A list of political arguments about passing or defeating the health bill

by: Chris Bowers

Tue Dec 22, 2009 at 14:15

There are currently dozens of lists floating around the internet about the many reasons why the health care reform bill should be killed or passed.  Personally, when it comes to determining the value of the Senate health care reform bill, I have found those lists more useful than a dozen CBO scores.

Still, I will not be directly engaging in that wonky debate in this post.  If you want to debate the policy of the bill, this is not an article for you.  Instead, I am going to set policy aside for a moment and look at a list of the various political arguments for passing or defeating the bill.  This is, after all, not just a policy debate, but a political debate, too.

To prevent this post from being a mystery novel, I conclude that the only major political difference between Progressives defeating this bill versus letting it pass will be to undermine the Progressive political position within the overall Democratic coalition.  This is, I bet, a calculation many Progressives have already made, which is one of the reasons why they are signaling they could accept the bill.

Full explanation in the extended entry.

Chris Bowers :: A list of political arguments about passing or defeating the health bill
  1. Will passing the bill make future health care reform efforts easier or more difficult?  Those progressives in favor of defeating the bill argue that passing it will make future legislative reform more difficult.  The reasoning here is that this reform will strengthen the insurance industry, giving them more power to fight future reforms.  Also, reform will be shelved for a while.  After the massive struggle to pass this bill, the public will lose confidence in the legislative reform process, while those in the beltway will feel as though the problem has been solved.

    Those in favor of passing the bill make pretty much the exact same argument.  The opponents of reform, including the insurance industry, will have renewed strength if they defeat the bill.  The public will grow extremely skeptical of a process that lasted for an entire year and produced nothing.  People in D.C. will be loathe to once again tackle a process like this, which pushed down their approval ratings and clogged the rest of the legislative calendar to no end.

    The truth is that both of these arguments are entirely speculative and unprovable.  We know more health care legislation won't happen next year, because the House has declared it is "done" with legislation for now.  Other than that, we don't know the future timetable for health care reform will be no matter what happens to this bill.  We also don't know what the public desire for more reform will be, or the relative strength of the players in any future fight.

    Bottom line: With so much speculation on both sides of this argument, it should be disregarded entirely when making any political decision on the bill.  It is an argument over the unknowable.

  2. Should Progressives defeat the bill to increase their influence in Congress?  The idea behind the "Progressive Block" strategy is that Progressives can take a play from Blue Dogs, and increase their influence in Congress, by threatening to join with Republicans to block must-pass legislation unless the Democratic leadership meets Progressive demands.  In this case, the theory would say that because the Progressive demand for a public option was not met, Progressives in the House and Senate should block the entire bill.

    It is still a good idea in theory, but in this specific case it lacks a critical element I had not considered over the summer: sufficient popular support from the Democratic rank and file.  While conservatives and their Blue Dog enablers can rely upon a plutocratic lobbyist, media and donation system for support no matter what they do, Progressive power must flow from popular support.  As such, Progressives will not increase their influence within Congress if they defy the wishes of about three-quarters of Democratic voters and defeat the bill.  Doing so would actually undermine their influence in Congress, leaving them without big money, big media, or rank and file backing.  They would have no source of power left.

    For the Progressive Block strategy to work, participating Progressives need at least half of Democratic voters behind what they are doing.  In this case, at best, one-quarter of the Democratic base is behind defeating the bill from the left.  That isn't enough, and would put any Progressive defying the leadership on this in a weaker position, not a stronger one.

    Bottom line: Progressives can't increase their influence in Congress by defying the will of a supermajority Democratic base.  For this path to work, they need popular support among rank an file Democrats for their actions.  Due in part to President Obama's popularity among the rank and file, that support does not exist for blocking the bill from the left.

  3. Should the bill be delayed, rather than defeated, and passed through reconciliation?  This is something which I agree we definitely should have done.  With Senators becoming less progressive the deeper you dig into the bench, it is simple mathematics that a bill which only requires 51 votes can be made more progressive than a bill that requires 60 votes.  Even if not every part of the bill can be passed through reconciliation, those parts that could have been passed through reconciliation would have been made stronger if they only required 51 votes.  Further, more broadly speaking, we should be pushing to achieve a 51 vote Senate whenever possible.

    Problem is, we did not put in the effort over the summer to round-up 51 votes for reconciliation.  The Senate whip count which we helped conduct here on Open Left was focused on finding 51 votes for a public option, not on finding 51 votes for reconciliation.  At this late date, reconciliation would require starting a new whip count campaign, even though the last one took five months.  Further, progressive Senators like Feingold and Harkin start in opposition.  Every Conservadem who wrung concessions in the bill would be opposed, too.  Hard to imagine that the leadership would want to start over from the beginning, either.

    Bottom line: Let's never make the mistake of not pushing for a 51 vote Senate, wherever possible, again.  At this point, however, it is too late.  Whether or not we push for reconciliation, it won't happen.

