Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Health care reform - or what's left of it?

As of just past my normal weekday bedtime, even the bloggers who have been following this the closest don't know what kind of deal the Senate Democrats have worked out on the public option in health care reform. Which in itself is an indictment of how badly the Senate Democrats have performed on this issue. From the statement that "Give 'em whine Harry" Reid put out late Tuesday, it looks like the Senate Dems used the filibuster as an excuse to cave to the insurance companies and sell the public down the river on the public option. Which in this context means, a health care reform that may literally be worse than none at all. If Brian Beutler's report is right and the public option is now reduced to a trigger, aka, has been eliminated from the plan in all but name, the Senate has agreed to gut health care reform. If this is what the Senate passes, I'd rather see the House Progressive Caucus kill the whole thing than pass a plan that would magnify the current problems instead of solving them. Which is what individual mandates to buy health insurance without the public option would be.

It's not over until it's over. But the Democrats' performance over this has been genuinely pathetic. And since we know from the "Gang of 14" incident over judicial nominations that the Republicans wouldn't hesitate to flush the filibuster rule over something important to them, the filibuster is no excuse. If the public option and health care reform with it go down, it's the fault of President Obama and the sad excuse for a Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Yes, the Republican Wrecker Party has been totally negative. But the Democrats have their 60-vote majority that would be enough to overcome a filibuster even without abolishing the filibuster rule which they should do in any case.

If health care reform goes under - and passing a castrated, industry-friendly version is the same as it going under or even worse - it's a whole new political ball game in the United States. And I don't think any of us have an idea of what it's going to look like. Except maybe Jerry Brown, who seems to be able to see decades ahead on some of these major things.

The Democrats have no excuse for failing on health reform. No excuse.

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