Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Daily Strike-9/3/09-Push for It

Good evening and welcome to the Daily Strike. We're in a bit of a holding pattern before Congress returns next week and the President delivers his address on health care. But, nonetheless, still much to talk about.

THE PUBLIC OPTION: There's a big debate going on in the progressive world as to whether the White House will push, or should push, the public insurance option in next week's Presidential address. Unlike a lot of progressives, I don't think the public option is the be all and end all of reform. If we really couldn't get the bill passed with a public option, and the whole bill was about to fall by the wayside, I'd suck it up and vote yes. The insurance market reforms, mandates and subsidies to those who can't afford insurance are too important to hold hostage. Having said that, I am absolutely adamant that the President insist on, and strongly promote, the public option in next week's address.

The public option in and of itself is extremely important as a policy proposal. Including a robust public option in the health insurance exchange will force private insurance companies to cut costs or improve quality if they want to compete. This will make the overall health system better and cheaper. The fact that a lot of moderate Democrats oppose the public option while insisting that the bill is too expensive is totally baffling to me. Beyond the fact that it's good policy, it is of crucial political importance. For better or worse, the left has defined success on health reform by the inclusion of the public option. Abandoning it will alienate some of the President's most passionate supporters, either causing them to be unenthusiastic about reform, or worse, disengaged entirely. Without a strong pro-reform grassroots movement, you can be sure that Democrats in Congress won't be able to get their act together.

The conventional wisdom among the punditry class is that Obama must abandon the public option if he is to get a bipartisan bill. It's becoming increasingly clear that that notion is a total farce. Almost every Republican will oppose the bill no matter what's in there. Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl has indicated that the compromise "co-op" plan wouldn't get any Republican votes. When we make concessions to Republicans, not only do we not get any votes in return, but we make our original proposals appear "too liberal" or "radical." Republicans and their allies are against the very notion of health reform, both because it goes against their rigid ideology, but also because they know it will bring long-term electoral success to Democrats if it succeeds. Therefore, we're gonna need to get this done with just Democrats.

We still need to deal with the Blue Dogs, who are primarily concerned with maintaining their strenuous holds on conservative districts. If they support ANYTHING that comes from President Obama, they will face heat from tea-baggers and town hall attendees. Given that reality, they might as well try to make the bill a good bill. The best way we can convince them is to have a fired-up, energized and robust pro-reform movement. If they feel that enthusiasm, if they see that the tide is turning towards reform, I think that enough of them will come on board.

President Obama has a bunch of cautious advisers, like Rahm Emanuel and Jim Messina who think that they need to make concession after concession to make sure that something gets done. If we have to make concessions, let's do it at the end of the process (like in a House-Senate conference) when we absolutely have to. That way, we can keep the base engaged and energized, and start to change the trajectory of the whole effort.

See you tomorrow!

No comments:

Post a Comment