  4. Will passing or defeating the bill have more negative electoral repercussions for Democrats in the short-term and long-term? Both sides are also arguing about the short-term and long-term electoral impact of defeating or passing the bill.  On this front, I will simply reiterate my claim that every outcome sucks for Democrats in both the short-term and long-term:

    • The bill passes, as is.  The health care bill is very unpopular, at least relative to almost every other law Congress has passed over the last 16 years.  This will have the short-term consequence of public blowback, and the long-term consequence of the individual mandate. Oh yeah, and advocates of stronger health care reform grow more dejected.

    • The bill passes, without the individual mandate.  In this extreme long-shot scenario, the bill is still unpopular.  Public blowback anyway.  Advocates of stronger health care reform still grow more dejected.  Health care costs probably rise even faster, (and fewer people are covered) resulting in different, though still negative, long-term political consequences.

    • The bill is defeated by Republicans and conservative Democrats.  If this happens, then ineffective Democrats were stopped from passing an unpopular bill by heroic conservatives.  Democrats still have an unpopular bill hung around their neck anyway, but now people turn even harder to the teabaggers in the short term due to their heroic effort to defeat the bill.  Advocates of stronger health care reform still grow more dejected.  Democratic rank and file, which still largely likes the bill (despite some movement in the other direction) also grows even more dejected.

    • The bill is defeated by Republicans and progressive Democrats.  Everything from #3, plus a much more difficult political environment for progressive candidates who are facing Democratic primaries against White House backed candidates.

    Bottom line: As with #1, although for different reasons, this argument doesn't matter.  Every outcome is bad from a political perspective.  It is a wash.

My overall conclusion is pretty much the same one I have been making all along: if Progressives defeat the bill, the only different political outcome they will experience from passing the bill will be to undermine their own political position within the Democratic coalition (#2 on this list).  Electoral impacts for the entire party are negative no matter what, arguments over impact of this bill on future health care reform efforts are entirely speculative for both sides, and reconciliation simply isn't going to happen at this late date.  All I see from a Progressive defeat of the health care bill is an even weaker position of Progressives in the overall caucus, largely because of the dominance President Obama retains over the progressive and Democratic rank and file.

At the same time, it remains vital for Progressives and progressives to maintain a public face of outrage at the bill, at least until the conference committee is over and the bill ends up on President Obama's desk.  As soon as the progressive consensus becomes that this bill is teh awesome, the worse the bill will become.  Any attempts to strengthen the bill requires people on the left making as much hay as possible over how much the bill sucks.  This is a simple principle that even famed Third Way Presidents like Bill Clinton understand perfectly well:

Mike Lux once told me an anecdote about then-Representative Bernie Sanders and President Clinton during the signing ceremony for the fiscal year 1994 budget. Before the ceremony began, he heard President Clinton telling Representative Sanders that he and other progressive members of Congress should have attacked the budget from the left more vehemently. President Clinton's reasoning was that such attacks would have provided his administration more room to push the legislation to the left, and less justification to give into demands from the right.

Two months ago, President Clinton himself told me a similar story. He said that he had read a lot of people online calling him a sellout, or something similar, for any number of reasons. Rather than being upset with this criticism, he said that he wished that sort of progressive media had been around to broadcast that left-wing criticism during the 1993-1994 health care fight. Once again, if that criticism had been both prominent and backed up with real power in Congress, it would have given him a lot more room to work on health care.

You can't strengthen legislation from a progressive perspective unless people are demanding it be strengthened from a progressive perspective.  As such, even if defeating the bill does not ultimately add up for Progressives in Congress, progressive outrage over the bill remains absolutely vital at least until the end of the conference committee.

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Yet another endless discussion of something Chris wants us to do - (4.00 / 3)
Chris -

Time to get over it - you're not convincing anyone with these lists of talking points.  Isn't it just possible we need to kill the bill because it is a bad bill and a political disaster for the Democrats?  You're living in the weeds - time to stand up and take a broader view of this mess.  I believe that this bill will forever tie the Democrats to the Insurance Companies - we will own them as they already own our leadership.  

As I said elsewhere this is a political disaster for the Dems of the first order.  There is lots of bad things in this bill but the worst is the mandate.  I don't care what the polls say about support for a mandate - that's a theoretical mandate when it gets real and folks start getting fined for not having insurance we, I mean the Democrats, will be blamed as we should be.  Once folks find that the minimal insurance to escape the fine is junk we will be blamed.  Once folks spend hours comparing insurances and trying to make a decision on which one to take out because we are forcing them to do so we will be blamed.  Once insurance companies start raising rates on all the newly insured folks we will be blamed.  Once they start fighting with the parasites of the Insurance Industry to pay for stuff they thought would be covered we will be blamed.  And, every time they make their monthly premium payment we will be blamed.  And boy will they be motivated to vote!  This should increase turnout by at least 10% or more.  The party will be wiped out.

Personally, the Republicans could not have devised a better plan to destroy the Democratic Party if they had all the money and time in the world.  Obama and Company have sold the Democratic Party to the Insurance Companies and we have bought into the disaster hook, line and sinker.  We own Health Insurance now and may god have mercy on our soul because every nasty thing those villains do we will be blamed for and, as we all know, you can expect them to do a lot!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I'd take your argument a little more seriously (4.00 / 1)
if the people making it weren't all willing to accept the same mandates if only they had been perfumed with the magic amulet of a Public Option that had already been diluted to the point of irrelevance.

