In two separate entries, here and here, Chris Bowers discussed what he feels are the likely consequences if the nightmare bill now in the Senate doesn’t pass. He’s assumed the worst-case scenarios in every one of them, it seems, and is using them as an excuse to say we shouldn’t kill the health care reform bill in the Senate.
This to me is an utterly defeatist attitude to take. We shouldn’t fight this because Rahm will run right-wing primary opponents against our people, something he’s already been doing for years and will do no matter what, and that’s why we should give up now? With all due respect to Mr. Bowers, this is neither realistic or helpful. I don’t think the people who are telling us we need to pass this bill realize what the public really thinks about health care reform or the likelihood that we will end up with something that will force us to buy unaffordable junk insurance under penalty of increased taxation we can’t afford to pay — all without doing a thing to bring down costs.
I think we have the Democrats by the gonads here, but how many of us really know it? Every single member of the House is up for reelection next year, as is a third of the Senate. Why can we not call them up and threaten to withdraw all support — money, votes, and campaign volunteers — if they don’t kill this bill and pass something acceptable, and then follow through on it?
We need leaders in the progressive movement, but we don’t seem to have any. Not here, not at Kos, not at any of the other blogs, and certainly not in Congress (with the exception of Dennis Kucinich, but most people — even folk on the nominal left — treat him like a clown). This too is unacceptable. If we don’t fight this monstrosity now, what will we fight for? The realistic scenarios are thus:
1.) Progressives roll over and the bill passes. Rahm Emanuel runs right-wing candidates against progressives in next year’s primaries anyway. We lose more ground because we’re not fighting and playing hardball, and the public doesn’t support politicians who don’t fight on its behalf. Worse, there will be no fixing the law later, because Dems will probably be out of power for a good long time after next year and even if they keep it, the excuse will be that they’ve already done reform, so why bother going through another year of hell trying to pass a fix?
2.) The bill passes, but progressives are seen fighting it with everything they have to the bitter end. The conservative Dems lose their seats, most progressives keep theirs, and therefore have a chance of increasing their numbers going into 2012.
3.) The bill fails, we get to start over from scratch. This is not the nightmare scenario some people seem to think it is. As early as February, polls were showing a majority of Americans in favor of single-payer health insurance (Source). As recently as July, Kaiser polling was showing 58% support (Source), and if you go state by state, you’ll find that support is high (like in Pennsylvania). Finally, pnhp.org has posted a six-part series showing that 2/3 of Americans really do support single payer or a public plan closer to it.* So the chances of voters punishing Democrats for failing to pass a massive bailout of the insurance industry are actually quite low. Chances are, however, quite high for retribution at the ballot box next year if Dems pass the monster as-is. We have nothing to lose by killing the bill, and a lot to gain.
There really is nothing to be gained by giving in on the health care reform battle. This close to an election year in which the public is good and angry, and we’re not going to seize the opportunity to force the conservative wing of the party to blink and do as we say? If we fail to do this, then we really do deserve to be out of power.
So here’s the House Phone Directory and that of the Senate. Call them up and demand that the insurance bailout dies a horrible flaming screaming death, and passage of something good, or else no money or votes next year. Not one penny, not one ballot, goes to any Democrat who votes in favor of passing the bill. We can do this. We just need the will.
*: Here are the links to the series on single payer support.