The Long-Term Value of Insisting The Health Bill Is Not Good Enough

by: David Sirota

Sun Dec 20, 2009 at 14:30

(With such a heated discussion happening about whether to demand more in the health care bill, I wanted to re-promote this diary that makes the simple point: Whether you think the Senate bill should have been passed or not, there is a strategic value in having some voices pushing for more. - D - promoted by David Sirota)

In my piece yesterday about the rigged assumptions confining our health care debate, I might have added one more assumption that seems to be at work here: The assumption that "after this bill is passed, we will later come back and fix the things in the bill that are not good."

This assumption, of course, includes a bit of a contradiction with the first assumption from my piece yesterday - the assumption that this is our "last chance" to enact health care reform. It's not entirely logical to argue that we have one chance to enact health care reform because Congress will supposedly never revisit the issue in the future, and then simultaneously argue that Congress will be happy to revisit health care repeatedly to fix the stuff in this bill that's broken. It's either one or the other - it can't really be both. And here's the thing: If it's the former, if this is our "last" or "only" chance because Congress won't come back to health care for a generation, then it means the failings of this bill will be cemented in stone; If it's the latter, it means Congress can, in fact, go back to the drawing board right now because it will be happy to revisit health care.

Of course, you could argue that if the current bill passes, Congress will be more likely to go back to health care in the future specifically because this bill will create all sorts of new things that Congress will need to/want to address. But if you are making that argument, then there is an X factor we must all remember as we continue to have this very heated "pass it/don't pass it" argument.

This week, the White House attacked Howard Dean and progressives for highlighting the very serious policy flaws in this bill - the administration attacked us for threatening the future of health care reform. But what Dean and progressives are doing is actually increasing the chances that the final outcome will be better - both in the short term and the long term.

David Sirota :: The Long-Term Value of Insisting The Health Bill Is Not Good Enough
In the short term, the progressive critique is creating the possibility that the final post-conference bill that is passed into law is as good as it can be under these awful political circumstances. And it is working - notice that Harry Reid's manager's amendment yesterday made some improvements.

In the long-term, the progressive critique today is helping to increase the chance that Congress will, in fact, revisit health care to make the improvements the bill's backers acknowledge will need to be made in the future. If there is no critique today, we will allow the idea to be baked into in the political discourse that this health care bill fixed everything and Congress doesn't need to touch health care again for a generation. But with the critique, we are laying down markers for what still needs to be improved. It's the dynamic we have, in the past, failed to create, as evidenced by this exchange between then-Rep. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and President Bill Clinton, as recounted by OpenLeft's Chris Bowers:

I recently heard an interesting anecdote about the 1993 budget fight. While it is probably the most progressive piece of sizable legislation to pass into law in two decades, it was a grueling fight--passing both branches of Congress by a single vote--and it still could have been better. At the signing ceremony, President Clinton found then Representative Bernie Sanders, and told Sanders that he, Sanders, should have made a much bigger public display of how he, Clinton, wasn't giving enough to liberals in the new budget. Such a public display would have provided Clinton more room to maneuver on the left.

I've heard talk from folks that the super secret plan among congressional Democrats is to pass the current Senate bill into law and then after the Liebermans and Nelsons can't finagle with that bill, do a reconciliation vote on a public option or Medicare buy-in. This may, indeed, happen - but not because the congressional Democratic leadership will want to out of the goodness of its own heart. If power concedes nothing without demand, Democrats will only pursue that future course of action because there was such a furor over the failure to pass those measures in the original bill that they will feel forced to allow such a reconciliation vote.

So that gets back to the progressive strategy. If we are truly going to be a movement and not merely the arm of a political party, then progressives have to understand the different roles we all play. Politicians in Washington have one role - they are predisposed to try to get anything done no matter what it is. We have another role - and right now, our role should be to continue demanding improvements with as cutthroat and as intense the tactics that the insurance industry is using (and, I know some people differ with me on this, but my own opinion is that means working right now to kill the Senate version of this bill). Because if we don't demand those improvements and show we're really willing to play hardball now, those improvements will never be made.

In other words, if you are a Democrat, wherever you come down on the "pass the Lieberman-gutted bill" or "don't pass the Lieberman-gutted bill" divide, it should be clear the fight we're having right now over the Lieberman-gutted Senate bill is a fight worth having not just for this particular bill. It's a fight worth having for the overall cause of genuine health care reform. The progressive movement backing the president and/or the Democrats because of party affiliation, falling in line out of some obligation to unity, and even using our limited resources to praise this bill as "a good step forward" fails to appreciate how a movement is different than a party or a set of politicians. It fails to maximize what movements need to do to make sure parties and politicians deliver the most they can in the short-term and follow through in the long-term.

