Wednesday, December 16, 2009

What to do with the Health Care Bill

As a progressive. . .fuck that. I'm not a progressive, I'm a liberal. I believe that the free market/capitalism system is a good system, but the real world being what it is, we need government intervention when the market breaks down. I believe that women should have full autonomy over their own bodies, and that everyone should be free to spend their money on what they want, so long as it doesn't affect anyone else. My previous work in housing rights was primarily correcting the market inefficiency of housing discrimination.

Anyway, as a liberal, and someone who cares deeply about the status of health care in this country (which I've blogged about ad nauseum), I'm left to wonder what to do about the Senate Health Care Reform bill. Sure, there are a number of good things in the bill, but there are huge corporate giveaways. For instance, under this bill, everyone has to get health care insurance or face government sanction. But health insurance companies still get anti-trust exemptions, and can dump people for forgetting to disclose even the most trivial of medical issues. So, the bill guarantees corporate profit.

Moreover, the bill doesn't have a public option or a Medicare buy-in, both of which are critical to bringing down the cost of health care insurance. In the ideal world, people at risk - small business owners, people with preexisting conditions, kids out of college - would have a place to go for relatively inexpensive insurance. I believe the best provider of that kind of insurance is the government (I'll spare you the details as to why).

Without a public option, should liberals and progressives deep six the bill? If I had to guess, I'd say that they won't but strategically, maybe we should. The health care negotiations were largely made between moderate and conservative Democrats, with liberal/progressives left out in the cold. The reason for this is that the Democratic leadership assumed they'd have our vote. And traditionally, they would.

Here's the problem that the Democratic leadership doesn't get that Republicans do - its all about turnout. Right now, the parties are more or less balanced, with the Democrats doing better now. Independents swing back and forth based on the conditions of the day and based on the general enthusiasm of the two bases. The party that gets its base to turnout wins. And so while liberals might not vote for Republicans, they will simply not vote, and the GOP comes back into power. Of course, the Democratic leadership doesn't understand this because those voters have been so disaffected for so long that the Democratic leadership didn't believe these votes existed until Obama convinced them to vote.

To get the Democratic leadership to understand the importance of keeping their base happy, maybe its time to kill something big, like health care reform. Let me expand by drawing an analogy. Anyone who's listened to Jim Rome on the radio knows that, for the most part, he gives softball interviews. His guests are given plenty of latitude to speak their minds, and he doesn't go the jugular. At the same time, Jim Rome has the reputation of being a tough interviewer. Why? Because in 1994, Rome called quarterback Jim Everett, "Chris Everett," to Everett's face, and almost got his face punched in. That's all it took for Rome to be considered a tough interview, and guys still duck his show.

Maybe that's what we progressives should do with the health care bill. Kill it to make it clear to the Democratic Party leadership that we're no longer going to accept getting shit on.

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