Steve McMahon Is So Wrong

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.

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10 thoughts on “Steve McMahon Is So Wrong

  1. Republicans are fighting tooth and nail against anything that might be hugely successful, because if something like a single-payer (sadly out) or public option gets voted in and becomes a winner, they are losers for the next generation, much as their beloved party of “No!” was after FDR passed Social Security.
    That’s why they, and their allies in the AMA and Big Pharma, want to put some brakes on this. If we listen to the David Broder’s of the press, and get a bi-partisan mish-mash of confusing and ineffective solutions, they win. They can then point out how lame the change was, and how Democrat’s couldn’t “bring home the bacon.”
    We need major change, not a little tweak or tune-up. And the Steve mcMahon’s of the world need to STHU! (I sometimes to wonder who pays the real salaries of these “Democratic” strategists’s). If Obama listened to these tone-deaf moron’s over the past two years, he would still be in DC as the Junior Senator from Illinois.
    We DON’T NEED 60 votes, people. All we need is 50, with Biden casting the deciding vote. Would it look better if we got 80 votes? Yeah! But that ain’t gonna happen. In sports, a win is a win; whether it’s by a single score or a dozen. We need this win to help change this country.

  2. “This is, I think, the absolute worst thing that Congress could do.”

    Which is why I think it highly likely that this is exactly what they will do. Sorry, but after six years of living in Germany and observing the U.S. from a European perspective I’ve become even cynical than when I lived there.
    My wife asked me after the election if I thought Obama would be able to change anything. I answered, “If congress lets him, it’s possible.” It’s a shame that he’s going to have to fight his own party to get anything done.

  3. Health care without a public option is not going to make health care available to every American. Universal health care is not negotiable.

  4. Ma’am….words more true have never been spoken! The hardball segment you speak of made me so frustrated I turned off the tv and found something more meaningful and less frustrating (which turned out to be using the pooper scooper in the back yard) to do.

    It got me to thinking that we should do a reality show from GITMO called “I am a politician! Get me out of here!!!!” These pundits and politicians don’t have a CLUE what the real world is like. They are soooo far removed from what it is like to struggle, to go to bed sick, alone and afraid because you can’t go get help.If they KNEW what it was like the story would be so much different if they ever once went to bed worried about a sick child they couldn’t afford to provide medical care for.

    When I got very sick and was living in a homeless shelter just over a year ago I was told to go to a certain hospital where they take people with no insurance. These people act like I could just go there for free care! No worries. But that is SOOOOOOO not true. I did not go and still wont. I have news for the crowd that says no one has to do without medical care….A BIG ASS BILL that I couldn’t pay still comes. I couldn’t make a bill I couldn’t pay and would later get sued for!So I suffered instead( and still do because I never really got better with no treatment) .I am so not alone. I work….damn hard too..but my company offers no insurance..I look for other jobs and in this economy you can guess how that is going.

    In my 24 years as a married housewife with no job outside the home I had health insurance and my husband earned a comfortable middle class living and we lived modest in a home below our means, with cars we have had for decades and very little if any credit card debt and STILL couldn’t have afforded medical care WITH insurance had something terrible happened.Those who fight against true reform do so for political reasons, and not the good of those they were elected to serve….too sad!

  5. Steve McMahon has been in DC too long, I think, and has absorbed the ‘give in to get along’ codependency ethos of the Democratic leadership in the darkest of the Bush years. It’s time to stop ‘compromising’ with Republicans who are insincere and never give anything.

    I’m trying to follow his reasoning: we only have a limited window to pass a health care reform bill, so we should pass any bill we can, and just call it health care reform?

    Not, like, pass some actual health care reform in this window?

    As if people didn’t just vote in a new administration because we were tired of giveaways to polluters labeled as “Clear Skies”, a murderous corporate giveaway labeled as a war against WMD, and other such scams?

    Hello? People aren’t so stupid, and the whole point of the “window” is to do something real, not make nice with insurance lobbyists.

    I’d just like to remind all these “compromise” guys that we’ve already compromised in the interests of passing a bill, from day one: single-payer was taken off the table. That’s as much compromising as I’m willing to do with people who have no serious interest in seeing a bill pass at all, and who we can reasonably expect to vote against any bill anyway, no matter how we trim it to please them.