Mind you, conservatives want to use right-wing arguments to make this bill as painful as possible to pass, so that Democrats never come back to health care again, and if they do, only to enact conservative (read: destructive) reforms. Progressives must fight that fire with our own fire - we have to use progressive arguments to make this bill as painful as possible to pass (if it does pass), so that Democrats feel forced to come back to health care again so as to make the health care system better.

The fight we're having may be unpleasant and uncomfortable. It may make politicians, pundits and the Professional Political Class angry (I've gotten my share of blowback, believe me). But it is a fight that increases the chances that health care is ultimately reformed, whether today or in the future.

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Great piece... (4.00 / 3)
I'm in favor of passing the bill, but I agree that progressives have to keep insisting that this isn't good enough and needs to be strengthened.  The meme can't be ignored.      

So how can they be (4.00 / 2)
"insisting that this isn't good enough and needs to be strengthened" and voting to pass the bill?

If they vote to pass it, they have said it is "good enough" and that it doesn't need to be strengthened - this just plays in obama/rahm's plan.

Don't get your point.

[ Parent ]
Quandary (4.00 / 4)
Your question points out the central quandary in this debate.  Had the liberal community rejected Medicare buy-in for 55+ it would still be in the bill.  Because we wholeheartedly supported the idea, it was dropped.  Some (obviously Lieberman, but also others) need, in their feeble little, petty minds, to triangulate against an "angry left".  That's incredibly stupid, but apparently true.

I don't think this quandary can be solved by faking a reaction.  While I'm in favor of passing this bill, I'm glad a large chunk of the liberal community is against it, because it is the best chance we have to improve the bill, or at least stop the gutting.  So while I disagree with large chunks of what David wrote, I'm not going to spend any effort making a counter point.

But I do think one of the worst case scenarios is the Left votes against the bill and Lieberman and his pals get to claim the Left killed it.  I think everyone here understands that is exactly how the media would portray the events should that happen.

[ Parent ]
Agreed.... (0.00 / 0)
I was actually surprised by the large amount of positive press I saw  on the Nelson Deal.   Yegelias on Daily Beast seemed like he was ready to fall down in worship of Reid.

The whole deal is a bit shady and really not something I love.  But to me, killing this bill NOW is poor long term strategy and is in stead knee jerk reactions.   There are many on here I like and respect, but I don't think they have a true understanding of long term strategic architecture, or they do not have a knack for it.  I have liked David's articles the last few days, but his conjecture is essentially putting everything on Red and going for Broke.  Its an interesting short term strategy, but to me its not a good long term strategy.    He could be right... its possible that they'll bring it up right away... its equally possible they wont.   Rather hitting the meme that this is SIMPLY a start, and building from this bill is a winning long term strategy.   We seem to have gotten impatient and forgotten just how slimy Washington and how hard it is to get something so huge passed in one big bill.   The new deal didn't get made in one bill or to use a better cliche.. Rome wasn't built in a day.      

[ Parent ]
The Sell-Out Had Nothing To Do With Taunting Liberals! (0.00 / 0)
That seems to be an added bonus for Lieberman and Nelson, et al. But, the REAL reason they vetoed medicare expansion is the very same reason they are passing such a POS health care bill in the first place!

Insurance lobbying. Once the medicare buy-in was on the table the insurance lobby didn't like it -- just like they didn't like the public option no matter how feeble it was compromised.

Why? After all the "public option" wasn't going to REALLY provide much competition by the time the Senate got through with it. It was going to be too weak to impact their profits much.

Answer: Because they see it as the "foot in the door" for single payer. ANY expansion of government programs covering the sick will ultimately lead to MORE expansion unless it's trounced on immediately.

If they can lower the medicare eligibility to 55, why not 50? Why not expand it to cover the entire population? The logic is inescapable.

Of course they have the fall back position of "it will cost too much" but that might not be sufficient if enough people demand it. Better to defeat it entirely than risk a further future erosion of their profits!

[ Parent ]
No... (4.00 / 2)
Voting for it does not signal its 100% OK.   What it says it's an opportunity to get SOME of the aspects wanted in and more needs to be added and improved.   Very simple.   What you said IS the spin I would expect from Rahm.    

[ Parent ]
Thx, David! That's guidance many here were waiting for. (4.00 / 2)
"We have another role - and right now, our role should be to continue demanding improvements with as cutthroat and as intense the tactics that the insurance industry is using (and, I know some people differ with me on this, but my own opinion is that means working right now to kill the Senate version of this bill). Because if we don't demand those improvements and show we're really willing to play hardball now, those improvements will never be made."

