Current proposals for health care reform--especially Senator Max
Baucus's moderate plan--include no public option, which many liberals
have long considered the sina qua non of successful reform. But Baucus's plan does
appear to have a very real chance of getting passed, stirring a civil war among liberals. Should the
party accept these reforms while they can get them or continue to push
for the much-lauded public option? Both sides agree on one thing:
nothing less than the fate of the party in 2010 is at stake.
- Abandon Public Option for the Long Game The New Republic's Jonathan Chait conceded
that current reform plans are imperfect. But Chait argued they're worth
accepting and that "sullen" liberals who wanted more should see the
long game. "The distance between the status quo and the ideal is
therefore so vast that we could—and probably will—end up with a reform
that massively improves the system, while coming nowhere close to the
ideal," he wrote, calling it "one of the towering social reforms in
Chait compared current health care
proposals with the original Social Security Act, which included neither
disability benefits nor coverage for African-Americans, but eventually
became the robust program we know today. "The important point was
setting a new societal expectation of what constituted basic economic
rights, which, over time, would be filled in so that the reality met
- Only a Public Option Will Be Effective Gene Lyons warned,
"Democrats could be slow-walking into political disaster" by embracing
shoddy reforms that will drive up costs. "A surer way to stoke a
right-wing populist rebellion can't be imagined," he wrote, warning
that a mandate without cost controls will mean "thousands of bucks out
of the pockets of people who've already decided they can't afford
insurance." Lyons quoted Howard Dean, who said he insisted on a public
option "Because it's the only thing that works." Lyon asked, "Is that
because Dean's a left-wing ideologue? No, it's because he's a doctor."
- Liberals Must Pressure Dems for Public Option Digby denounced
Democrats who support BaucusCare as allowing a "regressive tax on their
own constituents." She blamed insufficient political pressure on
liberal Democrats to push for a public option. Even if the health care
reform that passes is terrible, she wrote, "They won't personally lose
their jobs. Even if the whole progressive
philosophy is discredited and millions of people turn to the
alternative it has no bearing on them. They carry on no matter who is
in the majority or in the White House. Many of them are in the
leadership themselves, so there is no pressure to work for the greater
good of the party as a whole. The problem seems to be that political
considerations and consequences are irrelevant to the political system.
What do we do about that?"
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