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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

A Moment of Truth for Centrist Dems

Please, all moderate, centrist and conservative Democrats, take a few minutes to read Paul Krugman’s op-ed. “The Defining Moment ” in The New York Times, and then take a few more minutes for honest self-reflection. History is calling, and there may not be another chance to do so much to help so many people, whose very lives are at stake for a long long time. As Krugman explains:

…Everyone in the political class — by which I mean politicians, people in the news media, and so on, basically whoever is in a position to influence the final stage of this legislative marathon — now has to make a choice. The seemingly impossible dream of fundamental health reform is just a few steps away from becoming reality, and each player has to decide whether he or she is going to help it across the finish line or stand in its way.
…The people who really have to make up their minds, then, are those in between, the self-proclaimed centrists….Senator Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut says, “I want to be able to vote for a health bill, but my top concern is the deficit.” That would be a serious objection to the proposals currently on the table if they would, in fact, increase the deficit. But they wouldn’t, at least according to the Congressional Budget Office, which estimates that the House bill, in particular, would actually reduce the deficit by $100 billion over the next decade.
…I won’t try to psychoanalyze the “naysayers,”…I’d just urge them to take a good hard look in the mirror. If they really want to align themselves with the hard-line conservatives, if they just want to kill health reform, so be it. But they shouldn’t hide behind claims that they really, truly would support health care reform if only it were better designed.
For this is the moment of truth. The political environment is as favorable for reform as it’s likely to get. The legislation on the table isn’t perfect, but it’s as good as anyone could reasonably have expected. History is about to be made — and everyone has to decide which side they’re on.

Health care reform legislation, because of its complexity, will never be perfect for anyone. But nothing will pass if moderates insist on having their way about every single aspect of health reform. Legislation to improve on the consensus bill can be passed later on, when problems become evident. It’s a work in progress. History is calling. Who will answer the call?

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