I think the political problems posed by the mandates are real - but if a weak-tea Public Option could have trumped them, then maybe other things can as well.

The give-up position, on the other hand, offers no hope of any sort.

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

[ Parent ]
Huge difference in mandates (0.00 / 0)
that invoke choice into a monopolistic system and mandates that force everyone to pump more money into those same monopolies.

From downstairs, I know you will post on this endlessly, but to those that honestly look - there is a HUGE difference in mandates to open your wallet to monopolies and mandates that inject choice and perhaps some structured competition into the system.

And just to head some lies off at the pass - progressive opposition to this IN NO WAY mirrors the objections that repugs would voice on any mandate.

Progressives SHOULD be riled up about being forced to give more money to the corpocracy that has undermined our democracy (public still overwhelmingly supports a meaningful public option).

[ Parent ]
True but (0.00 / 0)
the public option was not going to be open to most people even when it was in the bill.  Most of us were going to be forced into the private plans anyway.

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

[ Parent ]
The fact the public option (4.00 / 1)
was so watered down before being included in any bill is another issue all together.  

At least including something acknowledged that forcing everyone into a largely unregulated monopoly with no hope for competition and no mechanisms to control costs would be a disaster.

The concerns being expressed by progressives are not undermined by the fact that obama/rahm and dem leadership sold out the concept of the public option.

[ Parent ]
Not separate issues at all (0.00 / 0)
You seem to be saying that "hope for competition" would have mollified people angry about money taken from their pockets.

I call bullshit on that.  Real competition might have had that effect, but not mere "hope of competition".

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

[ Parent ]
Not saying that (0.00 / 0)
and thanks for clearly presenting the opportunity to point this out.  

The issues you seem to take exception with are being discussed upstairs in a thread by David that more clearly outlines some of the concerns expressed here.

[ Parent ]
Excuse me - I've always been concerned with the mandates - (4.00 / 1)
Please feel free to look around - I've never said nice things about the mandates.  Problem is that we have moved from just a mandate to a profit center for the Insurance Gods and that is completely unacceptable.

[ Parent ]
The people that still attack progressives on this issue know this (0.00 / 0)
Progressives can agree to disagree on any number of issues (I think you and I largely agree on these).

It is clear, however, that anyone using the word "mandate" to slander progressives for failing to get on board with this sham reform are not interested in having an honest dialog of the issue - it is clear in this thread and the one upstairs why so many are against the mandates.

Anyone that twists it in the manner that some in this thread constantly do are not being intellectually honest about it.

[ Parent ]
This is the insurance industry version of credit card reform (0.00 / 0)
its total bs...if progressives want anything done on health care in the next two decades, they wont pass this...on the other hand, if your primary concern is political legacy, and, you have good insurance (I'm sure Chris has it), go ahead, pass this turkey and lose progressives forever...Id rather lose voting nader than vote for these murdering for money basterds any day.

I have lost family members to this fricking industry and you want us to PAY them to fkill more?! You must be insane.

[ Parent ]
It is a shame to see a progressive platform (4.00 / 1)
be turned on its head - as if an individual repeatedly cherry picks the issues and data, posting "lists", that somehow the overwhelming conclusion has to be that the pundits are right.

Works on faux - not likely to work here.

Bottom line:

We were sold out and virtually nothing in this crappy bill happens until 5 years down the line.


They misrepresented their positions BEFORE being elected, sold out the process of change, and undermined reform.  And we are suppose to take their word on what may happen in 2014?

[ Parent ]
Corporate influence will increase as a result of this bill (4.00 / 3)
Their power throughout this ordeal has been nothing more than tons of bribe money.  This bill pours even more cash into their coffers.

Next time around they will have even more money and more power.

[ Parent ]
Corporate influence will increase as a result of this bill (4.00 / 1)
Their power throughout this ordeal has been nothing more than tons of bribe money.  This bill pours even more cash into their coffers.

Next time around they will have even more money and more power.

[ Parent ]
Quite to the contrary (4.00 / 3)
you're not convincing anyone with these lists of talking points.

Quite to the contrary, those progressive who argue the bill should not be killed are not convincing other progressives.. Democrats and self-identified liberals overwhelmingly want to pass the bill.

As far as whether this will be a political disaster, I wrote about that at length in the piece.  Perhaps you should respond to my arguments rather than just saying you are right no matter what.

[ Parent ]
Funny - could turn that one around 180 degrees (0.00 / 1)
Didn't see you address any of my points either and you certainly have the air of "saying you are right no matter what."

Funny world...

[ Parent ]
of course he didn't respond to your points (4.00 / 1)
you troll.  I completely agree that this bill has major issues and believe that much has to be done to fix some huge issues in conference.  

Chris, however, wrote this blog post.  It would be completely inappropriate for him to engage you in a flame war on a major blog like OpenLeft. We get it, you're really pissed off about this bill and want it killed.  But that's for us commenters and readers to discuss.  Don't attack a reliably progressive blogger for wanting to be a semi-professional and not rip into you for silly angry comments.


[ Parent ]
Just want an honest dialog (0.00 / 0)
A list of political arguments that ridicules some valid points should be challenged, framing them as "self-evident truths".

