Krugman won’t side with the Bill Killers

Paul Krugman is asking progressives to take a deep breath.

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.
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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.

Jay Rockefeller rips Howard Dean

Jay Rockefeller slammed Howard Dean for his ridiculous call to kill the health care bill just because the public option is gone.

“It’s nonsense. And it’s irresponsible. And coming from him as a physician, it’s stunning. And he’s wrong. Does that answer your question?” Rockefeller responded. He ticked off the good things that were still in the health care legislation. “This’ll be good for people. Am I angry that the public option appears to have been dropped? Of course I’m angry about that,” he said. “I proposed the original bill on the floor that was the tough one. … Was I for the Medicare buy-in? Of course I was. … So what do I do? Do I take my football and run home and sulk and complain?”

Mitchell cut in, but Rockefeller wasn’t done. “I’m a grownup, you’re a grownup,” he added. “We’ve been around this business for a long time. And you never get everything you want. You don’t sulk about it. You try to keep improving the bill.”

Good for him!

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Nate Silver explains support for health care bill

Unlike other progressives who are taking their football and going home, Nate Silver explains why progressives are batshit crazy to vote against the Senate health care bill, even after the public option has been stripped from the bill. The posts looks closely at the economics and how it will affect a typical American family, and Nate is convinced that “for any ‘progressive’ who is concerned about the inequality of wealth, income and opportunity in America, this bill would be an absolutely monumental achievement.”

Now we know why Howard Dean was not invited to join the Obama administration


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It’s because his judgment stinks. His latest call to “kill the bill” is a ridiculous and irresponsible response to the latest round of negotiations in the health care bill. I understand his disappointment in the Lieberman fiasco, but the bill in it’s current form is a good bill. 31 million people will not have access to health insurance, with many of them getting generous subsidies from the government. The bill also has numerous cost controls that will change the way we pay for health care over time.

Progressives made a strong push for the public option. I understand their anger. I agree that they should encourage primary challenges to lawmakers who oppose the public option. But killing the bill is going too far.

Ignoring the obvious

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.

Negotiations get tough on health care

Can Harry Reid get health care through the Senate? it will be a very tough battle, as Roll Call points out in this excellent article summarizing the current state of the negotiations. Reid seems to be feeling the pressure from the liberals in his caucus, as he’s instructed Finance Chairman Max Baucus to stop trying to please Republicans.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Tuesday strongly urged Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) to drop a proposal to tax health benefits and stop chasing Republican votes on a massive health care reform bill.

Reid, whose leadership is considered crucial if President Barack Obama is to deliver on his promise of enacting health care reform this year, offered the directive to Baucus through an intermediary after consulting with Senate Democratic leaders during Tuesday morning’s regularly scheduled leadership meeting. Baucus met with Finance ranking member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) on Tuesday afternoon to relay the information.

According to Democratic sources, Reid told Baucus that taxing health benefits and failing to include a strong government-run insurance option of some sort in his bill would cost 10 to 15 Democratic votes; Reid told Baucus that several in the Conference had serious concerns and that it wasn’t worth securing the support of Grassley and at best a few additional Republicans.

By Tuesday afternoon, the Finance Committee began looking at ways other than taxing health benefits to deliver a health care overhaul that costs less than $1 trillion and is deficit-neutral, as Baucus wants. Baucus’ office declined to comment, but Senate Budget Chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), a key member of Finance, confirmed as much late Tuesday.

“I would say there’s a search for alternatives,” Conrad told reporters. “There’s been feedback. There’s been additional questions in terms of getting the votes and public support.”

I’m surprised to hear Reid taking such a tough stand, but Democrats are fed up with the bi-partisan approach. Taxing benefits is a bad idea, and they need to look for other ways to fund this. I’m in favor of taxing soda and other crap that big companies sell and market to kids. Would it kill us to pay a little more for pop?

Naturally, any push by the Democrats to get this done with a public option and without the support of Republicans will also make it more difficult for moderate Democrats to support the bill, but it was encouraging to hear Ben Nelson praise Reid’s efforts. Nelson is always a tough vote.

“Harry is the leader, and people certainly pay attention to Harry’s advice and leadership,” Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) said. “I’m sure he’s going to find a way to sell what needs to be done. … He’s very good at that, and I hope he’s able to do it.”

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