Finally a clearly defined marching route! Let's battle on with opposition to the Senate bill. We may be outgunned now, and we probably won't succeed, but our pressure can result in Obama and/or Reid coming up with an additional bill to appease the revolting base. And even if that doesn't realize, at least we prevent th progressive movement from falling back into obscurity. Just sitting around with starry eyes and watch the atrocities happen certainly wouldn't be healthy. So, full speed ahead, and damn the torpedoes!

Yes, I think that's good advice. Again, thx for the rally cry, David!

bargaining 101 (4.00 / 6)
It appears that Obama made a strategic decision to prioritize corporate favor over getting the best bill possible. But regardless, Obama's political fortunes now rest in no small measure on passing a bill, any bill. That gives progressives more leverage than we seem to be using. He needs a bill. We should be able to hold out for reconciliation and a much better bill. The bottom line is that unless you are willing to walk away from a deal, you have no bargaining power. Progressives need to demonstrate that we will indeed walk away from a shitty deal as long as a better deal is politically possible. And no one has made a credible case that Obama has done all he can to get a better bill. His prioritization of corporate money is not our priority. But he needs a bill. That is our point of leverage to force him to modify his priorities and use reconciliation and some sticks and not just carrots for conservadems.

[ Parent ]
Yes! Exploit BHO's weakness. (4.00 / 1)
Creating an arbitrary "Senate bill by Christmas" time-line was a tactical error on his part. We can exploit that. We've been nice to BHO without getting anything in return long enough.

[ Parent ]
Franken has his first ever (0.00 / 0)
diary up at dkos supporting the health care bill.  

There is no way (4.00 / 2)
Three is no way the present bill can be fixed because it is based on flawed principles. After all, it was written almost in toto by the insurance industry and pharma through legal bribery, back room deals, and the revolving door. The reality is is that as long as the private sector is in charge of health care the people will not be served because the responsibility of top management is to shareholders, not the public. In addition, most investors are interested in capital gains through increasing stock prices instead of dividend distributions. As a result, companies are run to please Wall Street analysts who make or break stock prices by their evaluations. Anyone who thinks that the public will ever get a fair deal out of this corrupt system is crazy. Single-payer is the only way to go and Democrats should hold out for it it takes fifty years. Nothing short of this will really work and people paying for insurance with think they are adequately covered until something happens to them. This is no improvement over the present system at all, and, with forcing people to buy a bad product, is actually a step backward.

Can't fix present bill because (4.00 / 2)
this IS the bill that obama has sold us out for.  While you are right, it is all based on flawed premises, the dialog was limited to only those flawed premises from the git-go.

Well not during the campaign in 2008 - obviously, obama lied about his intentions.  When he chose rahm as COS, it was clear he was going to do a major attack on his political base.

[ Parent ]
and yet here we are (0.00 / 0)
so now what?

- we can't fix this bill but we can put more good things in to it and take out some bad things.

- i agree with you about single-payer. and with Paul that one thing to do about that now is to fight for the right of states to use it (though how that works without deficit spending is a tough question).

- we also have to work on telling people about that and how to tell them about it. when someone as smart and generally clued-in as John Cole still thinks that single-payer == NHS that's a good sign that it's still too obscure.

- we can start pushing for Harkin-style filibuster reform

- we can come back before the worst parts of this bill really kick in and redo and/or remove them

- we can elect some of we to Congress so talking about "we can do X" will be not so much just greenhouse gas...

not everything worth doing is profitable. not everything profitable is worth doing.

[ Parent ]
Mandates will force progressive improvement (0.00 / 0)
Healthcare reform overall has failed because of the many entrenched interests.  Politicans look for easier problems to push on, and voters are too lazy to follow all the arguments.

Mandates (whether through taxation or individual mandates) are part of any long-term overhaul of healthcare.  You need to pass the mental and emotional hurdle of getting everyone to realize they have to pay in.  And a "healthcare tax" is easy for the right to demagogue.

Okay people can now keep their shitty private insurance, which remember was a big point with the GOP propaganda against reform.  But now they're going to have to start paying the real costs.  Employer-funded healthcare has been hiding those true costs, but that is about to disappear due to rising healthcare costs.

Now we can start to have a real national conversation about healthcare.  And I look forward to Ben Nelson and Joe Lieberman and Olympia Snowe being forced to explain to their constituents why they cannot be allowed to buy into Medicare, in this brave new world of individual health insurance.

They won't be able to roll back the mandates and go back to the present status quo.  Premier Wen will see to that.

