Last week it looked like a Medicare buy-in compromise
could save the public option
, but failure to secure the votes--thanks to some serious opposition work
by Sen. Joe Lieberman--appears to have killed the public option for
good. After many months of wrangling (and the successful passage of the public option in the House), liberals are unsurprisingly frustrated
But a new consensus is on emerging on the left that, although the loss
of the public option is a short-term defeat, it produces long-term victory by making health care reform more likely. There's an
element of spin here; after all, many liberals have spent close to a
year fervently demanding a public option. But could they have a case?
- Lose The Battle, Win The War The Washington Post's Ezra Klein explains. "A lot of progressives woke up this morning feeling like they lost.
They didn't. The public option and its compromised iterations were a
battle that came to seem like a war. But they weren't the war. The bill
- 'Why Progressives Are Batshit Crazy to Oppose the Senate Bill' Nate Silver crunches the numbers
and finds that a hypothetical family earning $54,000/year would pay
$19,576 for health insurance in 2016 if nothing changes. But with the
Senate legislation (sans public option), that drops to $9,000. "I
understand that most of the liberal skepticism over the Senate bill is
well intentioned. But it has become way, way
off the mark. Where do you think the $800 billion goes? It goes to
low-income families just like these. Where do you think it comes from?
We won't know for sure until the Senate and House produce their
conference bill, but it comes substantially from corporations and
high-income earners, plus some efficiency gains."
- Would Still Make History Matthew Yglesias praises
the legislation even without a public option or Medicare buy-in. "If
Barack Obama signs it into law, he’ll go down as the president with
the most progressive legislative accomplishments since Lyndon Johnson.
You’ll say that the American welfare state was inaugurated by FDR,
substantially expanded by Johnson, and given its final shape by Obama,"
he writes. "As it stands, the level-playing field public option took a
the team. And consequently, millions of currently uninsured Americans
are closer than ever to having insurance and the rest of us are closer
than ever to having a sense of security that if our own insurance goes
away we won’t be left high and dry."
PO Debate Protected Rest of Reform The New Republic's Jonathan Cohn praises liberal Senators who "simply care too much about people struggling with their medical
bills--people who would still benefit, clearly, from reform without a
public option--to mount further resistance." He writes, "Disappointed progressives may be wondering whether their efforts were a
waste. They most decidedly were not. The campaign for the public option
pushed the entire debate to the left--and, to use a military metaphor,
it diverted enemy fire away from the rest of the bill. If Lieberman and
his allies didn't have the public option to attack, they would have
tried to gut the subsidies, the exchanges, or some other key element.
They would have hacked away at the bill, until it left more people
uninsured and more people under-insured. The public option is the
reason that didn't happen."
High Expectations Reflect Rise of Left Mother Jones's Kevin Drum talks tough. "[L]iberals who now want to pick up their toys and hand reform its sixth
defeat in the past century need to wake up and smell the decaf.
Politics sucks. It always has. But the bill in front of us—messy,
incomplete, and replete with bribes to every interest group
imaginable—is still well worth passing," he writes. "Ten years ago this bill would have seemed a godsend. The fact that it
doesn't now is a reflection of higher aspirations from the left, and
that's great. It demonstrates a resurgence of liberalism that's long
overdue. But this is still a huge achievement that will benefits tens
of millions of people in very concrete ways and will do it without
expanding our long-term deficit."
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