What a pity that everyone at the party doesn't agree, funny how you want to stand behind someone that complains about not responding to arguments IN ANOTHER POST while wholly dismissing or ignoring the points that others make here.

But then your silly angry comments probably justify such an approach.

[ Parent ]
Huh? (4.00 / 2)
Democrats and self-identified liberals overwhelmingly want to pass the bill.

Those opposing this bill from the left seem to be making a hell of a lot of noise for such a tiny, inconsequential minority.

I've a feeling that Democrats might feel differently about that after next year's elections.  

Democrats may well be able undermine progressives' position within the coalition, but we knock on doors, make calls, spread the word, and donate cash.

And there's no reason whatsoever we can't do all those things against the Democratic party.

That's a political ramification you don't really address.  While some progressives may indeed grow "dejected" many others, including myself, will bypass "dejection" and go straight to anger.

We've peeked behind the curtain and seen too much.  The Republican bogeyman simply isn't as scary anymore, and, for many, defeating a Democrat will become far more important than worrying about Republican control.

Democrats can undermine progressive influence in the Democratic coalition?  Granted.  But progressives can seriously damage the Democratic Party, and the Party seems determined to make that a primary objective.

[ Parent ]
My god Chris, do you think nobody is watching! (0.00 / 0)
it remains vital for Progressives and progressives to maintain a public face of outrage at the bill


[If] Progressives defeat the bill, the only different political outcome they will experience from passing the bill will be to undermine their own political position within the Democratic coalition

This is a public site.  Can you imagine the Republican 2010 candidates plastering this kind of cynical Karl Rove logic on their campaign pieces?

Full Court Press!  http://www.openleft.com/showDi...

[ Parent ]
Check the polls (0.00 / 0)
Yes it is a small vocal minority... just like the D-Baggers... I mean Tea Baggers are a small vocal minority.  Every poll since Nelson has at least 75% of Dem support to pass.    Indies are a close no and GOP are a HUGE no.    

[ Parent ]
Sorry, but you are wrong - (4.00 / 2)
Chris -

Just looking at the comments the flow is more against you than for you.

The fact is that you setup your straw men arguments then use them to tell us why we should do what the "MAN" wants -

You frankly don't deal with the consequences of this bill and its mandates - an almost cataclysmic destruction of the Democratic Party.  You think what happened to the Democratic Party in the South because of the voting rights bill was bad - its trivial next to this.  All the bill's supporters run around acting like all we need to do is get the laggards who won't take out health insurance to do so and all will be fine.  And even worse you think that if they are poor all the Gov needs to do is cough up with a few bucks and everything will be fine. This is so wrong and such a fundamental misunderstand about where many people are in this country.  They don't have the 8% or whatever to pay as tribute to Obama's Insurance Gods.  They don't have the $'s to buy their kids school supplies and you expect them magically to come up with 8% for junk insurance with 30% copays or whatever they will be!  And you are going to force them to pay a monthly tribute to the Insurance Companies to have a policy they can't afford to use anyway.  Good God if they don't hate the Democratic Party now they sure will when this wondrous bill gets through with them.  

[ Parent ]
You are talking commentors on a blog... (0.00 / 0)
Chris is using data from Polls.    Now which sample size is a bit more accurate?

[ Parent ]
"cataclysmic destruction of the Democratic party" (0.00 / 0)
Sure hope this is true! If this deformed bill can weaken the Democratic party, we should consider that at least a partial victory.

All these years trying to fix the party, without success, has convinced me it can't be done. The sooner the Democratic party gets out of the way the better for not only progressives, but (because we more accuratly represent the majority's wishes on most issues) the public in general.

Really, when was the last time the party supported us on any financial issue? A bad friend is like a bad gun....works until you need it.

Government by organized money is just as dangerous as government by organized mob..... FDR

[ Parent ]
The last bit is the most important (4.00 / 3)
It's exactly why we need to have people like Howard Dean in the debate and why we need to have his back!

Did you catch when the reporter asked Dean (4.00 / 2)
if Obama was responsible for killing the public option?

He said simply and truthfully "Yes."

[ Parent ]
I think this is basically sound (4.00 / 2)
I think it's perfectly possible (and necessary) to be angry at the way the Democrats have been handling this, without turning on those Democrats who have decided not to kill the bill.

I think it's perfectly possible (and necessary) to accept the crumbs in the bill passed without letting the Rahm Emanuels of the world strut like peacocks over their great victory without challenge.

I'm curious, Chris, about one thing you haven't said.  

I think it's perfectly possible (and necessary) to be angry at the Democrats without giving the Republicans a free pass.  The white-hot anger at the Democratic leadership stems, I think stems from all the lame excuses about 60 votes, masking and covering for the traitors in their midst, which goes all the way up to Obama.

Too often I hear "what do you expect from Republicans"?     This overlooks that it is the solid rock wall of GOP intransigence that gives the traitor Dems their magic powers.  To me, it is no more and no less important to knock off a Blanche Lincoln then to knock off any Republican.  Any Republican who CAN be punished for their intransigent stance on Health Care SHOULD be punished for their stance on Health Care.  If there's no essential difference between Joe Lieberman and a Republican then any hurt we can put on either is ultimately good.