Of course Democrats are going to be slaughtered next year because of mandates.  I don't have any sympathy for them, they could have pushed Medicare buy-in through reconciliation, the GOP did worse with reconciliation.  

But one hopes that those that survive the culling of the herd next November will get the message.

no roll back? (0.00 / 0)
They won't be able to roll back the mandates and go back to the present status quo.  Premier Wen will see to that.

Wen Jiabao is enforcing our mandates? Can you unpack that logic a bit? (Also, "they" is the Senate, right?)

not everything worth doing is profitable. not everything profitable is worth doing.

[ Parent ]
Foreign creditors need some assurance that the US can manage its fiscal future (4.00 / 1)
No matter how unppular mandates become due to GOP demagoguing, they can't undo them without offering a fiscally sane alternative (like single-payer) or an opt-out clause out of private insurance (public option, Medicare buy-in).

The Chinese will stop buying US treasuries if the US tries to roll back healthcare reform.  This process can only move forward.

[ Parent ]
Sure they can (0.00 / 0)
They will just "roll-back" Medicare itself.

[ Parent ]
Failure of healthcare reform now will make that more likely (4.00 / 1)
The narrative will be, we tried, but the left was too obstreperous.  Okay fine we'll work in a bipartisan fashion to get our healthcare spending under control.

If we've learned anything from this healthcare reform farce, surely we now know that these geniuses are sufficiently out of touch that they would march into political oblivion in the name of Beltway conventional wisdom.

[ Parent ]
Look, we just need those NAFTA side-agreements! (4.00 / 3)
Actually, I'm one of those glumly in favor of passing the bill for a variety of reasons, not one of which makes me stupid or naive, but I'm also going to be a bit skeptical about any easy suggestion that the bill can be 'fixed' later.

So maybe that's a good point to raise about there being severe problems with it now.

On the plus side, unlike NAFTA, whose central chapters disallowed any "side agreement" and made them unenforceable -- so any Democrat official who spoke about them either knew or easily could have known they were lying -- I haven't heard so far that there are central parts of the health insurance reform bill which would prevent later changes legally.

IF true, the "secret strategy" is good news. (0.00 / 0)
I highly doubt that this is the case (and I know you're not contending that it is the case).

But, the "secret strategy" would help explain how opposition by people like Bernie Sanders and Russ Feingold petered out; and how a seeming "progressive" like Al Franken would write a diary at dKos advocating passage of the bill; and why the "architect" of the public option would do the same; and why we aren't seeing more vocal and determined opposition from members of the CPC.

It smacks of the now-thoroughly-disproven "11-dimensional chessmaster" theory, though--or a particularly bad case of "prisoner's reprieve."  I want to believe it...

The "we will fix it in the future" meme (4.00 / 2)
is a rationalization for capitulation to me. At its core is not that anyone really believes deep down in the future. it is that they don't believe in today. thus, all they got is claims about some future action.  

Agreed - proof is how (0.00 / 0)
everyone that undermined the process and ultimately the bill itself was covered by dem leadership and the white house.

The WH even lied about backing up LIE-berman and pressuring ried to capitulate.

Future action - LOL!

obama and dem leaders didn't intend any meaningful action THIS time around and certainly won't entertain it again.

[ Parent ]
Sure, well why has the bill always been planned to take effect after the (4.00 / 1)
2010 elections? Clearly, it was understood from the get go that the bill would be something the public would find very unsatisfactory.

[ Parent ]
It's worse than that (4.00 / 1)
Even the parts that some proclaim are "good" don't take effect until 2014.

Anyone think this bozo obama is going to give us anything better if he wins re-election?

And after 2010 midterms - forget it - they clearly are telling progressives/liberals that we are not part of the dialog.

[ Parent ]
at the end of the day I think the democratic leadership (4.00 / 1)
is as much captured by corporate interest as the gop ever was. To me, I just don't believe a word coming out of anyone's mouth anymore about why they do what they do. For whatever reason, whether they are enablers or direct actors, they allow the corruption of the system to continue. As Tabibi said, and I will continue to use this line because it sums up my view "You asking a corrupt system" (DC)  "to reform a corrupt system" (In this case he was talking about the insurance company, but it could really be anything.).  You have a whole generation of Democrats captured by this system - again for whatever reasons. You have people also wanting to hero worship this behavior, and I am just beyond that. I have little respect for any of enablers. They are weak and history will look down on them for it.  

[ Parent ]
My understanding (0.00 / 0)
Is that some things, such as subsidies, are delayed to make sure that the CBO scores the bill as not increasing the deficit.

