Saturday, December 19, 2009

There is little political upside for Democrats in passing this bill

I'd love to disagree with The Health Care Bill Is Political Suicide...But I can't.

Not only will some of those who pass this face the wrath of independent voters but from within their own party. Part of an e-mail I received today:

Progressives vs. Sherrod Brown?

BREAKING NEWS: Conservative Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) announced today he will be the 60th vote to allow the Senate health care bill to move forward...after fellow Democrats agreed to new restrictions on abortion.

This comes after Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) also agreed to be the 60th vote...after fellow Democrats agreed to remove a public health insurance option -- while mandating that millions of people buy insurance from private corporations.

We have a very serious question for our Ohio members as we plan our next activism steps: Do you think Sen. Sherrod Brown has fought strongly enough on behalf of the public option? And would you support pressuring him to be stronger?

Here's why this matters. The Senate and House will soon go to "conference committee" to iron out differences between their bills.

The House has a public option in their bill, but advocates for the Senate bill will have all the power in negotiations unless progressive senators like Sherrod Brown stand up now and publicly threaten to block a final bill unless it has a public option.

This is what Joe Lieberman and Ben Nelson did. But unlike them, Sherrod Brown would be advocating on behalf of the overwhelming majority of people. This past week, we commissioned a Research 2000 poll with our friends at Democracy for America. Check out these numbers:

* Voters want the public option: 59% to 31%.
* Support for current Senate bill (mandates without a public option): 33% to 56%.
* 63% of voters say President Obama didn't fight Joe Lieberman hard enough. (Democrats: 87%)
* 81% of Democrats want Joe Lieberman stripped of his powerful committee chairmanship.

If Sherrod Brown and other progressive senators threatened to block a bad bill, President Obama would face a choice: Strong-arm Lieberman and Nelson to support the final bill, which has huge popular support OR strong-arm progressives into supporting a bill with 33% support. The smart choice is obvious. But it's up to progressive senators to force that choice.

Brown said recently, "There's no negotiations as far as I'm concerned. We've compromised the public option three times, maybe four, depending on how you define it. This bill is not going to continue to become more pro-insurance company."

That was said when the public option was still in the bill. Since then, it's become way more pro-insurance company. When push came to shove, where did Sherrod Brown go? He and other progressive senators allowed themselves to get rolled by Lieberman. But it's not too late to fight back.

Unfortunately it may be too late to fight back, it doesn't seem as any of the 60 are listening...


Lawrence Moore said...

As always, it's about maintaining individual power, and the status-quo. When the dust settles, I'm betting the only thing everyone in congress will agree on is the pork, and the imbedded pay raises. A sad commentary, yes?

Anonymous said...

The Senate bill is a mess, but unfortunately may be the only time (in our lifetimes) that we'll see something that might help the millions of un-under-insured. Hopefully the oversight provisions regarding pre-exisiting conditions and insurability will be dealt with as if the feds actually intend to enforce them. We'll see...