A poster on FDL and I thrashed this out a few weeks ago.  His stance was "let the DNC go after red state Republicans.  We'll go after the Blanche Lincolns."  But if you leave it up to the DNC, you'll get another Blue Dog at best.  I think progressives need to think about where we can run a kamikaze progressive to take on a Republican, vigorously, with foursquare support for real health care reform, and populist economics, and we should be looking for such opportunities.

We should not resign ourselves to playing only defense in 2010.  We will have to play defense, but we should also look for places where we can play offense.

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

Nurses explain how health bill could make crisis worse (4.00 / 1)
The newly-formed nurses' "mega-union" has issued a scathing indictment of the Senate health bill expected to be voted on this week, calling it a "deeply flawed" piece of legislation that could make the US health care system's problems worse.

National Nurses United, the US's largest nurses' union since it was formed earlier this month, issued a statement Monday implying that it doesn't support the health care reform bill championed by the White House and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

These people should know, though it is funny how some pundits with virtually no experience or expertise with how the system works will deny what nurses say.

Who ya gonna believe - obama, dem leadership, and others that literally took MILLIONS of dollars from the corporate insurance/healthcare monopolies or the folks that work with patients (often underpaid) each and every day?

Um... (0.00 / 0)
The AMA endorsed the bill though.  So now you are pitting on medical group against another.     I can tell you which the public through their own prejudices will pick in that fight and it isn't the nursing union.  

While I don't think its the case, the cynic in me could also say that the Nusing Union doesn't like the cadillac tax plan (of which I'd agree with them) either.   How much does that play into their decision?

[ Parent ]
yeah right... (0.00 / 0)
You can show me the public overwhelmingly supports AMA instead of the people that actually do the hard/dirty work.

Dream on, buddy...

[ Parent ]
Overwhelmingly, the public respects NURSES (0.00 / 0)
more than doctors.  This is a well known fact.

[ Parent ]
The politics (4.00 / 4)
Personally, I recognize that the progressives, even if combined with the tea baggers, aren't enough to stop this bill.  Obama wants it, and the Democrats ever willing to give Bush everything he wanted are not going to deny the leader of their own party.  The outrage™ can, at best, hope to wring a few more concessions to go in the bill, or pull/dilute a known horror from the bill.

On the policy side, Jon Walker at FDL has been doing yeoman's work pointing out the myriad ways the bill could be improved.  On the politics, I think Chris has it.

Truth is, as we know and have been educated by the realities to understand, this bill isn't much on reform.  Not unlike finance regulation (I put my tongue in my cheek), nothing has been solved.  We know this.  It is all going to implode again.  The question is when, not if.  So, on the policy and political side, the energy needs to be directed towards what can be done in the interim before the truly unsustainable nature of our health care system is known and understood by a good many more people.  Our jobless recovery may make it happen sooner, or perhaps people will need to live with the current legislation for awhile to find out how well it doesn't fit.  Sooner or later (my money is on sooner), health care reform will have to be undertaken.  At that time, maybe some genuine health insurance reform will be obliged to follow.

Ergo, I am making as much noise as possible about how deeply I hate this bill with my Democratic Senators and Congressional Representative.  I'm emailing and calling their staffers to raise bloody hell and insisting they consider some of Jon Walker's improvements.  At the same time I recognize, this baby will very likely pass.  And, for the reasons Chris stipulates, it probably should - strictly, on the political merits.  There just ain't enough of us (out of 304 million people) to want something different.

Gradually, the Democrats are desensitizing me of my severe allergy to slow motion train wrecks.

Why would we reach out to the Libertarians (4.00 / 1)
to scuttle the welfare state?

We ought to start with issues of mutual concern:

1) Empire

2) Financial aristocracy

3) The police / surveillance state

4) The war on drugs

They would be smart to peel off Progressives (or fellow-travelers) for their purposes; another reason to preemptively reach out so as to steer the process rather than stupidly playing catch-up.

Imagine if the GOP ran a Ron Paul type in 2012 after Obama's malpractice: it would be Reagan all over again.

[ Parent ]
Gotta take issue with this (4.00 / 3)
In this case, at best, one-quarter of the Democratic base is behind defeating the bill from the left.  That isn't enough, and would put any Progressive defying the leadership on this in a weaker position, not a stronger one.

I assume you're referring to this polling question:

If oppose: Do you oppose that bill because you think its approach toward health care is too liberal, or because you think its approach toward health care is not liberal enough? (results combined with previous question)

42% Favor
39% Oppose, Too liberal
13% Oppose, Not liberal enough

This is people projecting their own political views (where they see themselves in the political spectrum), not a reflection of policies included or not included in the Senate bill (something I'd venture most respondents had no specific knowledge about*). Furthermore, most Dems approve of health care reform, which leaves them significantly undersampled here.

Meanwhile, when you look at the specific reasons for progressive opposition they have broad support.

While voters oppose the health care plan, they back two options cut from the Senate bill, supporting 56 - 38 percent giving people the option of coverage by a government health insurance plan and backing 64 - 30 percent allowing younger people to buy into Medicare.