Things You Don't Talk About in Polite Company: Religion, Politics, the Occasional Intersection of Both

[ Parent ]
I do no trust what comes out of DC to be true at the moment (0.00 / 0)
I want to understand why you do?

[ Parent ]
by the way - this is the same CBO (0.00 / 0)
that also claimed that 90 percent MLR means government take over of health care.  

[ Parent ]
Right, bruhrabbit (4.00 / 1)
It is a law of science that unless additional energy is applied, things fall apart (entropy).  The trend will be that the bill will get worse, not better, unless a lot of pressure is applied.  Look at the recent wars to keep Social Security, the most popular government program in history, intact.  Each party has gone after it hard in turn while the 83 year old Pete Peterson licks his chops.  Selfish jerk.

The fix in the future will be to make it more corporate friendly and less progressive.  Fix it now or junk it.

[ Parent ]
The "Fix in the Future" (4.00 / 1)
will be to add loopholes and gut anything that is being sold to us now as "good".

If obama had honest intentions, the white house would not have lied about pressuring ried to capitulate to LIE-berman AGAIN!

[ Parent ]
As I point out in the Quick Hits (0.00 / 0)
The bill also may not contain a viable enforcement mechanism. Based on the response of Lord Mike who seeks to set up a false choice , I can only conclude that the force that be and their enablers know this bill's consumer protection clauses lacks enforcement. Thus, this reinforces my view that this entire process, including many blogging on the subject, are engaged in a sales campaign at this point rather than any real discussion. I think this bill is a done deal, and the House conference will yield nothing additional.  

[ Parent ]
It can be both (0.00 / 0)
You write:

It's not entirely logical to argue that we have one chance to enact health care reform because Congress will supposedly never revisit the issue in the future, and then simultaneously argue that Congress will be happy to revisit health care repeatedly to fix the stuff in this bill that's broken. It's either one or the other - it can't really be both.

First off, the argument isn't that Congress will never revisit health care reform, but that they won't do it anytime soon.

One argument (which I don't necessarily agree with) is that a failure to pass a bill, any bill, might result in the Democrats losing control of Congress (or such a small majority that the Blue Dogs can block anything they wish in the House) and Obama being a one-term president.  If one believes that not passing a bill results in a political arrangement where the center-left no longer has the votes necessary to enact meaningful health care reform for at least a decade, while passing a bill with token improvements preserves Democratic control of government and starts us on an incremental path towards universal health coverage, then one can logically believe that it can really be both.

Things You Don't Talk About in Polite Company: Religion, Politics, the Occasional Intersection of Both

Does insisting that the Health Care Bill isn't Good Enough demand working to kill it? (0.00 / 0)
I say it doesn't.  Especially if it leads to a huge fight between those who disagree.  

sTiVo's rule: Just because YOU "wouldn't put it past 'em" doesn't prove that THEY did it.

[ Parent ]
Sorry, Anthony, this was meant to be a comment on the post, not a reply to you. (0.00 / 0)
Although, on looking at it, it's not a terrible place for it.

sTiVo's rule: Just because YOU "wouldn't put it past 'em" doesn't prove that THEY did it.

[ Parent ]
And the question that needs to be asked is: (4.00 / 1)
If the intention was to delay everything that might help some Americans until 2014 - WHY DOES ANYONE EVEN THINK THE SAME GANG THAT SOLD US OUT IN THE PROCESS OF DRAFTING THIS POS IS GOING TO LET ANYTHING MEANINGFUL ACTUALLY TAKE EFFECT IN 2014?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?

They sold us out this year and you can expect it in each and every coming year.

The Next Battle (4.00 / 4)
I think David is 100% right that expressing deep dissatisfaction is critical, not only to improving the chance that improvements will be made (now, in the near future) but also because it may be the wake-up call this administration needs.

There's a great post ( by Chris Weigant: One Bad Week. Among other things, he states: I've heard insiders say that only now is the Obama team realizing that the president has been cast by the public as "the defender of Wall Street at the expense (and total disregard) of both Main Street and the middle class in general." This was apparent to most politics-watchers in late spring, so it is downright astonishing to learn that only now is the White House becoming concerned about this widespread perception. And it does not bode well for those who are expecting Obama to address the recent turmoil among his base in any sort of timely fashion.

Right now the admin is engaged in selling the bill, both to the netroots, and to the public. And selling it is requiring a lot of vagueness, a lot of puffery, a lot of emotional manipulation. Our job is to blow aside the smoke and maintain focus on the facts. I think it is very important that the administration get the message that smoke and mirrors doesn't work with the netroots. If they finally grasp that we are "high information" they then have two choices: they become more creatively manipulative, or they start being truthful.

