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This health care thing is pretty personal isn't it?  There are tens of millions of different ways it's personal for the uninsured, the underinsured, those with pre-existing conditions, those afraid of losing their job or afraid to change jobs, the self-employed, small business owners, and small business employees.  Then there are the boundless egos of our representatives and the personal insults all of us have been subject to as the goalposts were moved again and again and again.

There's alot of talk about what the Damn Senate Bill does do that it shouldn't or doesn't do that it should.  There are a few things it does that are a really big deal:

universal health insurance coverage
subsidies for those who can't afford it
exchanges for individuals and small businesses to buy insurance

I know that as written, the Damn Senate Bill's subsidies are too stingy, it punishes those labor union members who gave up some salary for high-end insurance, and it has the ridiculous Cornhusker Kickback.  These things can be fixed in reconciliation this year and beyond.  But look back at those things the bill does do.  Those are very good things, and very personal things for those of us on the fringes of our health care system.

This community knows more about health care than most, and we are probably pretty hardened in our opinions.  However, since I have already e-mailed and/or called my Congressman, 2 Senators, Speaker Pelosi, and President Obama, I am left advocating within this community in the desperate hope that my thoughts will somehow resonate and make a difference.  I sum it up as 3 reasons to pass the Damn Senate Bill.

1. The Damn Senate Bill is the only path to universal health care.
It's a source of profound embarrassment for progressives that we live in the only industrialized country in the world without universal health care.  The Democratic Party has been fighting for universal health care since Harry Truman.  It is a moral tragedy that 45,000 people die every year because they have no health insurance.  Only the Damn Senate Bill can provide structures essential to universal coverage: a ban on exclusions and exchanges for purchasing insurance.  No further bills, no matter how "popular", will pass through the Senate through regular order.  Republicans just don't care - they are deeply invested in keeping Democrats from enacting ANY health care reform.

2. Reconciliation alone is not likely to bring any results at all
The politics of a reconciliation-only strategy do not work.  Although it only takes 50 votes + Biden to pass a reconciliation bill, it's still not easy.  It would have to go through 3 House committees and 2 Senate committees.  One of those Senate committees is the Budget Committee chaired by Kent Conrad.  Conrad said he is open to reconciliation to modify the Senate bill as long as he approves of the modifications.  Do you really think Kent Conrad, champion of the entitlement reform commission is going to welcome reconciliation from scratch and become a progressive champion expanding Medicare and Medicaid?  Sorry, it's not going to happen.

3. We won't get another chance.
Filibuster or not, Democrats have big majorities in both the House and the Senate.  It will not work to ask the voters to give bigger majorities to a party that fails to govern.  Democrats won't rush to the polls to endorse their party's failure, and you can bet everyone else won't either.  Explaining the filibuster to the electorate is not only impossible, it's making excuses.  The people want results.  The Democrats will never ever have credibility on health care again if both chambers pass universal health care but it doesn't become law.

This is why we have to pass it now.
It is completely understandable that progressives and Democrats in Congress trust nobody after the goal posts have been moved so many times.  It's been floated that the House only pass the Damn Senate Bill after the reconciliation bill fixing it has been passed by the House and Senate.  Universal health care would thus be held hostage by progressives.  Hostage?  Progressives threatening to kill universal health care is like PETA threatening to kill a kitten if it doesn't get its way.  It would be horrific to follow through on the threat and discrediting not to.

It's better to take the pressure off by quickly passing the bill.  The air would rush out of the teabaggers' balloons and the reconciliation process would be about making the bill better instead of trying to kill it.  There's no better motivation to fix a bill than to actually make it law.  

Paul Krugman puts it succintly:

A message to House Democrats: This is your moment of truth. You can do the right thing and pass the Senate health care bill. Or you can look for an easy way out, make excuses and fail the test of history.

Ezra Klein captured very well the deep moral peril the Democrats face:

Letting this process die is, of course, the worst of all worlds. Democrats have 59 votes in the Senate and almost 260 votes in the House. They brought their bill to the one-yard line before Scott Brown forced a fumble. Proving yourself unable to govern in that scenario is proving yourself unable to govern. Moreover, it would be staggeringly cruel to the people that this bill is meant to help, and who need this bill's help. Covering 30 million and protecting countless millions more is not just a talking point. It's the reason for this whole enterprise. To abandon those people because Brown won in Massachusetts is simply indecent, and would prove the Democratic Party worse than ineffective. It would prove the party unconcerned.

This isn't about what all of us think this bill should be.  It's not about Joe Lieberman or Ben Nelson or Kent Conrad or Bart Stupak.  It's about what the bill actually does for people and how it can be made better now and in the future.  The Damn Senate Bill is still a huge win for progressives.  It moves the goalposts forward to a whole other field.  It will be very difficult to repeal the law and its subsidies that let tens of millions get health insurance once it is enacted.  Just pass it.  Please.