Frankly, I'd argue that the progressive caucus is missing a huge opportunity to show that it speaks for and represents the majority of the people. They're missing a chance to bust out of the "liberal" caricature. But the bottom line is they're all spent. They all just want this to be over, policy and the people's desires be damned. Hash through all the 10-point or 20-point pro/con lists you want, fatigue is the sole reason there's no fight left in either house of Congress.

* "By 73 - 18 percent, voters don't believe President Obama will be able to keep his promise to overhaul health care without increasing the federal deficit..." That's the level of knowledge the general public has about these bills.

Self-refuting Christine O'Donnell is proof monkeys are still evolving into humans

Boy that Q=Poll is all over the place... (0.00 / 0)
My god... I mean the results contradict themselves on several questions.  

Anyway, I think Chris meant this...

Looking at the health care plan, independent voters "mostly disapprove" 58 - 30 percent, as do Republicans 83 - 10 percent. Democrats "mostly approve" 64 - 22 percent.

I have seen several polls which had dems supporting passing the bill at 75% or higher.  This is the first I have seen at 64% but that is still a significant amount.  Chris's point remains.

[ Parent ]
Respectfully... (0.00 / 0)
...the numbers you cite are not in the poll that Chris cites/links to, so I don't see how they could be what he was referring to. As to the numbers you cite, the fact the 65-75 of Dems "mostly approve" does not necessarily mean they would not support efforts to improve the bill, even if those efforts require some brinkmanship. Frankly, Dems are desperate for their leaders to show some spine and fight.

The outrage of Lieberman's tantrum followed almost immediately by the WH cave, followed now by the House rolling over just reinforce that there still isn't 'one honest-to-God Democratic leader with a full set of balls.'

Self-refuting Christine O'Donnell is proof monkeys are still evolving into humans

[ Parent ]
I'll let National Nurses United speak for me (4.00 / 1)
National Nurses United, the nation's largest registered nurses union and professional organization, declared on Tuesday that the Senate health care bill gives away too much to insurance companies and "fails to meet the test of true health care reform."

"It is tragic to see the promise from Washington this year for genuine, comprehensive reform ground down to a seriously flawed bill that could actually exacerbate the health care crisis and financial insecurity for American families, and that cedes far too much additional power to the tyranny of a callous insurance industry," said co-president Karen Higgins in a statement.

"Sadly, we have ended up with legislation that fails to meet the test of true health care reform, guaranteeing high quality, cost effective care for all Americans, and instead are further locking into place a system that entrenches the chokehold of the profit-making insurance giants on our health. If this bill passes, the industry will become more powerful and could be beyond the reach of reform for generations," she added.

Note how those that favor passage never will talk about: (4.00 / 4)
1.  What these nurses have stood up for

2.  The bill is a sham that covers obama/rahm's butt until 2014.  There is no reason to believe any of that bill will be intact FIVE YEARS FROM NOW and after 2012 when obama is either a lame duck or out of office entirely.

[ Parent ]
Nope... (0.00 / 0)
He really doesn't.  Sadly, neither do you.

[ Parent ]
... (0.00 / 0)
1) And you ignore the AMA's endorsement of the bill...

2) Obama will be in his second term after 2012.    

[ Parent ]
Don't ignore - don't put the stock in it you do (0.00 / 0)
And doubt the public does either.

Obama in office after 2012?  Perhaps, but that's exactly why bill was written to avoid accountability until them.

Of course, if 40 percent of dems stay home, he won't be in office and if younger and first time voters stay home, he is REALLY out of office!

[ Parent ]
Obama will NEVER win a second term! (0.00 / 0)
As one who was a passionate follower and who worked and contributed to his first campaign, I now hate his guts.  There are many more like me, who realize he is only a giant Con Man, and who will work to defeat him.

He is no better than Bush, and he could never win again.  His BASE will work against him!

[ Parent ]
Prevent the Obstructionists from drawing first blood (4.00 / 1)
in order to salvage what we can of 2010.

The essential justification.

The damage already done by leading with the weak hand of health care reform can be undone facilely by picking up the class war banner of Main Street.

The damage that will be done by mandates can be undone by stripping them out, or by the fact that this bill will not come into effect till '14 or ever.

Neutering of the House (4.00 / 3)
My pet issue, I'll concede, but to me the overriding political issue is the Senate hostage taking and the effective elimination of the House as a co-equal chamber of the Legislature. The House has one card to play -- its consent. The House is, in effect, the 61st Senator in a 61 vote world.

I understand fatigue is keeping them from pressing the issue now (sadly, a lost opportunity when the need for their '61st vote' in a must pass environment gives them enormous leverage), but the House progressive caucus and the body itself will be irrelevant until they deal with this issue head on.

Self-refuting Christine O'Donnell is proof monkeys are still evolving into humans

Agreed... (0.00 / 0)
Filibuster Reform DESPERATELY needed.

[ Parent ]
Yes, but... (4.00 / 2)
...the House can't simply stand by and wait for the Senate to change. It must affirmatively defend itself as an institution.  