I'm not convinced that they'll opt for truth but at least they'll know that their lies have ever-diminishing returns.

Casting this in broader terms (4.00 / 3)
It's clear to me now that the broad strokes of this bill are exactly what the Senate Dems and White House wanted all along.

It's clear to me now that much of 2009 was simply a game with the base, to delay and dawdle and dither until the base tired and either gave into self-defeatism that we're powerless, or into the self-delusion that this mirage of reform is a win.

It's clear to me now, after large numbers of Senate Dems voted against drug importation, against capping exorbitant credit card rates, against cramdowns, against stimulus measures that would actually stimulate,'s clear that most of these people are either wholly corrupt, or neoliberal ideological dead-enders.

And it's clear to me now that we face a very stark choice, and that choice is not really about a particular bill, or a politician, or an array of tactics, etc. It's more of a psychological choice of whether or not we are going to accept the reality of the situation, and act accordingly.

Since the '90s, we have suffered one defeat after another, often at the hands of the very people we elected and looked to for leadership. Many in the base seem to deal with this abusive relationship through various self-delusions...willingly following misdirection, willingly accepting DC's definition of what is politically possible and permissable, and especially: telling ourselves that somehow this miserable dynamic will change of its own accord. Read many of the posts in the blogosphere, and its clear that some people are hooked on a narcotic, a feel-good delusion that things aren't really that bad, and that tomorrow's political fight will amazingly turn out to be magically different than every political fight of the last 20 years. We're all acting like alcoholics and heroin addicts.

The message from DC this week was that "you will learn to lose, and you will learn to like it". We're the ones being held hostage, and we've developed a Stockholm Syndrome in order to deal with it. It's amazing to me the extent to which the President has been able to transfer people's passion for various reforms that would directly impact their daily lives, and instead turn that into passion for his political wellbeing...with the once clear and personal vision of the reform itself now fading from their consciousness.

But we've got to wake up, and we've got to start acting in ways that deal with our reality. Otherwise, a few years from now our own leaders will wipe away the last vestiges of the New Deal/Great Society, and everyone around us will be cheering "Obama", or "Hillary", or whoever it is at that point.

And then we'll start cheering too.

We're the Ones being held hostage (0.00 / 0)

[ Parent ]
I agree but.... (0.00 / 0)
....I would say focus on punishing the Dems for what they did not include.  Keep on punishing them until they fix the things that are missing from this year's bill.  That means making mandates a major issue in the 2010 and 2012 elections, and the left blogosphere perhaps joining with the RW noise machine in condemning the Dem capitulation to Big Pharma and Big Health Insurance.

Killing the bill is only going to play into the hands of the Rahm's of this world.  Who do you think the DC establishment will blame if this bill fails?

The Dems deserve to be punished for their hapless performance on such a signature piece of legislation.  They need a lesson, and in November they're going to get it.

[ Parent ]
The bill is so weak that to me it's immaterial (4.00 / 2)
The entire industrialized world, and an ever-growing number of developing countries, have either government-owned or government-run health insurance that is 1)universal, 2)equal in quality, and 3) costs about half of what we pay. Many countries have had such a system for generations...Britian in 1946, Sweden in the '30s I believe, and Germany in 1883 under Bismarck, for Christ's sake.

Despite having a President elected with a 7% margin on a clear mandate for change, and despite having the largest Democratic majorities in Congress in 30 years, we get a crap steak of a bill, and Franken over on DKOS telling us how great the garnish is.

I'm not concerned about the bill, and I'm only mildly concerned with what happens in November, because give the current dynamic, however the election plays out, we'll still lose.

To me the big question here is whether or not the movement is born...whether or not individuals stop deluding themselves, whether or not unions-our biggest political muscle-actually exercise their strength, whether we face up to the fact that in order to win (change the dynamic) we're going to have to risk losing in painful ways.

Right now, we're getting the worst of both worlds: we're trapped in the gauzy self-delusions that the Dems will ever change of their own volition, while still suffering loss after loss.

We're going to have to go after the leadership, even if it means handing the occassional race to the Republicans. And we're also going to have to build an infrastructure outside the Democratic party, so that we have a potential vehicle to challenge the Dems in general elections.

[ Parent ]
in v. out of system (0.00 / 0)
So many of us are used to working within the system, we can't grasp that the system is rigged.  It is futile to keep expecting a different outcome.  But that is a very scary/disempowering thought to a lot of folks.  Control issues and whatnot.

I think our options are working outside of the system, while keeping a steady eye on it.  We gotta be informed about the machinations swirling in it.  

