I caught the segment in the video below on Hardball yesterday. If you don’t want to watch, it’s a discussion among Tweety, Democratic strategist Steve McMahon and Republican strategist Todd Harris. McMahon thinks the Democratic Party should cut the public insurance option from the health care reform package and pass a “compromise” bill without it.
McMahon thinks the health care package won’t pass with the public insurance option but could pass without it. He thinks it’s better for Congress to pass something it can call “health care reform” now rather than have the whole effort defeated because of the public insurance option. We have a window of opportunity to pass a health care reform bill, he says, and if we miss this window and pass nothing there may not be another chance for years.
My thinking is just the opposite. If Congress passes a bill without the public insurance option, it will confirm the darkest beliefs of Americans about government being irrelevant to their lives. I sincerely believe that the rest of the legislation might make some marginal improvements in the system. It might make a tangible difference for a few people. But it would do nothing that will make a big, tangible difference in the lives of most American citizens.
So if they pass this bill without the public insurance option, there will be a big whoop-dee-doo in media about how now everybody’s got health care reform. And the days and weeks and months will go by, and most people won’t notice that anything has changed.
This is, I think, the absolute worst thing that Congress could do. It would be better to let the whole thing be defeated, then go to the American people and say, look, we tried to get you this meaningful reform, but Republicans and Blue Dog Democrats blocked it. And, yeah, that’s a lame excuse. But I think rank and file Dems, and many Independents, are sick to death of these pathetic tweaks that Washington mistakes for accomplishments but which don’t make any real difference in the lives of Americans.
In the long run, whether a bill was passed with bipartisan support or not will mean absolutely nothing. If a bill passes that really does relieve many of our fears of losing our insurance and being dumped out of the health care system altogether, that bill will be very popular. Before long, politicians who didn’t support it will pretend that they did. There’s your bipartisan support.
On the other hand, a “compromise” bill passed with everyone in Congress holding hands and singing “Koom By Ya,” but which does not make a tangible difference in peoples’ lives, won’t mean a bucket of warm spit by the time the next elections roll around.