It's been awhile since I said goodbye and wrote my GBCW. Back then I wrote that I didn't think DKos was a productive place anymore, and that the blogosphere didn't know how to have a Democratic president in power, since they're only defined by raging against a machine. Nothing since then has changed my mind, but the degree to which I think the "left" has gone off-course in this health debate brought me back to start expressing a minority view in comments.
Today, a front-page post from Hunter pushed me over the edge and I've decided to write my first diary in a long, long time. Here's what I think: the progressive left is now crossing the line from being a productive, "make him do it" force to a counter-productive force that is departing the reality-based community.
The post from Hunter made it all too clear: you have assigned the public options magical powers that it does not have, never will have, and never had to begin with. You have lost even basic knowledge of how the health reform is going to work, and gotten so whipped into a frenzy over the public option that you're in danger of preventing millions of people from improving their lives.
This is what Hunter wrote today, referring to the notion of a public option "trigger."
Nothing in such a plan would solve the problem of actually getting health care -- if you have junk insurance, you won't go to the doctor anyway, unless it's an emergency. And it won't solve the problem of people going bankrupt when they get sick.
Sigh. As has been the case here for weeks and months, Hunter is conflating two completely different issues, misleading the readers, and just making shit up. I'll explain.
Let me first be clear: I absolutely support the notion of a public option. I think it's important to forcefully advocate for one. It would be a far better bill if a public option were included. The public option would contribute substantially towards containing costs in the health system as a whole. But the public option would only be available as an option, on an exchange, to those who don't currently have health insurance.
How on God's green earth, the public option is now going to transmit consumer protections to the 90% of people who wouldn't be on it is beyond me. How can it prevent others from going bankrupt? How can it prevent other insurance from denying coverage for pre-existing condition? How can it eliminate caps on lifetime benefits?
It can't. That's in the rest of the bill. The bill which most people here have now convinced themselves is completely useless without a public option. Guess what guys? There are other parts to the bill.
What I support is a bill with a public option. What I DON'T support, is the notion that a bill without it can't be meaningful progress that tangibly helps millions of people. So fight for it now, but don't lose sight of the bigger picture.
This is where the DKos community is most disheartening. There are countless, countless people who have no insurance now. They don't have it because they can't afford it. They have pre-existing conditions. They've lost their jobs, etc. And this bill would give them subsidies to buy insurance, prevent them from being denied coverage, etc.
People like my brother-in-law, who suffered one of the most horrendous possible cancers while unemployed, only covered through COBRA (or what you'd attack as a subsidy to the junk insurance companies). Well, guess what? He got excellent care, and he's on the path to recovery now. Thank God for COBRA. His insurance has a time limit on it, and we all know no one else will cover him because of his cancer. Unless this bill passes.
To the millions of people without health insurance, you've convinced yourselves that without the public option, they might not as well have insurance. What a load of crap. $100 isn't a lot of money either, but it is when you have $0.
The public option is just that, an option that has to pay for itself through premiums, that would be available on an exchange with other insurance options and would help keep costs down in the overall system. IF IT DOESN'T pass now, cost control will still be dealt with in the future. It'll have to be. This bill doesn't have to be the end-all-be-all.
What the bill DOES have to be is something that:
- Meaningfully improves the lives of people
- Changes the terms of the debate and sets the stage for further reforms
- Moves us tangibly in the right direction.
It's simply a fact, the public option doesn't have all the powers you are ascribing to it. In fact, most of the things you want it to do occur in other parts of the bill. Yes, it sucks that insurance companies will get money, but hey, life isn't fair. But if coupled with the kinds of consumer protections that help out the millions of people who need it, I'll take that over nothing any day of the week.
And nothing is exactly what will happen if some sort of reform doesn't pass now. So fight for the public option all day long. Fight for it now, but support reform in the end if it moves us in the right direction.
But when you convince yourselves that without the public option, everything else is meaningless, and give it powers it doesn't have, you have lost touch with basic reality.
Your President isn't perfect, but he's put his presidency on the line to advocate for positive health care reform. Instead of positive bolstering and reinforcement, it's been a lot of whining, freak-outs, and petulant behavior over every signal one way or another. Get out in the streets, follow the lead of people like Kath and Casperr.
I'm ready for it: call me a tool of insurance companies. The old "you think Obama is perfect" meme. All the same crap you'll throw at me. I don't care at all. I've said my piece. I'm back.