  6. I think a compromise on this will make the situation worse. It will give the people in Washington, Dem and Rep, the campaign sound bite they want while further complicating the system. When the situation gets to even a more crisis situation than it is now, it will be just that much more difficult to reform. Our health care system needs FUNDAMENTAL change, not tweaking at the edges. After seeing the Dems compromise and give away huge majorities that the Reps never had under Bush, I am having serious doubts that we really have a governmental system that can deal with the issues in our society. If Obama pulls this off I will be duly impressed, but I have my doubts.

  7. 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.

    No s**t. Great blog. I am looking forward to some new “government-should-make-a-difference” talking point, so pure and simple. I wonder whether it stands a chance of seeing the light of day?

    The latest rightee talking point is that there would be enough money to insure everyone if people would take personal responsibility for their health by forgoing fast food and quitting smoking. The conclusion one is supposed to take from this faulty framing is that we cannot reward those people. Why is there always an undeserving those people that appeals to our baser instincts? So why didn’t they start their personal responsibility inducements on the insured years ago? …rather than on the 40 million uninsured Americans with same mix of healthy/unhealthy habits as the insured remainder? This just sounds like yet another lame attempt to focus ire on another demographic subgroup.

    The traditional talking point has been that corporate America is so efficient that they can do a better job for less but they don’t use that one so much anymore since the financial industry meltdown and automaker bankruptcies.

    So what are they really afraid of? They should welcome the competition if they’re so darn good. They weren’t going to insure those 40 million anyway so why the sudden outpouring of concern for those at risk?

    They do however yelp an awful lot about socialism at government participation in even the needs of citizens that corporate America will not touch. To listen to them you’d think we were on the verge of Stalinism but this makes me wonder once again what their real reasons are (from Atlantic Monthly).

    When we hear this kind of thinly transparent reasoning we are not hearing from the American people but rather the concentrated wealth of the smallest minority who can pay for media megaphones that drown out all other voices.

    It’s unthinkable to corporate America that the legislators whose campaigns they’ve financed would return the favor by offering reasonable cost competition. They fear this like nothing else while arguing everything else but their real reasons.

    I agree that partisanship for partisanship’s sake can sink this worthy cause. I’d rather see the same kind of detractors-be-damned attitude exhibited by Bush albeit for this fundamentally progressive cause. In the end the people will be behind it and conservatives will have as hard a time undoing it as they had with social security.

    If our weak-kneed Congresspersonas cannot cut it then we can get busy seeking out their replacements.

  8. Isn’t it clear that what corporate America is objecting to is the existence of a money flow from subscribers to hospitals, doctors and other healthcare workers that does not pass through the hands of an insurance company?

    For the longest time they’ve apparently been just fine with that commerce with inherent multipliers not being added to our economy while 40 million American’s remaining at-risk. But now that there’s possibility of government making it happen where they’ve been either unable or unwilling the prospects of being denied insertion of their own money spigot into the pipeline really has them going.

    Any government success will expose them as being as useless as a lot of the finance industry has been to actual production and services.

  9. 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.

    And plant the Democratic Party firmly in the the Monied Wing of American politics in the mind of the public. There are actions and unactions which can lead voters only to conclude that there’s no party in Washington which gives a rip about how the non-uberwealthy fare.

    Oh, just any old messed up “public option” will not work; it has to be real and actually help people. Otherwise, forget it. Nothing is better than mandates to offer ourselves up to the Big For-Profit Insurance Parasites.

    If real healthcare reform isn’t passed, the Dems’ successes of the past few years may be wiped out. I’m not sure where people will go–into apathy? rejection? to the “populist” right?

    I don’t think I could support the Monied Wing of the Democratic Party any longer.

    Where, oh where, are the Democrats of the Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party??

  10. The arguments in opposition to a single-payer system are fascinating. “You don’t want the government between you and your doctor.” (No, I want the insurance business between my doctor and me.) “You don’t want the government rationing your health care.” (No, I want the insurance business rationing my health care.) “You don’t want the governent deciding which medical procedures or care it will pay for.” (No, I want the insurance business to makes those decisions.)

    Equally fascinating is how Canada, and sometimes Britain, have become the poster children for the ills of universal health-care while France, which happens to have the best one of all the industrialized nations, is never mentioned – especially since France is the designated country we Americans are instructed to hate – which would make it the logical poster child.

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