Per mcjoan at Daily Kos, I think it is important to re-emphasize that I’m not whipping the health care bill because I think that it’s perfect. Compared to what could have been, I wouldn’t even call it great. Here are three reasons why I will still go to the mat for it.
(1) Policy. Whatever you think about good ideas that never had a serious hearing, the bill unquestionably improves the status quo, in many cases by a country mile. Eliminating rescissions and pre-existing condition denials would by itself represent one of the most profound heath care reforms in U.S. history. Even Mary f*cking Matalin acknowledged as much two nights ago on Colbert. The individual mandate is just a necessary mechanism to make the other two elements work; otherwise people would only buy insurance when they get sick. As Ezra points out here student loan reforms make the package significantly better still.
(2) Politics. This bill truly is a do-or-die moment for the Democratic party. If we lose this vote, Democrats will spend the year looking, acting and feeling like losers. Press narratives will debate for months which of the party’s many defects proved the fatal one. Half the party will uselessly search for rocks large enough to hide under. Scared? Now flip that around. The GOP might have made a major mistake with the frantic and hysterical timbre of its opposition. If Democrats win then Republicans as much as anyone will have cemented the idea that Obama scored a massive, thundering political victory.
Imagine that the party gets a taste for winning legislative fights. Now every other aspect of the progressive agenda will get easier to pass. It will get harder for Mitch McConnell for hold his caucus together as effectively while centripetal forces of vindictive teabaggers and frightened moderates messily tear the right apart. Reid and Pelosi will almost certainly find it easier to peel off Republican votes if they win this one.
(3) Us. I honestly cannot say whether, without relentless pressure from you guys, Dems would still have stepped back from the abyss. I can tell you that it unquestionably made a difference. A number of Reps took the courage to talk about health care again, public option and all, because their phones finally lit up with positive voices to counter the constant chatter from angry wingnuts. Numerous staffers have told me that your calls made an impact. Many of you have heard it yourselves.
This fight engaged an entire class of people for the first time. It made many Congresspeople more conscious of their left flank than most have ever felt. It’s fun to make a difference. When this is done, assuming that it gets done, what do you say we do something about ENDA and DADT? We can also get frisky about Guantanamo and accountability for torture. You already know the numbers to call.
Some very good arguments made in the comments that the bill is not so much awful-plus-great as it is not quite as good as many people wanted. Now the more I think about this analogy the more I like it. Some people really love a two-layer rueben with hot mustard on rye, and some people (inexplicably) hate it. Most people, however, will at least put up with peanut butter. Allergies permitting of course.