Health care passed because progressives shut up

I knew something had been missing from the health care screaming match the last few weeks. Then I realized what it was, kind of like the roar your neighbor’s annoying lawnmower on a Sunday afternoon, that you stop hearing until you suddenly notice a sweet silence.

Where did all the progressives go? What happened to the 60 House Democrats who vowed in a letter last July they would not vote for a Senate bill without a public option? I looked over the list of 34 Democrats who joined the totalitarian House Republican bloc in voting against the bill. Not many names there from the Gang of 60. More than half the no votes came from conservative Southern and Western states, so they probably would have voted against the bill regardless of the public option.

Perhaps those progressives are hoping that a public option might come through the Congressional reconciliation process or something. But that smacks of…compromise. Parliamentary procedure. Practical politics. Such would be unworthy of True Believers who would rather see insurers continue to cancel the policies of cancer victims, then vote for a bill without a public option.

I’d like to think that progressives came to their senses. Perhaps they realized that there is never going to be a President Nader to save the day, and that even a flawed health care bill was better than shooting down the whole bill, which would have crippled health care reform for a generation (and the Obama presidency in the process). If 60 House Democrats had voted against a bill that only passed on a 219-212 party-line vote, then it would have failed. Obama would have been humiliated. Republicans would be emboldened. And the Tea Partiers? Nothing is more vicious than a mad dog that smells blood.

I’m not doing the Happy Dance over the the health care law. There are too many compromises. Too many things distasteful or corrupt. But I am happy that health care reform passed despite being opposed by as vicious an alliance of fanatics, racists and lunatics that have ever turned American politics into a freak show. That alone is worth celebrating.

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14 Responses to Health care passed because progressives shut up

  1. Zaid Jilani says:

    “I’d like to think that progressives came to their senses. Perhaps they realized that there is never going to be a President Nader to save the day, and that even a flawed health care bill was better than shooting down the whole bill, which would have crippled health care reform for a generation (and the Obama presidency in the process). If 60 House Democrats had voted against a bill that only passed on a 219-212 party-line vote, then it would have failed. Obama would have been humiliated. Republicans would be emboldened. And the Tea Partiers? Nothing is more vicious than a mad dog that smells blood.”

    Whoa whoa whoa whoa whoa.

    Progressives are the entire reason the reconciliation bill exists. They wouldn’t pass the Senate’s bill, that’s why they get a “fix” bill that improves it.

    It’s true, they didn’t even get their medium demand — a public option — and barely got mention of their maximum (single payer) , but they got a bunch of stuff through a reconciliation bill that wil be passed soon precisely because they held out. More like health care passed in a better form than it would have if progressive did not shut up.

  2. Michael Peck says:

    Sorry, Zaid. 60 Democrats vowed they would not support a health care bill without a public option. Many of them ended up voting for a bill that didn’t have a public option, and while we may eventually end up with a public plan, it’s hardly a certainty at this point. So progressives are guilty of – dare I say the word – flexibility. A quality whose lack thereof is destroying the GOP.

    Did progressives fight for and achieve some good things? Sure. It can also be argued that had the Democrats not split over the public option – a suicidal maneuver in the face a unified Republican bloc – then we might have had health care reform last fall. Snatching victory form the jaws of defeat is nothing to be proud of. Better to stay out of defeat’s jaws in the first place.

    • clintonius says:

      I love how you establishment-corporatist democrats get all giddy when progressives get pinched. “I told ya so.” The truth is, the only people fighting for the American people, against the big corporations and their juggernaut of lobbyists, is the progressives. Not the star-struck, brown nosing blue dogs who you conveniently choose NOT TO point the finger at. It’s obvious that the real enemy of reform was the blue dogs. You should be praising the progressive caucus for playing a hard line to make sure this “reform bill” wasn’t a complete sell out to the bloodsuckers. Because that’s what it was. And please continue to gloss over all the flaws in this bill. Who’s going to control costs? Write a hit piece about that and stop criticizing the only folks with a spine on capitol hill.

      • Michael Peck says:

        What “spine” did progressives show by almost destroying the only chance we’ll get at health care reform for the next 20 years? If a public option can’t be passed in 2010, why is it going to be easier in 2012 or 2016?

        Incidentally, are you a Tea Partier? “Establishment-corporatist democrats”? “Brown-nosing blue dogs”? “Selling out to the bloodsuckers?” When progressive rhetoric resembles Tea Party rhetoric, that should tell us something.