Self-refuting Christine O'Donnell is proof monkeys are still evolving into humans

[ Parent ]
Agreed (0.00 / 0)
This is one of my pet issues too, but I'm not sure how to address it effectively without some kind of Constitutional ruling or clarification/change.  The Senate is completely ignoring/defying Article 1, Section 7 on a regular basis now.  The strange thing is that I never hear complaints from Spkr. Pelosi about it.  In fact, the last time I heard her broach this subject was when she said she would insist that the Senate pass the HCR bill first (I think she was talking about after conference).

[ Parent ]
the "progressive bloc", such as it is, (4.00 / 5)
is going to suffer the same fate that Kerry did on his vote on the AUMF.

You'll remember he voted yes, but objected to the way in which the war was actually managed.

Did that nuanced explanation help him? No. The GOP simply tarred him as a flip-flopper, a weak, waffling fellow who didn't even know what he supported.

And that's exactly what will happen here. Those progressives who vote yes, but then register lengthy, nuanced explanations of how they wanted a better bill but went along because they felt it would "give something to build on" (a canard I have come to detest), will be caricatured by the GOP as weak, stupid fools who don't know their own minds.

Should those progressives later attempt to come out against the bill, they'll be met with cries of "Bullshit! All you're trying to do is cover your ass and duck responsibility for this POS bill! You voted for it when that was the popular thing to do, and now that it's turned out to be unpopular you're trying to weasel out! Coward! Flip-flopper!"

And you know what, the GOP will be right. Because if the progressives were halfway serious, they wouldn't be signaling their willingness to capitulate up front, instead they would be playing hardball at every step and threatening to kill the bill, just as Stupak et. al. are.

But they're not serious, and yet they want credit for good intentions--which is exactly what the claim of "flip-flopper" is getting at. So they mumble meaningless and half-hearted objections, with the hope that people will give them credit for those objections rather than focus on their voting record.

As with the Iraq war, if you hope to have any credibility whatsoever afterwards, you're going to have to be a vocal critic of the current bill--and vote no if it goes through essentially unchanged. The GOP will automatically have that credibility because they're opposed to anything the Democrats might pass. It remains to be seen whether any Democrats (Dean possibly excepted) will also have that credibility.


Well... (0.00 / 0)
Kerry also had the misfortune of giving the GOP one of the worst sound bites possible "I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it."   The GOP didn't even have to make this one up like they did with Gore's Internet phrase.. http://www.snopes.com/quotes/i...

The other thing was Kerry took a vacation and LET the GOP sell the meme.   Every fucking politician flip flops on issues.    Kerry had that ridiculous sound bite and took time off and didn't do anything to fight the meme until it was too late.    

The only way that happens to the House Progressives is if they let it.   A simple "I supported it at the time, but since then I have come to disagree with parts of the bill and feel they need to be improved." will mitigate that attack.... but then STICK WITH IT.  Don't waffle on it after you say it needs to be improved.   People can buy compromise... not waffling.

[ Parent ]
Declare a Victory, then come back for more (4.00 / 1)
I agree with Chris's conclusions, and Krugman makes a lot of sense.

Whatever the flaws, we are getting a huge expansion of the social safety net. This HCR bill institutionalizes the idea that Health Insurance needs to be universal. We need to lock in that expansion, and make it suicide for a politician to beat it back down: "Don't you dare take away my health insurance!"

We basically have three political power blocks in the legislature: Republicans, Corporate Dems, and Real Dems. The Conservative Corporate Dems effectively hold the balance of the power, which is the obvious reason we aren't getting a better bill.

2010 and 2012 Elections

But, this balance of power is destined to change after the next two elections. I'm guessing we'll be free of Lieberman, and we'll lose some of the Blue Dogs and Conserva-Dems.

Even if the Republicans pick up a few seats, I'm guessing that a Senate without Lieberman, Nelson and ??, would be quite ripe for a rules change to reduce the power of the filibuster.

How can we run on expanding/improving in 2010 and 2012 (4.00 / 1)
when obama/rahm and dem leadership guarenteed they could not be held accountable by kicking the bill out until 2014!

If this POS passes, it will all be mute those election cycles because they can just lie about the "wonderful" things yet to come.

And if anyone really believes those "goodies" are forthcoming, you haven't been paying attention.

Millions were spent to derail healthcare reform in the past few months alone.  The corpocracy got what it wanted.  They now have 5 years (and many millions more) to get more before 2014!

[ Parent ]
We pocket the money on the table... (4.00 / 1)
and then we ante up for the next game.

Passage of this bill merely sets us up for the beginning of the next stage. Ultimately, we need to remove the ability of the Corporate/Conservadems to block the progressives.

THAT is the political reality.

The single most fundamental talking point is that "The Democratic Party believes in health insurance for everyone, and the Republicans and ConservaDems are against it."

THAT is powerful framing.

[ Parent ]
Sorry, but the 2014 date belies you point (0.00 / 0)
Dems did not send a message that they believe "in health insurance for everyone" and they have structured this bill so that they are not held accountable in 2010 or 2012.

[ Parent ]
Which Side Are You On? (0.00 / 0)
The HCR fight has provided ample evidence indicating which Dems are in the pocket of big Insurance, and which are advocates for consumers.

It isn't just a single issue problem. Let's see how they vote on any Jobs Creation bills. Two strikes, and why don't you join the Republican Party.

