What's The Plan, Man?
What's going on with the latest health care kabuki theater in the "progressive", er, regressive blogosphere? Well, apparently quite a bit, in the last couple of days.
Let's review. Ezra Klein has already dutifully picked up on the cues I spoke of last week, and has begun asplaining to us dummies out here how the public option really isn't all that important.
It might have been a necessary thing from an activism point of view, but convincing liberals that this bill was worthless in the absence of the public option was a terrible decision, wrong on the merits and unfair to the base. The achievement of this bill is $900 billion to help people purchase health-care coverage, a new market that begins to equalize the conditions of the unemployed and the employed, and a regulatory structure in which this country can build, for the first time, a universal health-care system. Thousands and thousands of lives will be saved by this bill. Bankruptcies will be averted. Rescission letters won't be sent. Parents won't have to fret because they can't take their child, or themselves, to the emergency room. This bill will, without doubt, do more good than any single piece of legislation passed during my (admittedly brief) lifetime. If it passes, the party that fought for it for decades deserves to feel a sense of accomplishment.
Basic passage here is a liberal win, and evidence that liberals are running the country. Channeling $900 billion towards the un- and underinsured is Jay Rockefeller's addition to the agenda, not Ben Nelson's. But structurally, liberals only have what power and influence they actually have. And that's not 60 votes' worth. The incredible organizing that's been done on the public option was, on some level, an effort to suspend that reality, and it worked a whole lot better than I thought it would. But it wasn't enough -- couldn't have been enough, really -- to overcome the math of the Senate.
Oh, Ezra, Ezra, Ezra. This has nothing whatsoever to do with math. I keep saying it: We don't need 60 votes to pass legislation. All we need is 51 votes and the political will to get it done.
Ezra says the reason the political will isn't there is because of the numbers and the inherent structure of the Senate, which is against real change. I say, bull fucking shit. Bush and the Republican Congress didn't have our numbers, and they did absolutely EVERYTHING they wanted to (except privatizing Social Security, which was never going to happen because older people are, in general, too smart to let their pockets be picked by some snotnosed fake cowboy spouting Raygunite Social Darwinist nonsense.)
In any case, Ezra advocates getting "something good" in exchange for giving up the public option. Heyyyyyy, I know. Let's allow teh wimminz to keep the reproductive rights they already had, as paltry as they were! And then, we'll end up with....the Baucus plan. No public option, no curbs whatsoever on the insurance industry, and an extremely expensive and limited health care expansion.
Huh. How do you like that? Golly gee wilikers, gosh and begorra, Erin go Bragh!
But wait! Another regressive blogger, Jane Hamsher of the activist site Firedoglake, has had an epiphany. Medicare for All, that's the way to go!
The problems in the current health care debate became apparent early on, when single payer advocates were excluded from participation. Part of that was certainly due to the fact that single payer challenges the logic underlying the entire health care reform effort: if we really cared about cutting costs and providing the best health care services, single payer would come out on top by every measure. Nobody in power wanted to have a CBO score on single payer, precisely because it would win.
But if you’re going to advocate for something that undermines the entire infrastructure of the medical industrial complex, you better lay the groundwork well. And at the time Congress took up health care, that had not happened.
So let me get this straight. After the entire regressive blogosphere claimed single-payer was impossible (in some cases, shutting down debate on single-payer by banning all discussion of it from their blogs), and chose to push the ill-defined and easily corrupted "public option" down our throats, La Hamsher is now blaming single-payer advocates for not having enough influence to change the process?!
Here's a reality check for Jane and her regressive friends: It's your fault, "sweeties." It's your fault and your Messiah's fault. If Obama had not split the left in half with his fraudulent, misogynistic campaign, we could have Moveon.org'd single-payer to national prominence. We could have gotten every single member of the left blogosphere to get on the same boat: Medicare for All. PERIOD. But since you and your fellow regressives decided to worship Obama instead of sticking to your supposed principles, there is now no unity in the blogosphere. And voila! Single-payer advocates are sticking together in small clumps, and have, indeed, been easily excluded from the national debate by the Obama for America Party.
Wow. Talk about unmitigated fucking gall.
And yet, it doesn't seem like Jane's way is working so well, does it? While single-payer advocacy seems to be pushing the idea more and more mainstream (as Jane's Road to Damascus moment seems to demonstrate), the Democratic health care kabuki theater is rolling towards its inevitable conclusion, and it seems quite clear to me that somehow, despite all the noise that so many liberal types have been making about the public option, the final bill...won't include one. Great job, peeps! All the money and access in the world, and yet, Obama isn't listening to you AT ALL.
I have a question. If these regressive bloggers were powerful enough to get Obama elected (and to hear them talk, it was all about them, baby), then why weren't they powerful enough to get Medicare for All? Why didn't they take HR 676 and run with it? Hey, if we ENDED UP with a robust public option based on Medicare and extending to 130 million people, that would be perfectly fine with me. But you don't START there. Negotiating .00001, kids.
Oh, but there's more. From what Jane says in the post, there's no plan at all to do anything about the current bill. Nothing! No write-in campaigns, no sit-ins, no street protesting or theatre, not a thing. No, her plan is to build a movement for single-payer by donating to, and electing, candidates who pledge to support single-payer. Well, that oughta get 'er done...in 20 or 30 years. Maybe. So in effect, Jane's single-payer activism would actually allow the current bills in Congress to be passed without the "public option" she has been claiming to support for the past six months. Hmmm. So the result of all of this will be...that the Baucus Bill gets passed.
Huh. How do you like that? Golly gee wilikers, gosh and begorra, Erin go Bragh!
Believe me, I understand why liberals, even Medicare-for-all supporters, would be reluctant to push against this health "insurance" reform bill, to take a stance saying, "This bill should die unless it's Medicare for All." Why? Because presumably, it will help some poor people, somehow, somewhere. And who wants to be against helping poor people? Women's rights groups were especially susceptible to this type of reasoning, as Sharon Lerner at The Nation wrote.
Even so, at least some of the Stupak problem was about how women's advocates played the game: extremely nicely. Women's groups were measured in their politics, trying hard to get along and keeping their gripes and dissatisfactions to themselves. But such good behavior rarely does well in Washington. And against the kind of strong-arm techniques that the bishops and antichoice Democrats wielded, it didn't stand a chance.
No one would be happier than I if Jane Hamsher and her fellow travelers used her big megaphone and activist base to actually mobilize for Medicare for All NOW. And hey, maybe she has a super-secret plan to End The Health Care Crapulence. But from what she says in her post, she is choosing not to do that, and in the comments, is actually alienating and banning those who have been doing what she herself has failed to do: advocate for Medicare for All, right from the beginning.
Something is very, very rotten in ObamaNation. And yes, unless you actually
oppose Obama, you're still a member of ObamaNation in my book.
Sorry, Jane, you won't be getting a dime from me unless, and until, you come up with a plan to stop the Baucus Bill in its tracks.