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.
There’s enormous disappointment among progressives about the emerging health care bill — and rightly so. That said, even as it stands it would take a big step toward greater security for Americans and greater social justice; it would also save many lives over the decade ahead. That’s why progressive health policy wonks — the people who have campaigned for health reform for years — are almost all in favor of voting for the thing.
By all means denounce Obama for his failed bipartisan gestures. By all means criticize the administration. But don’t take it out on the tens of millions of Americans who will have health insurance if this bill passes, but will be out of luck — and, in some cases, dead — if it doesn’t.
The hysteria gripping the progressive movement is out of control, capped by Keith Olbermann’s melodramatic comment last night. Get a grip, keep negotiating, and pass a bill.
Here’s another example of why progressives can’t govern. If they don’t get what they want, many of them get self-righteous and go home. It’s pitiful.
I’m watching Keith Olbermann, and he’ll soon be giving a “special comment” and it looks like he agrees with Howard Dean. Dean’s notion that we can just go to reconciliation or take this up again next year or in two years is the dumbest thing I’ve heard in years. Killing the bill is a political disaster for Democrats, and for President Obama.
It’s a good bill. Get it passed.
Olbermann is arguing that reconciliation is a real option. It’s not. It’s a last resort for a reason – you can’t get much done with it. It’s messy as hell and will hold up a host of other progressive priorities. If this deal blows up, of course I support reconciliation, and if the threat of it helps move the last Senator now, then I’m all for the bluster. But the best option is to pass the bill now.
Fortunately, congressmen like Anthony Weiner are not rushing to side with Dean. That’s been left to the blowhards.
UPDATE: Markos was on Olbermann and sounded much more balanced on this issue. Surprisingly, he didn’t join the “kill the bill” chorus and expressed some hope the bill would be improved through the conference. Of course he was pessimistic as hell, but at least he’s not being as unhelpful as Howard Dean.
UPDATE 2: This is Olbermann at his worst. He’s focusing on the name-calling coming from the right. He’s lost in the politics. In his mind the bill will “cost Obama the left.” Really? He’s completely lost his mind.
This is a pretty useless interview conducted by Keith Olbermann with Markos Moulitsas of the Daily Kos. I respect that both of them strongly favor the public option. I do as well. I also understand the point raised by Olbermann that many polls show broad public support for the public option. Yet the entire discussion is cast in terms of whether Obama is abandoning his progressive base by looking for a compromise on this issue, and Olbermann never mentions the real obstacle – the fact that many moderate Democrats in the Senate will not vote for a bill with a public option.
Olbermann has addressed this before, so he’s clearly aware of the political stumbling blocks, yet he makes no attempt to engage Markos in a constructive conversation about where we might be able to go with this. The only point here seemed to be a progressive high-five session similar to the right wing backslapping that we get on lame shows like Hannity.
I’m still a fan of Olbermann, but too often he slips into an “all-or-nothing” approach to issues that justify the caricatures of Olbermann now coming from the right. Unfortunately, it takes away from the good work he often does on his show.
Any notion that sweeping health care reform that gets rid of pre-existing conditions, stops insurance companies from dropping customers, and makes health care accessible to millions of Americans who can’t get it, but doesn’t include a public option that pleases everyone, is somehow a failure by the Obama administration is just ridiculous.
Olbermann should consider this simple fact. Progressives do NOT have a majority in either the House or the Senate. Public opinion is important, but in the end that alone does not get you the votes you need to pass a bill. All those moderate Democrats might be pissing you off now, but they help provide the majority that makes this health care discussion even possible. The Republicans might talk a good game about reform, but we all know they will do nothing to achieve it. They didn’t even try when they ran the place.
That said, progressives should push as hard as they can for a public option, but killing a bill that doesn’t meet all progressive demands is a terrible option.
Fortunately, I don’t think most progressive members of Congress will turn their backs on Americans without insurance and vote against reform when they are faced with a final bill. Arms will be twisted, deals will be made, and this thing will pass if it gets that far.