Friday, December 18, 2009
This is not the way I expected it to turn out. No public option, no Medicare buy –in for people 55-64. But I don’t want to kill the bill.
I spend too much time reading liberal/ progressive blogs and am dismayed by how many on the left are making the argument that it’s better to scuttle this bill.
Many thanks to Nate Silver who kept me from falling into this defeatist way of thinking! One of my Facebook friends alerted me to
His 20 Questions for Bill Killers
Silver convinced me that passing this bill is so much better than starting over. Among his most compelling points:
8. How many years is it likely to be before Democrats again have (i) at least as many non-Blue Dog seats in the Congress as they do now, and (ii) a President in the White House who would not veto an ambitious health care bill?
11. Would base voters be less likely to turn out in 2010 if no health care plan is passed at all, rather than a reasonable plan without a public option?
[An aside: Nate Silver got me through the 2008 general election. Whenever I stated to panic, I went to fivethirtyeight.com and Nate’s solid, fact-based analysis calmed me down. Silver demonstrated that electoral arithmetic was clearly in Obama’s favor and that helped me get beyond the headline of the day.]
Silver’s arguments helped and a little bit of history helps. Major social reform has always been piecemeal. In order to get the votes to pass social security, FDR made a devil’s bargain with Southern Democrats to exclude domestic workers and share croppers, effectively excluding the majority of African-Americans.
In many ways the New Deal was racist, but it established the principle that the elderly were entitled to financial support. In the 1950’s the laws were amended to ensure that the principle applied to all workers. (Those who had been excluded from social security or their descendants should have been compensated.)
Medicare was similarly a work in progress, with prescription drug coverage not included. Medicare established the principle that the elderly were entitled to health care, but it took forty years for prescription drug coverage to be included, and even then, the prescription drug coverage passed during the Bush administration was deeply flawed. We are still working on fixing that one.
Killing the bill will kill reform for the foreseeable future and kill more of our fellow citizens who are dying for lack of health care.
And from Bill Clinton:
“Take it from someone who knows: these chances don't come around every day. Allowing this effort to fall short now would be a colossal blunder -- both politically for our party and, far more important, for the physical, fiscal, and economic health of our country."
Maybe Obama and the Democrats could have fought harder, fought smarter but the archaic senate rules have stacked the deck against change. It’s time to get rid of the filibuster and the 60 vote threshold required.
So I’m reconciled (sort of) to passing this flawed bill as a first step and trying to talk myself into a "don’t mourn, organize!” mind set.
I’m going to work like crazy to make sure the people who came out for Obama in 2008 come out in 2010 to give the president the votes he needs to fix this bill. Too bad Lieberman doesn’t come up for re-election until 2012.