Is There Life on Mars?

Reading through the comments under my latest Huffington Post column, there are obviously a lot of progressives who have been convinced that killing the healthcare reform bill is an excellent idea.

Accompanying the outrage against the bill, there’s a significant level of denial at play — ignoring the very long list of bad things that could happen if the bill dies.

Because the mandates and a few other items are unsavory, we seem to be far too willing to jettison the long list of positive aspects of reform. Personally, if I decide to forgo insurance and pay the $750 tax instead, and if that tax were to only go towards financing the Sanders amendment — the $10 billion to create new primary care centers, then sign me up. But that’s me. And that’s just one small part of the bill.

Kill the bill and we kill the Sanders primary care centers.

Kill the bill and we kill an expansion of Medicaid.

Kill the bill and we kill a safety net preventing new medical-related bankruptcies every 30 seconds.

Kill the bill and we kill the chance to allow kids to stay on their parents’ insurance plan until age 26.

Kill the bill and we kill the preventing tens of thousands of deaths due to a lack of insurance.

Kill the bill and we kill one of the largest government subsidy programs ever for the working and middle classes.

Kill the bill and we allow the insurance cartel to continue to discriminate against women, to deny coverage, to rescind policies, to randomly jack up premiums and out of pocket expenses.

Kill the bill and costs continue to bankrupt the country and the odds of revisiting healthcare reform inside five or ten years is remote.

That only covers a few items from the bill itself.

What about the political repercussions? If the bill is killed (or dies), history shows that the party in power will be crushed in the midterms. Are we willing to lose the Democratic majorities in Congress? As infuriating as they often are, I’d rather have Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer running things than Mitch McConnell and John McCain. (Before you reply: But Bob! They haven’t done anything with their majorities! I urge you to read this again.) And what if the Republicans succeed in taking back Congress? They won’t be repealing DOMA or passing single-payer anytime soon.

If the Republicans take over, we won’t see another healthcare reform bill for at least a decade, and, according to historical precedent, the next bill will be weaker than the current one.

It’s really easy to shout “corporatist!” and “insurance bailout!” and to sit in denial of reality. Ask the teabaggers — random populist bumper sticker lines, and non-reality-based loud noises are easy. But it’s a little more difficult to weigh the pros and cons, to examine history, to factor in political realities and political repercussions. The sooner progressives chill out and take a hard look at what we should and shouldn’t be “killing,” the better. For everyone.

Adding… Krugman just made a similar point in far fewer words, and employing the Underpants Gnome theory of deductive reasoning.

1. Reject the only bill that can be enacted any time soon.
2. ?????
3. Universal coverage!

Sigh.

Yep. I know.

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