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I'm seeing a rash of diaries trying to spread blame for the prematurely declared failure of health care reform. People like to point their finger at a particular person or group because it gives them an outlet for their rage. But our failure to pass comprehensive health care reform is not the fault of any one individual or group; it's due to this simple fact: We live in a sharply divided country (much more closely divided than one might think given the current composition of Congress), and the depth of that division is manifested in the incredibly close fight we are seeing over the health care debate.

Below the fold, I will present what I consider to be five myths about the fight for health care reform.
[cross-posted at Marc's Space]

Myth #1 - We have a supermajority in the Senate.

On many of the progressive issues we care about most, Joe LIEberman is about as Democratic as Dick Cheney. So we're really stuck at 59. Moreover, we have a handful of "centrist Democrats" who simply do not share our progressive agenda. On any given issue, there are several Dems who will not side with the majority. So that takes us down from 59 to the mid-fifties. Sure, there are going to be some slam dunks where we'll get the payoff from that supermajority but for the thorny problems, we've really got 50-something senators on our side.

Myth #2 - Obama has not provided sufficient leadership.

Remember that Obama does not write the laws. It's up to Congress to get this bill passed. The president is like a coach and the senators and representatives are the players on the field. Given that fact, it seems to me the President has shown pretty decent leadership...he addressed the nation on this issue specifically and told us, and Congress, his criteria for success. In the same speech, he sketched, in broad terms, his outline of a detailed reform plan. On numerous occasions he's met with congressional leaders on both sides of the aisle to try to smooth roadblocks and keep things moving forward.

Myth #3 - If only Harry Reid had a backbone we would get what we want.

I'm not a fan of Harry Reid but, I have to say, he has impressed me lately. Insisting on including a public option in this bill when it seemed clear that doing so would sacrifice nabbing 60 votes was a bold gambit and one that showed real leadership. I think he's doing the best he can to get something valuable for all of us out of this process but the filibuster proof numbers are simply not there without some major compromises.

Myth #4 - Democrats are dithering, two-faced, spineless losers who can't get their act together.

I believe there are good and bad elected officials on both sides of the aisle. I happen to believe in the agenda of the folks on the left but our opponents are not all stupid or evil. They just see things differently. But one thing I like about our side is we are more diverse in every way, and that includes our range of thought on various issues. So, with more diversity of opinions on our side, it's harder to get all of our elected officials to vote the same way. With a few notable exceptions, the Repubs seem to march more in lock-step. This diversity of thought is both a strength and a weakness. At the moment, it really sucks. :)

Myth #5 - We will send the Dems a valuable lesson by not voting in the next election.

No you won't. You'll just make it harder for us to move our country forward. Change happens incrementally. And it can also be reversed. This health care bill will undoubtedly be insufficient and unsatisfying in many ways to many people, but if it passes it will be the first time in my life that Congress actually did something to improve our broken system. And if you don't give up, we'll have additional chances in 2010 and 2012 to advance our majority even further, maybe to the point of having a real supermajority. OR...you can stay home and hand the leadership of our country back to the likes of Dick Cheney and Sarah Palin. It's your choice.

Originally posted to Thunder Road on Wed Dec 09, 2009 at 06:35 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

    •  A rebuttal to your points... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      MediaFreeze, Ice Blue, HiKa

      #1--we don't need a supermajority in the Senate, we need only 51 senators to pass legislation.  Reconciliation  appears to be the way to get this done.
      #2-- Obama has NOT provided sufficient leadership.  If he really cared about the public option, he would be hitting the stump around the country trying to rally public support and put pressure on senators to pass a bill with a public option, the way Ronald Reagan got on national TV and put pressure on the Congress to pass his tax and spending cuts in 1981, among other things.  Obama chose not to use his political capital to move on the biggest piece of legislation in a generation.
      #3-- I'll give you that Reid did show some leadership in making sure the public option was in the Senate bill, but it was late in the process for him to do so when there were many more opportunities wasted to rally support for the public option.
      #4--I wish there were a lot more Russ Feingolds and Alan Graysons and fewer of the likes of Max Baucus and Bart Stupak.  In fact, I intend to donate and volunteer this next election cycle to make sure that happens.
      #5-- see my response to #4.

