HEALTHCARE reform is the defining issue not only for this President and the Democratic party, but for our generation.
While I am yet hopeful President Obama knows what he is doing, I think it important to also understand how important timing is for our goals and our political leverage. If we get this done, we have a good shot at moving ahead on the full plate of issues covered by the mandate for change.
But I feel we are being set up on the issue of healthcare reform. Whether it is by political design, or merely a window of political opportunism, I propose the following scenario as the reason why we should only strongly back meaningful, comprehensive health care reform including the public option.
We need to get this done.
Because if we don't, the Republicans will.
More below the jump...
1. Everyone agrees that the health care system is broken. There is no viable political position that wants the status quo. So change of some kind is coming. It is a question of which Party will take the prize for getting it done. We should not assume that only Democrats can speak credibly on healthcare reform, despite our traditional identification with the issue.
UPDATED: See the current Rec Listed Diary on Republicans Backing the Public Option.
2. The American public wants the public option. (Even if they don't know exactly what that means).
3. Public opinion of Democratic Party is low. Even when we have our heroes in the Senate our lack of party discipline is a talking point for political exploitation -- even by us.
4. Public opinion of Obama is vulnerable. I am not easily rattled by polls, and I believe he is a master of keeping cool under fire. But he needs to deliver on this issue in a big way, because he ran on it. Republicans believe he is vulnerable here, but beyond just saying NO there is another angle they can work, when the time is right:
5. Universal Health Care getting painted as Socialism is a total feint. It is not socialism. The most fiscally conservative nations in the worldas well as the liberal countries we all know all aim for and achieve UHC or something near it. But there is nothing inherently socialist about it. It is just responsible, socially and economically. This means US conservatives can pivot on this -- because once again we let them define the issue for us.
6. Republicans are not fundamentally opposed to reform or even UHC. See Romney and his involvement getting universal healthcare for Massachusetts as Republican Governor. How might they sell this plan for GOP backed Health Care Reform?
7. Republicans have great political incentive to NOT allow OBAMA and the current crop of Dems to succeed in passing HCR. Yes, it is partisan hackery. Voters don't care, they just want it done.
8. We pass half-assed, expensive reform that doesn't really reform anything. Costs skyrocket, ordinary people are still not protected for health or medical bankruptcy, and Democrats become the party too compromised to Big Business and Insurance Companies. Repubs may be the Party of No but no one will remember this come election time. All voters will remember is that Democrats were the Party of Can't. (And the left will kinda agree, and further fragment. Stupid, weak center.)
9. In 2012, the Republicans run on the promise of health care reform -- maybe even universal health care -- but add a flat tax (or some other conservative plum). They claim the problem was always only how it would be paid for. They get to look like the responsible adult AND pass health care reform -- with or without the public option -- and pay for it by dismantling other government programs. (Military spending however will continue unabated.)
The hammering by suggestion Obama is taking in the media (he appears weak, racism and stupidity in America is still too strong, etc.,) could coalesce into a more formidable, if patently mendacious, political argument against him, our party in general, and progressives by extension. I don't agree with this perspective, but these suggestions are repeated even here on this site, and so it is worth mentioning the fault lines in our own resolve.
Am I being paranoid? UHC really isn't reserved for socialist countries only, but the fact that we tend to argue 'what's wrong with socialism' instead leaves us wide open on that flank.
UPDATED: Check out this document on House GOP Strategy on Health Care Reform.
ALSO: Sarah Palin is going to Hong Kong to speak in September to an investors group. Hong Kong is the most capitalist and fiscally conservative country on the planet yet they have Universal Health Care -- and a 15% flat tax.