropriated, and a basic infrastructure constructed that will be, in the long-run, understood as a tremendous, even unlikely, political victory. The next steps will be easier, because $80 billion is easier to find than $900 billion, and because the argument over whether America has a universal health-care system and whether government provides some of the funding and scaffolding will be over. The money will be there. The scaffolding, too. The universal structure, built around the mandate and the exchanges and the subsidies, will be firmly in place.

At this point, an odd dynamic has developed, in which most all of the right, and some on the left, believe they’d be better served by the defeat of this bill. It is unlikely that they are both correct. But the right has had substantially more experience than the left opposing government initiatives before they can take root and grow into popular entitlements.

Look at the development of Medicare and Social Security, of Medicaid and S-CHIP, the Swedish and Canadian health-care systems, public education. Social Security was designed to exclude African Americans. Medicare didn’t cover prescription drugs. Medicaid was mainly for pregnant women and their young children. Canada’s system was limited to a single province. There was no University of California at Los Angeles.

It’s difficult to conclude that these things slip backward rather than marching forward. The $900 billion for people who need help, the regulations on insurers and the exchanges that will force them to compete, the structure that will make health care nearly universal and the trends that suggest more people — and more politically powerful people — will be entering the new system as employer-based health care erodes — it all makes this look even more like the sort of program that will take root and be made better, as opposed to the sort of common opportunity people should feel comfortable rejecting. It doesn’t feel like that now. But then, it rarely does.

Every liberal should read this. There’s a reason the Republicans are abusing every stall tactic they can muster in the Senate to delay this bill. They want to kill it all costs. It will lead to everything they despise, and everything liberals want. The details now really don’t matter. Once this is set in motion, they’ll never be able to turn back the clock.

In that context, it’s stunning to hear people like Howard Dean and Keith Olbermann play into the GOP’s hands by arguing that the bill should be scrapped. In one sense, as Kos pointed out, it’s healthy to have a real debate on the left. But Dean and Olbermann have taken it too far, risking everything.

Ezra Klein blasts Howard Dean and rebuts one of his objections

Ezra Klein has it right – Howard Dean has become a “hostage-taker” in the process, threatening to blow everything up on one or two points. How does this make Dean any different from Joe Lieberman?

Klein also goes on to explain the prudent purchasers language in the bill and why it should be sufficient. As Dean acknowledged, this was John Kerry’s issue, and Kerry is very happy with the language.

The need for individual mandates

Some like Keith Olbermann and Kos have suggested that the health care bill should be opposed unless the individual mandate is removed.

Ezra Klein explains why the mandates are necessary.

The status of the health care debate

Ezra Klein has an excellent summary of the health care debate and where it currently stands. He does a great job of separating the actual policy debates going on in Congress from some of the silly issues being argued by the public.

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