I didn't mean to spend nearly my entire day reading up on health care reform, but that's how it happened. And, at the end of all that reading, I've made up my mind: the Senate reform bill is not the root of all evil. In fact, while it's got lots and lots of room for improvement, it's actually not looking too horrible.
The man who conceived the public option's not thrilled, but he still believes in the bill (h/t).
TNR's Jonathan Cohn chased down some numbers, and likes what he sees.
Paul Krugman's not joyful, but relieved.
But, as it turns out, it isn't those sober analyses that turned me from meh to hey, why not. It was Jane Hamsher and her 10-point crusade against the reform bill that turned the tide.
Jonathan Cohn knocked her points one and three out of the park.
Ezra Klein knocked out all ten.
If all that prose is too dense, Igor Volsky made up a nice, colorful chart.
And Daily Kos blogger deaniac83 read over the list of ten, investigated, and decided that the bill must pass.
At about this point, I threw up my hands and said, "So be it. Let it pass. On to conference!"
Now, mind you, I have quibbles. Many quibbles. And that is why I'm looking forward to conference, and why I hope Jane Hamsher and her ilk keep charging with spears at the ready. Y'see, an enraged crowd of powerful progressives attempting to kill the bill dead will probably haul the thing further to the left than we might have expected, and that is very much to the good. In fact, if Jane Hamsher ran for Senate, I'd work for her campaign, for the simple reason she's wisely insane. Can you imagine her playing chicken with Lieberman and Nelson in the Senate? I don't think she'd be the one dodging in the end. And having a crazy, implacable progressive kicking up a fuss would be a fine bargaining tool for Senators and a President who might want something a little bit more leftish but don't want to blow their centrist cover. "Well, we would've made it less progressive, and we'd really like to give in to you, Ben and Joe, but... Jane might rip our faces off and feed them to Tom Coburn if we concede any more to you. So, you see, we can't. So sorry."
That's the kind of progressives we need to work like hell to elect, my darlings: the ones that know that the art of negotiation means a) make insane demands and b) don't back down from them until you've gotten what you actually wanted.
And it'll be more important than ever to elect them after health care reform passes, because we're gonna want improvements. We ain't gonna get them with a Con majority or the current batch of Conservadems and cowed Progs.
Incidentally, those of you who think the public option's dead if reform passes without it need to talk to Sen. Harkin. Then redouble your efforts to get better Dem butts in those Senate seats.
But even if we don't manage that, and have to live with what we get for a bit, the Senate bill's not actually all that bad a beginning. Seriously. And I say that as someone who's had to make the decision between health care and putting food on the table in the past. If my cushy union job goes adios, and this legislation is law, I'll have a better net than COBRA. So if you ask me what's in it for me, that's it: I'll no longer have to worry that my pre-existing conditions and the high cost of health care will mean I'm SOL if I'm bounced back to retail. That's a comfort. And it's good enough to get started with.
Another factor in convincing me that this bill's worth passing is how shit-scared it makes Cons. I mean, it's seriously to the point where they're praying for Sen. Byrd to die. That's pretty fucking pathetic. And now, here they are, knowing they've lost but obstructing till the bitter end just cuz. Fine by me. It gives Hamsher and her mob of howling progressives time to scare the Dems into shuffling left. Besides, maybe they'll drive more of their own legislators from their ranks. And that's a happy thought.
Do you know how pathetic Cons have become? McCain's having to snivel lies that Dems never reached out to Cons (uh, Gang of Six? Constant fucking phone calls to Snowe? Delayed for months while you fucknuggets played coy? Heeelllloooo!). Oh, and whining that Teddy Kennedy would've wanted a bipartisan bill (betcha he wouldn't have minded a unicorn, either, but in the end he'd settle for a pony). Huck feels that Ben Nelson betrayed him (funny thing we have in common with the Cons, there - Ben Nelson betrayed us, too!).
I'm amused. I can't wait to see the looks on their dear little faces when they lose this fight. And they will lose. Oh, there'll be sturm und drang and more histrionics from the Ben and Joe floor show, there may even be a progressive march on Washington complete with flaming torches, but in the end, health care reform shall pass.
And then the work of turning the starter home into a castle will begin.