Originally posted to CA Pol Junkie on Fri Jan 22, 2010 at 05:42 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Only 3? I can think of 30 million reasons. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    CA Pol Junkie

    Joe Wilson is a racist. Censure his ass.

    by OReillysNightmare on Fri Jan 22, 2010 at 05:47:09 AM PST

  •  It plain does not provide universal coverage (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    and universal coverage has never been the same thing as universal health care.

    There are other ways to skin this cat.

    •  Remember the mandate? (0+ / 0-)

      You know the mandate that alot of liberals suddenly hate?  That's what universal coverage is about.  It means everyone has at least a basic level of insurance.

      You have the power to change America. Yes. We. Can.

      by CA Pol Junkie on Fri Jan 22, 2010 at 05:53:55 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Everyone acknowledges that not everyone (0+ / 0-)

        is going to comply with the mandate. In fact, the fines for not complying with the mandate are an important part of the CBO's calculations about the budgetary impact of the bill.

        •  Almost everyone (0+ / 0-)

          The CBO says that 30 million uninsured will have insurance.  Do you have a better plan that can pass Congress?

          You have the power to change America. Yes. We. Can.

          by CA Pol Junkie on Fri Jan 22, 2010 at 06:08:09 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Well we have two different questions then (0+ / 0-)
            1. Does this plan provide universal coverage, as alleged by the diarist? I simply pointed out that it does not. It does provide coverage for 30 million more people, in many cases against their will.
            1. Is there a better plan?

            I'm not a Congressional staffer in a position to know the answer to that question. I do know that San Francisco has managed to provide near-universal health care within the City and County, mostly using existing resources.

            I'm also surprised that nobody's ever considered getting an actual bipartisan bill done by incorporating some of the Republican ideas such as tort reform and allowing for the purchase of insurance across state lines.

            I also think that Bernie Sanders Amendment provides an excellent example of something very progressive that hasn't received any vocal opposition.

            So, yes, I do believe that there is more than one way to skin a cat, but I have to leave it to the Congressional staffers to count the votes . . .

            •  we can count the votes well enough (0+ / 0-)

              It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out there aren't the votes in the House or the Senate for anything that Bernie Sanders (or us) would propose.

              You have the power to change America. Yes. We. Can.

              by CA Pol Junkie on Fri Jan 22, 2010 at 06:57:44 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Whaddaya mean? (0+ / 0-)

                It already passed as an amendment, and it hasn't been the subject of any vocal opposition.

                •  not single payer then (0+ / 0-)

                  I thought you were referring to Sanders' single payer alternative, which Sanders withdrew from consideration because it had little support and Republicans were using it to delay health care reform.

                  You have the power to change America. Yes. We. Can.

                  by CA Pol Junkie on Fri Jan 22, 2010 at 07:32:33 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Now, I'm talking about his amendment (0+ / 0-)

                    giving 10 billion for community health clinics that treat people regardless of whether they have insurance or not. That to me is the model. You shouldn't need to have health insurance in order to get basic, government health care, and basic government health care should be decent.

  •  Ask yourself this... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    psychodrew, GrandmaMJ

    If you oppose passing the Damn Senate Bill, ask yourself this:

    Are you willing to throw 30+ million people under the bus because you don't like insurance companies?  If you oppose this, I think it's a pretty safe bet you already have insurance so this bill will not have much direct effect upon you.  For the uninsured, the underinsured, the self-employed, small businesses, small business employees, and those with pre-existing conditions this bill will be very important.

    You have the power to change America. Yes. We. Can.

    by CA Pol Junkie on Fri Jan 22, 2010 at 06:01:44 AM PST

  •  That bill is toast (0+ / 0-)

    Your fellow dems got too personally greedy, fighting over this provision and that provision, many sides unwilling to compromise. So, in the end we all get nothing: this bill is dead in the water. And, it unfuriates me, because had we worked within reason, together, we could have gotten something workable that could have been improved on over time. Instead, we acted like a monkey shoving his hand around some peanuts but unable to get his closed fist out of the jar because he is unwilling to let a few go.

    •  I'm fighting like heck (0+ / 0-)

      I've called and/or e-mailed my congressman (Garamendi), both senators (Feinstein and Boxer), Speaker Pelosi, and President Obama.  I will keep doing so again and again until I feel like they are listening.

      You have the power to change America. Yes. We. Can.

      by CA Pol Junkie on Fri Jan 22, 2010 at 06:35:46 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  it's too late (0+ / 0-)

        we had 60 votes & blew a golden opportunity. The Republicans have been given their marching orders. Health care is a dead issue now, thanks to a bunch of selfish bastards from our own party. It sickens me.

