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Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Bloggers Make Case for HCR Compromise

Former DNC head Howard Dean may have ample support for his opposition to the latest Senate version of health care reform, but there are plenty of progressive bloggers and columnists who see it differently. Some examples:
At The New York Times, Paul Krugman’s “Pass the Bill” makes a tightly-crafted case for progressives supporting the latest compromise:

But let’s all take a deep breath, and consider just how much good this bill would do, if passed — and how much better it would be than anything that seemed possible just a few years ago. With all its flaws, the Senate health bill would be the biggest expansion of the social safety net since Medicare, greatly improving the lives of millions. Getting this bill would be much, much better than watching health care reform fail.
At its core, the bill would do two things. First, it would prohibit discrimination by insurance companies on the basis of medical condition or history: Americans could no longer be denied health insurance because of a pre-existing condition, or have their insurance canceled when they get sick. Second, the bill would provide substantial financial aid to those who don’t get insurance through their employers, as well as tax breaks for small employers that do provide insurance.

Jonathan Cohn of The New Republic also believes the bill is a significant improvement, “…light years better than what we have now.” In his MyDD post on former President Clinton’s support of the bill, Jonathan Singer explains “This bill isn’t perfect, but it may be the best chance at reforming the system that there will be for a long, long time. .” WaPo columnist
WaPo columnist E. J. Dionne, Jr. agrees
, noting,

…There is one thing that must be done fast: Democrats need to agree on a health bill and sell it with enthusiasm and conviction. Their own turmoil and back-stabbing are making what is a rather good plan look like a failure while convincing political independents that they are a feuding gang rather than a governing party.

At TPM Cafe Roger Hickey, co-director of the Campaign for America’s Future, supports voting for the current version as the second step in a 3-part effort :

Here’s my position. In these final days of the health care fight, progressives should work hard to improve the health reform bill in the Senate and in the conference with the (better) House bill. But we should support the passage of the best bill we can get – and then keep fighting for more and better reform.

Ezra Klein sees it this way at his WaPo blog:

But now we’re talking about killing the Senate health-care bill — with its $900 billion in subsidies and its delivery system reforms and its Medicare Commission and its Medicaid expansion and its exchanges and its regulations on insurers — unless we make the exchanges slightly stronger prudent purchasers, when they’re already strong enough to “thrill” the original sponsor of the prudent purchaser amendment?
I guess this is the logical outcome of a system in which the greatest gains accrue to those making the most credible and severe threats. But it’s not healthy.

At FiveThirtyEight.com, Nate Silver’s “Health Care:The Elevator Pitch” takes a more persuasive tone than his previous post on the topic, “Why Progressives Are Batshit Crazy to Oppose the Senate Bill .” Says Silver:

…The bill is not “real reform” in the sense of something that fundamentally alters the structure of the current, predominately private, predominately employer-based insurance system. The only solutions that I’m aware of that might do that are single payer and Wyden-Bennett, either of which I’d prefer to what’s on the table now — but neither of which are liable to be politically viable any time soon. By the way, I don’t think a bill with a public option would constitute fundamental reform either — it would be better, but it’s still tinkering around the edges of a flawed system.
…Fundamental reform like single-payer or Wyden-Bennett was never really on the table. The bill comes very close, indeed, to establishing what might be thought of as a right to access to health care: once it’s been determined that people with pre-existing conditions cannot be denied health care coverage, and that working class people ought to receive assistance so that they can afford health care coverage, it will be very hard to remove those benefits. It’s the sort of opportunity that comes around rarely — and one that liberals will greatly regret if they turn down.

In his article, “Deal or Die on Health Care: Why progressives should support a Democratic compromise,” at The American Prospect, Paul Starr argues:

Liberals in Congress should also recognize that with either a 2013 or 2014 date for implementation, there will be time enough to revise the program before it goes into effect (indeed, time enough for the opponents to roll it back). Many of the specifics, such as the level of subsidies, almost certainly will be changed in the intervening years. And many of those specifics can be changed through budget reconciliation, which requires only 51 votes to pass the Senate.
Sen. Lieberman’s influence is at its maximum in passing health-care legislation now, and some of those provisions will be hard to change. But if Democrats succeed in getting a bill through Congress in the next several weeks, they can return to some of the issues in the reconciliation process next year. And at that point they won’t necessarily need to have Lieberman on board…If progressives in Congress can see that far ahead, they’ll see their way to vote for a compromise.

Whether to support or oppose the current Senate version of health care reform bill is a tough call for many progressive Democrats, and all of the aforementioned commentators have expressed their concerns about some measures of the Senate bill. But clearly many are ready to sign on and get something they feel is substantial passed soon — and carry the fight for amendments advancing comprehensive, universal coverage with some form of public option to another day.

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