So now that the public option and 55-plus Medicare are out of the healthcare bill, should they just kill the whole thing, as the once and former next president of the United States Howard Dean is arguing?
On one hand, that seems like a terrible idea, since the worthwhile things that are still in the legislation -- limiting insurance companies on denying coverage, subsidies for low-income insurance buyers, and a menu of other improvements to healthcare -- would be thrown out with the bathwater. On the other hand, every American would be required by law by buy crappy insurance from crappy private companies -- including one based right here in our city! -- without a public plan or tough-enough legislation to keep them in check. (And, no, it's not "just like car insurance.") Call my crazy, but that sounds like bad policy (not to mention bad politics for the Dems, for what that's worth).
So what to do? Time is running short, but if there's going to be a halfway decent bill then someone -- and someone who strikes me as a good candidate would be President Barack Obama -- needs to get out there, roll up his sleeves, and fight. I don't normally like to quote anonymous people, but since Josh Marshall vouches for him I'll go on the record agreeing with this guy:
I know there's been a lot of game theory from people about how that would never work, etc. But the fact is that you can show leadership for big ideas and there's always still room to compromise at the end. At least then it would be clear that there was no other way, that you put up the good fight, better luck next time.
Instead they feel like the people they voted for and trusted to lead them failed. And it's hard to imagine making that same emotional commitment again in the future. Self defeating, yes. Temporary, maybe. But we're talking primal stuff here - people don't like wimps, not matter what party.
Heck, even Andy Stern of the SEIU -- in the Department of Things to Make Glenn Beck's Head Explode -- is criticizing the president:
President Obama must remember his own words from the campaign. His call of "Yes We Can" was not just to us, not just to the millions of people who voted for him, but to himself. We all stood shoulder to shoulder with the President during his hard fought campaign. And, we will continue to stand with him but he must fight for the reform we all know is possible.
That's right -- get out there and fight, fight, fight for a plan that helps real people and not big insurance, and then see what's left when all the dust settles. If it's something worth passing, great, and if not...back to the drawing board, although let's be honest, the next chance for real healthcare wouldn't be 2010, but more like 2024. And some Americans won't be healthy enough to live to see it.