[ Parent ]
Two strikes - check the instant replay... (0.00 / 0)
we got sold out on virtually EVERYTHING, bailouts, wall street instead of mainstreet, torture, privacy, endless war in the middle east, you name it.

And now some advocate allowing them to dodge responsibility for FAILING (by obama's one standards for reform (irrefutable video link) a few months ago!)

If you only have counted 2-strikes, you mistakenly called a few strikes "balls".

[ Parent ]
Who's the umpire? (0.00 / 0)
I submit that public opinion is what counts on these issues. I single out Health Care reform and Jobs because they are the most direct measure of Corporate vs Consumer. People are angry about those two issues, and that anger feeds the Progressive dimension.

You suggest the bailout, and I agree somewhat. The Wall-street vs Main-street is good framing. The difficulty is that a lot of people don't exactly understand the financial crisis. Focussing on jobs is a little more personal.

The expansion of the war is a real issue, but doesn't quite help us with our problem. It might work as a bludgeon, but distracts from the economic issues.  

[ Parent ]
Don't kid yourself - TRILLIONS FOR ENDLESS WAR (0.00 / 0)
is what took any real reform "off the table" before the dialog even started.

[ Parent ]
I'd seperate the... (0.00 / 0)
Tea bagging GOP from the Corporate GOP.  They don't like each other all that much... and the Theocons might even be a seperate wing from the tea  baggers.

[ Parent ]
off topic (0.00 / 0)
I'd appreciate it if you would, when you swoop in and troll rate me, at least leave a comment telling me what you found so egregious.  I'm not some random troll.  I've been here for a long time and have been supportive of this community.

[ Parent ]
Things really go off the rails (2.00 / 2)
when you can't be honest about a bill.

And this post is off the rails.  Hardly recognize you, Chris.

Patent attempt to justify a sell-out (0.00 / 0)
Not sure what that says, but when someone tells you they are going to give  you a list of arguments for and against blah blah blah...

Prepare yourself for a stream of formless feces.  It all starts with a dubious assumption that each point is equally weighted, so it is obvious what the course of action should be.

But often degrades into subtle slight of hand to outright misrepresentations.  The intention of the writer does not really matter because the format of the presentation is designed to favor one side over another.

Glad you noticed it and felt you could speak up - not tolerated on some threads you know.

[ Parent ]
Honest/Schmonest (4.00 / 2)
If you want to debate the policy of the bill, this is not an article for you.  Instead, I am going to set policy aside for a moment and look at a list of the various political arguments for passing or defeating the bill.

It's kind of weird to read this discussion about sell-outs, fairness, honesty, etc. when CB made it plain that his post was about the political machinery, (the moving parts), and not about the policy, (the content).

USA: 1950 to 2010

[ Parent ]
And since when are (0.00 / 0)
"sell-outs, fairness, honesty" and the overall undermining of the "moving parts" (as you define political machinery) NOT part of that dialog?!?!?!?!

As a result of the "moving parts" the "content"/policy is crap - but it is directly because of the corrupted process (political machinery/moving parts)

[ Parent ]
s-os, f & h . . . . (4.00 / 1)
What do these qualities have to do with Chris's, or anybody else's, analysis of power?

Do you want people with Progressive values to accumulate power in America, or not?

If you do, then what do you think of Chris's analysis of this sucky moment?

One take away that I get is that Progs need a "Nelson/Lieberman", somebody that could intimidate establishment Dem's because they might just walk away from the table.  Maybe Sanders, or Feingold, or Brown.

Except, the situation is even suckier than that because we are in a place where whether there is a bill, or no bill, or even a better bill, whatever happens is not going to satisfy the electorate.

Basically, Progressives have to distinguish themselves as Progressives: continue to threaten to walk away from the center-right coalition, continue to speak and fight for popular Progressive positions, and hold-out for the new opportunities the world will offer.  

USA: 1950 to 2010

[ Parent ]
And when talking about the political machinery (0.00 / 0)
it's fair to observe how twisted things can get when a bill becomes as twisted and questionable as this HCR bill has become.

There is not one Congressional Democrat who can really speak honestly in public about this bill.  And they are having a really difficult time selling it right now, are sticking to strict talking points, and just shoving this thing too, (ginormous) warts and all.  In fact, IMHO, the thing is nothing but warts.

Have you been listening to the interviews and press conferences with Senators lately?  Even the president is having a hard time and just yesterday claimed that he never campaigned on the public option.

[ Parent ]
While I think your observations are sound . . . (0.00 / 0)
they stray from the subject of the thread.  

His post is about trying to predict the outcomes that might follow from a range of positions movement Progressives could take as HCR heads to conference.  The question is whether his predictions are valid or not.

I don't mean to pick on you.   It's just that by the time I got to the bottom of the thread I was frustrated with how much distracting personal vitriol and off-topic noise I'd read.

OpenLeft is a better, more insightful Progressive strategy forum when folks aren't using it simply as a sounding board for their discontents either with the American political system or other personalities that post here.  

USA: 1950 to 2010

[ Parent ]
Yes, Chris (0.00 / 0)
as you ask in one comment...to those of us who will still not be able to afford insurance, or, have a loved one who will die under corporate insurance, how can any other fight matter, if we're dead.


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