      •  my rebuttal to your rebuttal... :) (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        rachelmap, Katie71, HiKa, randomfacts

        #1. I didn't say we need a supermajority, I simply said we don't have one. Your comment doesn't dispute that.

        #2. But Obama DID get on national TV just like Reagan.

        #3. I'm not saying Reid is without blame - just that he's not the primary reason this is so hard. He (and Obama) are being scapegoated, IMO.

        #4. I couldn't agree more and kudos for volunteering. I love both of those guys and have started donating to Grayson, the congressman with guts. :)

        #5. See my response to #4. :)

  •  Not a Troll Diary (1+ / 1-)
    Recommended by:
    tomjones
    Hidden by:
    ssgbryan
  •  What I wrote in another thread (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ice Blue, debedb, randomfacts

    This is primarily a failure of leadership (0+ / 0-)

    from Obama and the pro-reform groups. Obama failed to lead by clearly stating what he wanted the bill to be. He failed to clearly articulate proposals.

    The pro-reform side failed to devise a message that resonated with the American people. The public option died not this past week, but as early as late last year and early this year. Back then, while most activists were focusing on the stimulus package and other issues, groups like Conservative Patients Rights and Patients United Now were running dishonest ads with lies that went unchallenged for month. They successfully framed the debate and their lies about the public option being "a government takeover of healthcare" became the truth. Progressive groups didn't start running their ads until well into the summer, which amounted to being too little, too late.

    Then came the raucous townhall meetings. Yes, most of those people were a small minority; but they were a loud minority. And while everyone here is angry at Democrats from red states, for one second, put yourself in their positions. They go to their townhall meetings, only to hear loud angry people rant against the public option. Some of them got death threats. It's no wonder why they oppose it; it's because, rightly or wrong, the ones who opposed it were the loudest. That they're the minority doesn't matter. The fact is that they were the ones who called and attended most of the media. Also the fact that the media made them seem like the majority didn't help either.

    Finally it's much easier to rally someone against something. The right successfully scared enough people to doom the public option. Their lies about death panels, bureaucrats rationing healthcare, and patients losing the right to pick their own doctor resonated with just enough people to derail. Again you don't need a majority to oppose something to defeat it. If you can get at least 30-40% of the public to oppose something, if you make them shrill and loud, and if you can get the media to make them look like the majority, then that's just enough. The right knew that.

    The key lesson is to start defining the other side early. The other lesson is to answer all of their lies, however absurd. And frankly, given that the right has already started running ads against Cap and Trade, there is no time to lose.

  •  i'm sorry... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tomjones, nickrud, IL JimP

    but we don't know the final extent of this compromise.  and frankly the voices that are worth listening to are all saying this is good.  why are we perpetuating our own demise before the fact?  how great to be the victims.  sad, i'm out of here.

    •  if you read the diary... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tomjones, IL JimP

      you would understand that i'm suggesting we keep fighting, not roll over and play victim.

      •  yes... (5+ / 0-)

        i'm sorry.  i meant to reply to a comment from somebody else.  i agree with your diary and it's premise.  

      •  Who is playing victim? (0+ / 0-)

        Please tell me what we need to do?  Does Reid need 70 or 75 seats to pass a bill?  Is it hard for the president to say i will veto a bill if it does not contain a strong public option?

        Let me tell you what I see: I see a party and a president that do not under power.  That being the case why should I work had for and send money to help these people get power when it is wasted.  Merely being competent does not a great president or movement make.

        For a brief moment the pendulum of time had swung back to the progressive side.  Now that moment is gone mostly due to a lack of leadership and vision from the president on down.  Worst of all what do we have to show for it?  Not Jack Shit! Did you see that piece of shit jobs proposal?  That could have come from any non certifiable republican.

        In August of 08, I was volunteering with the campaign in TN.  I registered two graduate students to vote.  I asked if they wanted to volunteer for Obama.  They said we will vote for him but no thanks on the volunteering, we lived in MA and helped with the Patrick campaign and nothing really changes.

        I'm ready for a third party.  Maybe the Greens aren't so crazy.