  •  Has there (0+ / 0-)

    been any "popular organizing" to this effect? Politicians have been hearing from tea baggers, and to some extent the progressive pony people (sorry, had to come up with a catchy nickname) rather loudly for months. I think part of the reason why they are all running around like they have no idea what they are doing is that they are finally also hearing from people who didn't say anything before now because they were reasonably satisfied with how HCR was going, and were expecting something like the house or senate or combination bill was actually going to be enacted, but who are finally coming out of the woodwork to get angry at their reps because it looks like they are running scared. Caught between the old forces and this new one, no wonder they are confused.

    So, is there a way to make this "pass the bill now" voice more powerful?

    So...why can't we have a benevolent progressive dictator again?

    by JMS on Fri Jan 22, 2010 at 06:28:55 AM PST

  •  Forcing 30 million people to buy crap insurance (0+ / 0-)

    from an industry whose sole interest is to deny coverage and rob them blind and calling it universal coverage/health care (depending on your point of view) is rubbish. Baucus' bill may provide supplements to the poor and others whose income is below a certain point but when you start to look at those plans (really go take a good look at the various plans offered in MA) these same people will most likely still have trouble coughing up the rest of the premium payment and will still not be able to afford the co-pay to the doc or buy drugs, etc. In reality Baucus' bill is one big give away to the health insurance industry and the WH and Senate Democrats can beat on their chest about how this bill will cover 30 million more Americans all they want, but in reality only a fraction of that 30 million will actually be able to afford the health care that their new junk insurance provides. Clearly the public is paying attention and are not of the mind to settle for garbage.

    Clearly the lessons from the MA and VA governor's fiasco have not been learnt.

    Dems stayed home on Tuesday because they didn't want the Baucus bill that was passed, they wanted a PO. The Dems and Independents that voted for Brown didn't want the Baucus bill that was passed, they wanted a PO. The voters in VA overwhelmingly favored a PO. When Deeds said he would opt VA out of the PO, he tanked in the polls and Dems stayed home on election day..

    The House can't pass the senate bill as is unless they can couple it with another bill via reconcilitation that will fix the problems, ie. add anti-trust exemption, add public option and/or lower Medicare buy in, have it kick in before 2014, etc. Having the House pass the Bacus bill that caters to the insurance companies and screws main street Americans is not going to help Democrats in 2010. The voters are paying attention and it appears that they are not going to settle for garbage.


      We have to deal in reality.  A public option will not happen in this Congress, and the only way we will ever get it is to add it to the existing structure that the Damn Senate Bill will provide.  Policy wise, this is the only way to go.  We have to do the right thing and then communicate to the clueless that most Americans will hardly notice the change.

      You are insured, right?  I'll bet you are much happier to be insured by a company you hate than uninsured.

      You have the power to change America. Yes. We. Can.

      by CA Pol Junkie on Fri Jan 22, 2010 at 06:40:13 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  All the data say that the people who voted (0+ / 0-)

        wanted a Public Option. Do I want a PO - yes. Do I think it's possible or attainable at this point - NO.

        But the Baucus bill gives everything to the insurance companies and has no mechanism to ensure some type of competition will keep premiums in check and afordable and will actually provide coverage that people can afford.

        There is no anti-trust regulations or any other regulations for that matter to keep the health insurance industry in check. Baucus and his buddies gave the Health insurance industry 30 million new customers and also gave them free reign to do whatever the hell they want. What's wrong with this picture?

        If I'm going to be forced to buy insurance, I don't think it's asking too much to have at least some checks in place to force the insurance company to deliver the services that I am paying for. There doesn't need to be a PO or a Medicare buy in, although that would be nice, but the insurance companies need to be held accountable to deliver the services that people are paying for and that,my friend, did not happen and the voters are pissed. They made their displeasure know by either staying home or pulling the levor for the other guy.

        And yes, I do have insurance. It's really crappy coverage and incredibly expensive. I'm chronically ill and live in constant fear that it will bankrupt my family. To be honest having no insurance won't be too much worse than the insurance I already have.

        •  competition (0+ / 0-)

          Of course there's competition - the exchanges.  Everyone who has to get insurance has options so they can choose the least crappy alternative! ;-)  Having competition for once will put pressure on insurance companies for both quality and cost.

          If you are ill, your rates will definitely go down thanks to community rating.

          You have the power to change America. Yes. We. Can.

          by CA Pol Junkie on Fri Jan 22, 2010 at 07:34:57 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Earth to diarist: (0+ / 0-)

    it is not going to happen.  We are talking to ourselves.

    •  I'm talking to my Congressman (0+ / 0-)

      I'm calling and e-mailing again and again until he listens.  I hope everyone else does the same.

      You have the power to change America. Yes. We. Can.

      by CA Pol Junkie on Fri Jan 22, 2010 at 06:41:06 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I'm emailing mine too, absolutely; (0+ / 0-)

        several times this week.  But reality is reality.  That doesn't mean stop communicating, but it does mean get mentally and emotionally ready for the inevitable.

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