"It felt like facts, and reasoning, and realism went right out the window."
Sorry, you just don't get it. The passage of this bill isn't so much about what happens regarding health coverage reform; it's about demoralizing your base a mere 11 months before a critical midterm election. Hell, Republicans screwed things up, but at least they weren't cowards with their majorities. They rammed things through with blatant disregard for what was good for the country, showing loyalty to ideology over anything resembling compassion for their constituents. They were able to coast on the fumes of good will despite the morass of bad governance. I don't condone this modus operandi for Democrats, but let's be honest: every American who sees this pathetic effort by Democrats, in spite of their overwhelming majorities, can only come away with the impression that Democrats just can't get the job done.
It's embarrassing and we can already see 2010 shaping up to be a potential disaster.
So yes, let's discuss facts.
1. Losing the public option doesn't change the bill that much
Maybe, but it sure does kill the enthusiasm of the Democratic base, including a record number of first time and young voters who only participated because of hope for change. Losing either chamber will mean the next 2 years will be even more ridiculous than the last 2, and Obama will be fighting for his political life in 2012.
2. The health care bill is still a tremendous piece of legislation for liberals - Sure, if the year was 1968. But sorry, in 2009 we can look to several other countries that have systems that put ours to shame. And perpetuating the antitrust exemption and the mere concept that profit trumps care when it comes to health coverage is a travesty.
3. The individual mandate will not bring about armageddon. - Yes, it will, because
it's it will be challenged as [edited 2:41pm eastern time] unconstitutional and there are MANY, including myself, who will go to court to challenge the notion that the federal government can force me to buy a product from a for-profit company protected by an antitrust exemption. The entire premise is ludicrous.
4. Working against this bill is an absolutely disgusting display of political ignorance - As is pretending that there won't be serious repercussions for essentially abandoning your base on an issue that has been a prominent plank in your party's platform for generations. We all know by now what reconciliation is. THERE WERE ALWAYS 51 VOTES. IF YOU'RE GOING TO SIT THERE AND TELL ME THAT THE REPUBLICANS CAN USE RECONCILIATION TO PASS GOD DAMN TAX CUTS FOR THE RICH, BUT DEMOCRATS DON'T HAVE THE COURAGE TO USE IT TO PASS MEANINGFUL, BENEFICIAL HEALTH COVERAGE REFORM, THEN YOU BETTER BELIEVE BY GOD I'M GOING TO STAY HOME IN NOVEMBER 2010 (see update 3 below).
Furthermore, if you somehow believe that smarmy asshole Joe Lieberman isn't going to oppose every single piece of legislation he deems as too "liberal" just to settle a score from 2006, you're a fool. When he gets what he wants here, he'll know he can do it over and over again, without consequence. It's time to stop rewarding bad behavior and kick him out of the caucus, once and for all.
I can't be on board with passing a bad bill (yes, it is a bad bill) not only because the legislation is weak but the process is indicative of a larger problem - this hasn't been about compromises, it's been about capitulation. WE STILL NEED BETTER DEMOCRATS.
Some points of clarification...
First, I'm seeing some notions that being against this bill somehow means you're for the status quo. Nothing could be further from the truth. I oppose the bill in favor of using reconciliation to pass something better.
Second, the two big problems with this bill, in my opinion, are that 1) it will be challenged in court as unconstitutional because of the mandates to buy insurance from private companies that have antitrust exemptions, and 2) COVERAGE does not equal CARE when it comes to for-profit insurance companies. My wife is sick, and she has employer "coverage" but they are refusing her CARE.
I find it incredible to believe that so many here think this bill is the magic bullet for "36 million" or "40 million" when we know what the outcomes are with insurance companies. We've seen them in diaries here and in the news. People already die in this country despite the fact that they have "coverage". Families go bankrupt in this country despite the fact that they have "coverage". How is it that we are so quick to believe that somehow a company that values profit over all other things is somehow going to magically develop a social conscience? Personally, I think it's a fantasy and a very foolish thing to trust the insurance companies, but if Nate Silver says it will work, it must be true!!!
Also, obligatory rec list acknowledgement. I'd like to thank my momma, god and elvis.