        •  great attitu, so your solution is "let's give up" (0+ / 0-)

          because that's your green party vote will be, a big "I give up" vote. that's now Gore lost in 2000. too many people voted for Nader. thanks for the help electing president Cheney.

          •  Thanks for answering the Question! (0+ / 0-)

            If you will read carefully, I said maybe the Greens aren't so crazy.  Also, when did i say give up. A third  party is not giving up. It is a blinding restatement of the obvious.  The Progressive Movement started as an independent party maybe it has to restart as one too.

            Don't seize the last line of an argument and not touch the heart of the debate. I asked you what we needed to do. You responded with jack!

            •  you asked what we need to do... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Mokurai

              here's my answer: keep fighting. don't give up. You asked does Reid need 70 or 75. my answer is Reid needs 60, which he doesn't have now. you might think he has 60 but he doesn't. that one of the points of my diary. he's got 60 nominal dems but less than 60 progressive dems.

              want me tell you what to do about it? work to get 60 real progressive dems in the senate.

              here's what not to do about...

              - bitch and moan about weak leadership - complain about how no one knows how to use power - effectively give up with statements like "nothing really changes"

              •  Right I need 60 progressives (0+ / 0-)

                i guess we should get them from utah, texas, georgia, alabama and south carolina.  Or is it acceptable to primary the likes of nelson, Lincoln, landreau et. al.

                "From: DNC
                TO: Progressive Democrats

                Uh, Yeh. Well. I know in the past i was talking about getting to 60 democratic senators and all that good stuff but it turns out to get done the kinda "progressive" shit you think is needed you actually need 60 progressive democrats.  So we are about 10 short give or take.  So you get to work on those new 10.  but um, the can't come from primaring any of the current non progressives cause then we would not be able to pass their non progressive agenda if you were to lose the general election.

                So, please donate to help keep our majority."

                As for your what not to do section, not saying it does not stop it from being true.  I thought we were reality based here.

                •  why are we arguing? we're on the same side (0+ / 0-)

                  I agree with you - it sucks we have 60 dems but not enough to get done what we believe is important. and i don't agree with the call for donations at this time when they are not doing what we elected them to do (i got the same email and i didn't donate either).  and i'm fine with primarying lame dems like some of the bluedogs.

                  i'm just trying to say that blaming Obama or Reid or congress is not the answer. working to elect more of the good ones and replace the crappy ones is the answer. voting for the green party or some other entity that has no chance is not the answer. that just makes the problem worse.

  •  I am not sure we can move this country forward (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Steppin Razor

    I watch our many of our European brethren and I have a real fear that we are just their backward cousin condemned forever to be 2 steps behind.  We just are too driven by fear and greed to ever be a truly great nation but in any case we have missed our window of opportunity and now are destined to move into 3rd world status in the next 25 years.  We already rank poorly in education and healthcare and we are losing our middle class.  Are these problems solvable....sure with the right leadership but this is another area in which we have a serious  and probably insurmountable deficit.

    "When fascism comes to America, it'll be wrapped in a flag and carrying a cross." Sinclair Lewis

    by lakehillsliberal on Wed Dec 09, 2009 at 06:56:19 PM PST

    •  too defeatist (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tomjones

      it's just too hard to fix so we should just roll over and give up? no one ever got anything done with that attitude. i'm not saying it's easy but you've gotta keep fighting.

      •  Fighting what...who we are! This is what this (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        anonquia, Steppin Razor

        country is...want a better country raise better kids...teach them that greed and selfishness is not good.  Make them less materialistic and self centered, make them understand that we are our brothers keeper and doing the right thing counts for something but today this is just not who we are and not what we believe.  We cannot find people to represent us because no matter what BS these democrats are selling...they really do not really believe in their platform(the one they sold us)...they believe in financing campaigns and getting elected...everything else is negotiable...as is clear from this exercise.  

        "When fascism comes to America, it'll be wrapped in a flag and carrying a cross." Sinclair Lewis

        by lakehillsliberal on Wed Dec 09, 2009 at 07:10:38 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  True, but... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        lakehillsliberal

        Lots of Americans don't see what Europe is doing.  Maybe if they did...  But I dunno.  Some people seem to think a program has cooties if Europe succeeds at it!  (Exhibit A:  Universal health care.)

