Paul Krugman isn't happy, but wants to see the Senate bill pass:
A message to progressives: By all means, hang Senator Joe Lieberman in effigy. Declare that you’re disappointed in and/or disgusted with President Obama. Demand a change in Senate rules that, combined with the Republican strategy of total obstructionism, are in the process of making America ungovernable.
But meanwhile, pass the health care bill.
Why? Krugman says:
At its core, the bill would do two things. First, it would prohibit discrimination by insurance companies on the basis of medical condition or history: Americans could no longer be denied health insurance because of a pre-existing condition, or have their insurance canceled when they get sick. Second, the bill would provide substantial financial aid to those who don’t get insurance through their employers, as well as tax breaks for small employers that do provide insurance.
Three unrelated observations:
- On Krugman's second argument for the bill -- that it would expand coverage by giving financial assistance to those who cannot currently afford health insurance -- it will be important to track the way in which Ben Nelson's demands are handled. After all, there really isn't a bill yet to endorse. The deals are still being struck, and Ben Nelson is insisting that the final bill's subsidies be "scaled back." If he is successful, shouldn't that be taken into account in assessing the bill's strength? Similarly, if Nelson is unsuccessful, won't it be a good sign that the subsidies may not be as politically vulnerable as I have feared?
- Remember when it was fashionable to say that Paul Krugman had Obama Derangement Syndrome and was motivated by personal dislike of President Obama? Well, if you ever needed proof to debunk that, this article provides it.
- Krugman writes "Not to put too fine a point on it, America would be in much better shape today if Democrats had cut a deal on health care with Richard Nixon." This hints at the claim (made again today by the WSJ's Jonathan Weisman) that Ted Kennedy's greatest regret was not accepting a health care deal from Nixon. That claim does not appear to be true. Although Kennedy said he regretted it on the record in 2003, the following year he took a more non-committal position. "I'll have to go back and look at whether we should have jumped on that," he said in 2004. "Did we make a mistake waiting?" Why did Kennedy's position soften? Perhaps because he made his first statement while pushing fellow progressives to support a deal with Bush on prescription drug coverage. Ultimately, after Bush reneged on that deal, Kennedy became a fierce opponent of the legislation. At the time, nobody -- at least nobody on the left -- accused Ted Kennedy of wanting people to die.