My claim of unconstitutionality is based on the Commerce Clause of the constitution...
The powers of Congress - To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;
This has to do with interstate and foreign commerce. However, health insurance companies are restricted from interstate commerce; there is no health insurance product or commodity that crosses state lines. The federal government's power to regulate commerce (in this case, require you to buy a product from a private, for-profit company) cannot apply because there is no interstate, foreign or tribal commerce. And that's where the 10th amendment kicks in. It's really stupid that in an environment where we already have red state legislatures ginning up for this 10th amendment fight, we have a bill that hands it to them on a silver platter.
There were ways around this for the public option (as I would assume there are for this as well, but it isn't in this bill). Federal highways are an example - the states don't have to accept them, but then they won't get any federal highway money... that was the premise behind the opt-out, when it was alive.
In the case of Massachusetts, that's a state law, and MA has every right to regulate commerce within its state borders. When the federal government tries to regulate commerce within state's borders, that's where you get the 10th amendment challenges. Sorry if that's the "right wing" response, but the 10th amendment can't (and won't) be ignored.
Sure, it's right to say that with this Supreme Court, who knows? But the mere fact that it absolutely will be challenged (and at least on the surface seems like a legitimate challenge) to me seems to be unlocking a Pandora's Box that could lead us right back to where we are now.
Besides, how many of you can honestly say you're comfortable with the federal government mandating that you buy a product from a for-profit company that has an anti-trust exemption?
Yes this is an emotional subject, and, I admit, an emotional diary. Seriously, folks, we've got people at each others' throats in the comments. I think 99% of the people here want real reform, we just don't agree on what it is. But calling names doesn't get us any closer.
A few things to clear up here: when I wrote this diary early this a.m., I was pretty grumpy. OK, that was probably clear. But I stated that I will be staying home in November 2010, under certain conditions. Truth is, I can almost guarantee that I won't, no matter how angry I am with spineless Democrats. My memory of the disaster that was Republican governance is far too emblazoned on my mind to allow it to happen again over sour grapes. I hope others feel that way as well. Since I've been accused of it all being about emotions, let me discuss one more emotion here... disappointment. My disappointment in this bill and the way Democrats have completely lost control of the message and the process is profound. In that I believe many people feel this way is what leads me to conclude that 2010 could be a bad year. But there are many other points made here besides emotional ones. It's absolutely unfair to accuse someone who wants to "kill the bill" of being for death, just as it's unfair to accuse someone in favor of being a shill for the insurance industry. Those are over-the-top statements that don't help the debate.
Bottom line, I believe the bill puts the foxes in charge of the hen house. We have no reason, no precedent whatsoever to believe that just because citizens are "covered" that they will have care from for-profit insurance companies. In fact we have many examples that fly in the face of that argument. Furthermore, I'm not comfortable with the "pass it and we'll build upon it over time" argument. I know how things have worked in the past. But in this case we're literally looking at a bill that will financially benefit the very industry that will oppose any further expansion of health coverage reform in the future. If you think this fight has been difficult now, one can only wonder what happens when the insurance industry, 40 million (or so) more federally mandated customers strong, has its lobbying coffers overflowing as a direct result of this bill. That's why I oppose it. Take out the mandate and we're talking a different ballgame, but with the mandate it's a deal breaker for me. I really don't see anything progressive about subsidizing the for-profit insurance industry, at all. They're going to take that money and pour it into the strongest resistance we've ever seen to further reform. And if this is the best we can do with "60 votes" (ha ha), you just have to wonder what can really be done after November 2010, when we are suffering from a very real enthusiasm gap. Maybe we lose seats, maybe we don't, but we can see what we get with the majorities we have right now: an extremely divisive bill that doesn't come anywhere near to what many of us hoped for. I don't see how we improve it later, in the face of what I believe will be unprecedented insurance industry lies and misinformation; a situation which will have been enabled by this very bill.
Thanks to everyone for your comments and let's all remember we're in this together, so let's try and find some common ground.
Apologies in advance, but I'd be remiss if I didn't also indulge in some shameless self-promotion (Click the link if you like weirdo music. I promise I don't have an antitrust exemption).