        The '60s were simply an attempt to get the 21st Century started early....Well, what are we waiting for? There's no deadline on a dream!

        by Panurge on Wed Dec 09, 2009 at 07:11:19 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  This goes back to our lousy education system... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Gooserock

          back in the day....we would have had a whole year of covering the healthcare debate.  We would have had groups covering each one of the options and did presentations and debated pros and cons.  At the end, we would have been mini-experts and would have shared the information with our parents thus educating them and in the process learning to think through complex issues that affected our lives.

          "When fascism comes to America, it'll be wrapped in a flag and carrying a cross." Sinclair Lewis

          by lakehillsliberal on Wed Dec 09, 2009 at 07:15:28 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  And the Fact that our entire society is at (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            lakehillsliberal

            information war against the people in its mainstream communication environment. That's got to count for something.

            We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

            by Gooserock on Wed Dec 09, 2009 at 07:38:59 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  Hey they don't rank as poorly as we do (0+ / 0-)

        in either healthcare or education or life expectency so they must be doing something right.  The are also generally happier than we are by all real measures of happiness(see above) except our pseudo BS atittude projections..."if we say and believe it, it must be so."

        "When fascism comes to America, it'll be wrapped in a flag and carrying a cross." Sinclair Lewis

        by lakehillsliberal on Wed Dec 09, 2009 at 08:59:44 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  not voting is the exact wrong thing to do nt (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tomjones, scotths, jarell
  •  1 is mostly myth. 2-4 are True. 5 debatable. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    anonquia

    neca politicos omnes; deus suos agnoscet.

    by khereva on Wed Dec 09, 2009 at 07:09:00 PM PST

  •  I think we need to fight (0+ / 0-)

    on bumping up the Medical Loss Ratio to around 95% on group and exchange plans, pretty much the same as the public option.

    The Medical Loss Ratio should be at least 90% on off-exchange individual plans and with overhead and profit limited to $100 plus the individuals age*2.  

  •  Serves us right, I guess... (0+ / 0-)

    ...for fighting to preserve the filibuster in 2006 when the GOP threatened to end it.

    The '60s were simply an attempt to get the 21st Century started early....Well, what are we waiting for? There's no deadline on a dream!

    by Panurge on Wed Dec 09, 2009 at 09:06:26 PM PST

  •  I think we need to incentize (0+ / 0-)

    lower premium rates.

    Doctors are getting incentives.

    Premium payers should get incentives too.

    This would be based on Medicare scope coverage.

    If premium rates rates are 60% more than 1993 rates adjusted for median personal income, then no mandated purchase would be required.

    If premium rates are not 50% more than 1993 rates adjusted for median personal income and all exchange plans in your area have at least 50% provider participation in say 10 key areas, then mandated purchase would be required for people over 50.

    If premium rates are not 40% more than 1993 rates adjusted for median personal income and all exchange plans in your area have at least 60% provider participation in say 10 key areas, then mandated purchase would be required for people over 40.

    If premium rates are not 30% more than 1993 rates adjusted for median personal income and all exchange plans in your area have at least 70% provider participation in say 10 key areas, then mandated purchase would be required for people over 30.

  •  Reconciliation can work (0+ / 0-)

    A provision is considered to be extraneous if it falls under one or more of the following six definitions:

    1.it does not produce a change in outlays or revenues;
    2.it produces an outlay increase or revenue decrease when the instructed committee is not in compliance with its instructions;
    3.it is outside of the jurisdiction of the committee that submitted the title or provision for inclusion in the reconciliation measure;
    4.it produces a change in outlays or revenues which is merely incidental to the non-budgetary components of the provision;
    5.it would increase the deficit for a fiscal year beyond the "budget window" covered by the reconciliation measure; and
    6.it recommends changes in Social Security.

    (1) Public option is cheaper when it pays Medicare-based rates
    (2& 3) Democrats control the committees
    (4) The substantial savings of Medicare rate public option is a major reason why Reid and Pelosi now support public option
    (5) It doesn't increase the deficit since reform "pays for itself" per Obama's wish and the bill itself
    (6) It's not Social Security

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