Or we can play the system with our own rules.  Not the system's rules, but ours.  It will probably seem scary and batshit crazy, but only because the "proper" rules have been ingrained in us.  Effectiveness has to outweigh appearances and respectability.

Or we could do both......

[ Parent ]
I know people think its scary (0.00 / 0)
and no one should be cavalier about it. But I think its clear that we have to work both inside and outside the system...

[ Parent ]
I was being cavalier about it (0.00 / 0)
b/c it seems so freakin obvious to me.  

I don't think I have it in me to work in the system anymore.  Never felt right personally anyway.  but I still want to know what is going on, and help out when I can.

Anyway my point is that too many progressives still think the fight isn't fixed and are working towards outcomes that won't happen because they are playing by the rules.  Rules that favor outcomes not in our favor.

I agree with your previous comment a lot.

[ Parent ]
I think you've got it! (0.00 / 0)
Great Points.

[ Parent ]
Vote "no" on current Senate health care bill (4.00 / 2)
If the Senate health care bill had come up 3 years ago, I would have been for it. It does contain provisions that make health care more secure and affordable for millions of Americans. Trouble is, it has come about as a way to undermine efforts at real health care reform (public option) in Congress. Because it kills the public option, it will hurt many more people than it helps, and hurt them greatly.

If Nelson, Lieberman, and Snow can threaten to vote against if they don't like the bill, why not progressives? Obama needs some health care reform. If the House Progressive Caucus were to maintain their stance and kill the bill, what would Obama do? Maybe he would decide that a real fight in the Senate was worth it, and we would see moves toward passing with reconciliation, or maybe even getting rid of the filibuster completely.

Standing up for the public option has to be, first and foremost, a mass movement. That way, the House Progressive Caucus would have some cover. The problem here is that union dominated HCAN never made the public option something to organize a mass movement around. It was never allowed to be a featured issue at any of the big HCAN demos that I'm familiar with.

Brian King


Will it make anyone else sick (0.00 / 0)
when obama stuff a sock into his underwear and prances in front of a MISSION ACCOMPLISHED sign and gyrates his hips after they pass the insurance company protection act?

If you think his rhetoric after the faux climate change agreement was a sham, just wait 'til you see this despicable act.

And to make matters worse, purely for propaganda value, they will prclaim they did it for Christmas.

Does this mean that Santa himself has sold us out too?

negotiating like a Democrat (4.00 / 1)
this is perfect

not everything worth doing is profitable. not everything profitable is worth doing.

Passing the Nelson gutted bill means destroying access to abortion (4.00 / 2)
If the Senate version becomes law, then passing the public option via reconciliation later only peermanently makes sure that tens of millions of women lose access to abortion.  In effect this is as far reaching in losing abortion access as Stupak.  Why should the most common medical procedure not be covered?  Why only women?

Reconciliation later can not repeal the abortion restrictions from my understanding how narrowly the Byrd rule would see the removal of the restrictions.

So it's reconciliation now, not later.

By the way there is no rape, incest or life of the mother exceptions in the state opt out provisions.

Nor in any way are there health exceptions.

And the funding rules say that the actual cost of an abortion must be paid for by the segregated premium amount.  One that is just like the abortion rider provision in Stupak...stigmatizing.  Second it would never cover the abortions that are very expensive....ones like late term one involving, hydrocephaly( fetus has an enlarged head and will die) anencephaly ( no brain) or other dangerous health conditions like worsening maternal diabetes that won't kill her instantly but later.  They cost 5 figures or more.  No way can premium segreagation add up to that number for a patient.  

Later isn't going to work


"Incrementalism isn't a different path to the same place, it could be a different path to a different place"

However... (0.00 / 0)
What's to say Nelson couldn't be stripped if a PO is passed by reconciliation?

[ Parent ]
if, then (0.00 / 0)
It's not entirely logical to argue that we have one chance to enact health care reform because Congress will supposedly never revisit the issue in the future, and then simultaneously argue that Congress will be happy to revisit health care repeatedly to fix the stuff in this bill that's broken

Here's the most logical manner in which to approach this.

If the progressive left can succeed in electing democrats or independents who are not lapdogs of Wall Street then healthcare reform can be revisited.

If not, what has [logically] changed?

Does anyone else love OL on the weekends? (0.00 / 0)
Unlike M-F, we get some thoughtful posts that are more than insiders trying to shape issues around their pet ideas and self-interest.

Thank goodness we get to hear from others with posts like these on the weekends.