  3. ncfrommke says:

    I’m taking issue with your post, not because of your arguments, which have some merit (although it wasn’t Progressives who took a Coakley win for granted, or wasted too much time trying to deal with Olympia Snowe, or wasted too much time on the gang of six, etc.); but the tone is kind of petty. You didn’t answer Zaid’s point that Progressive pressure made the bill marginally better; since when is making policy as good as possible unpragmatic, since when is pragmatism confined to the purely political? You critisize Progressives for being, first, too flexible, then, flexible- ay least that’s how it sounds. What’s up with that? Anyhow, how was pushing for a Public Option entirely non-pragmatic when it consistently polled 55-65% voter approval? Granted, donor money does carry more weight than mere voters; but, hopefully, you’re as uncomfortable with that as those naive progressives are. Finally, you kind of delivered a kick in passing to a voting block that came through for the administration at the critical time. Everybody knows that the DLC center- which controls the money and party levers- has more than a little contempt for the Left wing of the party. It might be smart to button that up a bit- feelings matter, as any political pragmatist would tell you. After you’re going to need them (and us) in the future, especially when the Blue Dogs that got the kid-glove handling find out that voting against the signature Democratic legislation of the decade won’t help a lot of them keep their seats.

    • Michael Peck says:

      Good points. But if progressives only made the bill marginally better, was it worth jeopardizing the entire bill for them? A 219-212 vote is not a comfortable margin. I’m not criticizing progressives for being flexible, but rather for being inflexible until the last minute. With a solid Democratic majority in both houses of Congress, this bill should have been a slam-dunk in the fall. The Democratic leadership made a mistake by looking for bipartisanship (a reasonable idea at first) long after it was clear that even moderate Republicans would vote against it. The progressives made a mistake by pushing for something that they lacked the political muscle to achieve. In that sense, public opinion (or rather public opinion polls, which fluctuate all the time) don’t matter. Either progressives had the votes – which pretty much means that Democratic legislators had to vote as a bloc against GOP + Blue Dog legislators – or they don’t.

      It’s not that I disagree with the progressive stand on the health care bill. A lot of them make sense. But after what happened in ’94, and seeing the 2010 bill pass by only seven votes, I’m happy with what we’ve got. Sometimes it takes more courage to accept half a loaf.

  4. captbob says:

    The list of signatories does not represent a list of “progressives.” I’m not sure that “Progressives” exist.

    Straw dog. That list represents sort of lefty folks from less than powerful districts that possess some progressive opinions. But NONE of them ran on a “progressive” ticket.

    If you need an excuse to fill some bandwidth, ok, I get it. But to make up some “progressive” coalition in the House, and then say it somehow silenced itself, is pure fiction.

    I want some of what you’re smokin’

    • Michael Peck says:

      Interesting. If you’re right, and it’s wrong to speak of a progressive bloc in Congress, then this suggests that progressives are a minor political force.

      • Kim Lancaster says:

        Hey Peck! Aren’t you going to ask ncfrommeke if he is a Tea Partier? I enjoy your posts and most of the time agree with your conclusions, but your snide question was bad form. Let’s discuss, not flame.

      • Michael Peck says:

        Didn’t mean to come across as snide (though sometimes I am guilty of being a little impatient). But phrases like “establishment-corporatist Democrat” are just name-calling. I have no idea what an establishment-corporatist Democrat is, what one has to do to earn such a label, and the name sounds no different than “Obamanazi”.

      • Kim Lancaster says:

        I must apologise, I thought you were still responding to Zaid in that post. This comment software is slow/defective and sometimes it is difficult to linearly follow all of the thread. I had the wrong context and didn’t see where the Tea Party connect was coming from. I do now. Thanks for your blog, you are writing good, relevant stuff.

      • clintonius says:

        How would you describe Democrats who make back room deals with the pharmaceutical companies? Or how would you describe Evan Bayh, my senator, whose own wife sits on the board of Wellpoint. Or how would you describe Max Baucus, whose top donors are health insurance and big pharma companies. Or how would you describe Ben Nelson, who has raised more than 2million$$ campaigning as a Senator for Nebraska.

        It is my belief that Obama (Rahm) gave these people a pass and instead went and twisted the arms of progressives like Kucinich.

        How is the label “establishment-corporatist-democrat” as you say, “just name calling?” You’re the guy blaming progressives when you should be using your ink to expose the real culprits….which makes you an accomplice of sorts.

      • clintonius says:

        I know. Forgot some question marks. Apologies.

  5. libtree09 says:

    yes they are a minor political force…they didn’t get a public option, they have to wait on Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, Gitmo is open, the fat terrorist is not going to be tried in New York, too big to fail is too big to regulate, carbon emissions are still been pumped out, there are still two wars costing us a fortune, the pentagon is still a wasteful money pit…So Peck you think this is the liberal phoenix rising from the ashes? We as are party are still pro-business, pro-wall street, pro-Nafta, pro off shoring and beholden to lobbyists and industry. We have 60 possible liberals in the entire congress…whoopie. We have a long way to go to be back to the pro labor, pro worker party, before we again defend the poor and disenfranchised. The age of Reagan is still upon us. The only thing democrats haven’t done yet was drive ourselves off the cliff like the republicans. I’m a liberal and there is but a few in congress who share my views. No one is reinstating FDR safeguards, no one is creating a manufacturing policy to regain our lost industries, no one is auditing the fed or the pentagon, no one is investigating criminal behavior in our financial sector and no one is raising taxes on the 1% of our richest citizens who control 90% of our GNP. That’s what a liberal will do.

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