Wednesday, January 20, 2010

A Real Plan B - Understanding The Senate Bill Is Part Of The Problem

By TalkLeft's Big Tent Democrat TL

Jacob Hacker and Daniel Hopkins write:

Forget the question of whether a Republican Senate victory in Massachusetts spells the end of health reform. It doesn't -- unless Democrats let it. The Senate has already passed a bill that is far from perfect but far better than nothing. [. . .] [T]he House should simply enact it in return for strong commitments from President Obama and Democratic leaders that they will fight to improve the bill in the future, including through the filibuster-proof budget process.

There are a few problems with this Plan B. Politically, the Senate bill is NOT "far better than nothing." (As to whether it is "far better than nothing" policy-wise, that is a matter of irrelevant opinions - no group of voters thinks so.) First, let's mention a word that Dem Villagers seem to have forgotten - UNIONS. There is nothing good for unions in the Senate bill. There is a lot bad in the bill for unions. Democrats need unions to work for them - especially in off year elections. "In the future" means what exactly? If it does not mean before the November elections, then it is meaningless. The unions' concerns need to be addressed BEFORE November.

Second, outside of the Village, there is no constituency of VOTERS for the Senate bill. No one is energized in favor of it and Republicans are strongly energized against it. It is, at best, only a slight harm to Dems' chances in November 2010. (You notice I keep mentioning that date?) and guess what? November 2010 is when the next election is going to be.

Third, at this point, "commitments" and "promises" from Obama and the Democrats are not likely to carry much weight with Dem constituencies. One of the reasons for that, for better or worse, is the Senate health bill. Why? Because Barack Obama ran strongly against many of the elements in the bill (excise tax, individual mandates) and strongly for many of the elements that have been left out of the bill (public option, progressive tax on the wealthy, employer mandate.) Indeed Hacker and Hopkins write:

[W]hen the public is polled about the specifics of the health-care bills, its key elements are consistently popular. These include a requirement on employers to provide coverage, progressive taxes to fund reform and tough regulations on health insurers. Perhaps the most popular element -- the public option -- is in the House bill but not the Senate bill, and, therefore, it's off the table.
This paragraph actually tells the tale. There is no employer mandate in the Senate bill. There is no progressive tax to pay for reform -- instead there is an excise tax which is extremely unpopular with all voters, but especially with the unions. There is no public option. There are no "tough regulations" (unless you believe that leaving the states to enforce these tough regulations" is gonna work) on health insurers in the Senate bill. This paragraph form Hacker and Hopkins actually illustrates why Plan B can not be "just pass the Senate bill." The Senate bill is part of the problem.

The Establishment Dems and Village Dems are truly oblivious to the damage that the Senate bill has done. They think all will be solved by passing it. If THAT is the lesson learned from Massachusetts, the Democrats are sure to be defeated badly in November 2010.

Speaking for me only