My impression is that the level of dissent was building up... (0.00 / 0)
until 9/11/2001 (at least from the left).  I mean, look at the protests that occurred at the WTO in Seattle, for example.  After 9/11, for some reason, people have not been as willing to organize for fear of appearing to be too radical.  I guess this is entirely reasonable, given the shock our nation was in at the time.  This low-key approach continued even in the face of the outrages by the Bush Administration.  True, in 2007 and 2008, a record number of people got involved in political campaigns for Obama and others, indicating that there is a strong, untapped movement for progressive change in our country, but we have to figure out a way to make sure our issues and demands are heard outside of the political arena.  We have to find new ways to do that.  And we need to figure out ways to bring in people from all walks of life, allowing people to participate in ways they are most comfortable with.  

I think you're right. (0.00 / 0)
I think the bill should be passed, and I think it's a very good thing that we have some prominent progressives out there saying the bill as it stands is not good enough to be passed. Obama and the Congressional leadership need to continue to feel pressure from their left on this issue.

Also, I think the argument about this bill being the "last chance" is neither contradictory nor quite what you suggest. I think it plays off of the intuition that Congress, being craven and afraid to take on issues that have gotten earlier generations of pols burned, is far more likely to take up legislation on a subject where there is recent successful legislation than on a subject where there is recent failed legislation. In that sense, passing this bill is necessary to demonstrate to Congress that HCR is not the second third rail of American politics.

Your take is worthwhile (0.00 / 0)
because regardless of what our opinions are of the merits of passing, it appears to be a done deal.

Need to keep heat on and let them all know that this is not enough - perhaps obama thought prancing around proclaiming "mission accomplished" on climate issues was good enough.

We need to send a message loud and clear here that we won't accept the same scam on HCR.

[ Parent ]
All questions of content aside (0.00 / 0)
why is this piece, written last Sunday, the top story five days later on OpenLeft?

sTiVo's rule: Just because YOU "wouldn't put it past 'em" doesn't prove that THEY did it.

ummmmm..... (0.00 / 0)
Because it the holidays and many are taking a break and/or spending time with families?

[ Parent ]
Well (0.00 / 0)
It appeared on Sunday, disappeared from view until Christmas when my comment was evidently the first since the 21st.  Moreover, it has the byline of David Sirota who also indicates that he promoted it.

I'm not being the least bit critical, by the way.  I like this piece much better than some of Sirota's other more recent pieces.  It PROPERLY takes credit for some of the last-minute improvements that were made in the bill, which is something that the more extreme criticisms dismiss as worthless.  I agree basically with its thrust which is to continue the vigorous criticism of the bill's shortcomings (whether Obama likes it or not) without falling into the trap of loudly but impotently denouncing as "traitors" those Congresspeople who, in spite of what they may have said earlier, chose not to vote to kill the bill.  

Such yapping reminds me of those loud miniature poodles, who, secure behind a high fence, will bark in bloodcurdling fashion at much any larger dogs who happen to pass by.

Whereas this type of more measured criticism emphasizes that this isn't over, we're not fooled, but do recognize what the lay of the land actually is.  We are going to have to operate in a terrain where, most likely, health insurance reform without a public option is the new law of the land.

Much the yapping about various long-shot schemes to resurrect the PO before this battle is over seems to come from people who simply haven't been emotionally able to face this sad reality squarely.  

sTiVo's rule: Just because YOU "wouldn't put it past 'em" doesn't prove that THEY did it.

[ Parent ]
It's more than a "strategic value"... (4.00 / 1)
It's the essence of Progressive Front aggressively advance the fundamental ideals that prompt us to action. The effect on the Overton window notwithstanding, there is no reason for me to take an active role in political action, i.e., canvassing and registering new voters, if I do not proceed from the ideal that everything must be improved...that everything must change...that the present will soon be the past and the goals will only be ever higher.

That may be frustrating to some. Some may regard it as futile. Others may assert that it is unrealistic and obstructionist, leading to opposition intransigence - but I AM NOT A NEGOTIATOR!!!! I am an activist.

There's a huge difference between sitting at a table offering conciliation or compromise, hammering out deals, seeking an elusive "win-win" situation - and getting out on the street knocking on doors or being civilly disobedient.

If we didn't have Jane Hamsher joining forces for obstruction with the most abhorrent extremists, we'd need someone else at the forefront reminding us why we fight!

They only call it class war when we fight back.

I'm just greatful obama didn't get to shove a schtolen down his pants (0.00 / 0)
all dressed in red and white and prance around in front of a MISSION ACCOMPLISHED sign proclaiming he was Santa and that this bailout to the insurance industry was some type of Christmas gift for the nation.


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