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Hullabaloo


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

 
QOTD: Will Wilkinson


by digby


How many floggings does it take to expect the Spanish Inquisition?


I have already been ungracious enough about this with my annoying "I told you sos" but, honestly, this is just depressing at this point. Yes, the Democrats should have expected a monumental GOP push back against health care reform. Why? Because of this, from Bill Kristol in 1993:
"Health care will prove to be an enormously healthy project for Clinton... and for the Democratic Party." So predicts Stanley Greenberg, the president's strategist and pollster. If a Clinton health care plan succeeds without principled Republican opposition, Mr. Greenberg will be right. Because the initiative's inevitably destructive effect on American medical services will not be practically apparent for several years--no Carter-like gas lines, in other words--its passage in the short run will do nothing to hurt (and everything to help) Democratic electoral prospects in 1996. But the long-term political effects of a successful Clinton health care bill will be even worse--much worse. It will relegitimize middle-class dependence for "security" on government spending and regulation. It will revive the reputation of the party that spends and regulates, the Democrats, as the generous protector of middle-class interests. And it will at the same time strike a punishing blow against Republican claims to defend the middle class by restraining government.


They understand very clearly what's at stake for them. And they have built a very efficient infrastructure to ensure that their goals are met and liberals' aren't. It's that simple.

Anyway, as we wait for the Supremes to issue their ruling, here's an excellent piece of advice from Rich Yeselson about next steps:

In their understandable haste to pass some kind of universal health care law, however imperfect, liberals, Democrats, and President Obama himself missed the fundamental first step: They failed to clinch the moral argument that — unlike iPads or Toyotas — health insurance is a right, an essential element for both physical health and economic well-being.

Now even if the Supreme Court sustains some or all of the law, conservatives at the federal and state level will do everything they can to delay and disrupt it — at least until the moral argument is as unassailable as stop signs on our streets.
[...]
So the moral issue must be joined in the most aggressive fashion possible. Not so much by showing empathy for the uninsured—liberals are always wonderful at showing empathy. No, by belligerently challenging conservative pundits and Republican politicians at every opportunity, reminding them how lucky they are to have health care themselves...Progressives must keep reminding conservatives, “You’ve got health insurance—do you really think you’re somehow entitled to it, yet others aren’t? For shame.”


I have my doubts about the ability to shame the modern conservatives. After all, they weren't too upset to see people cheering and shouting "yeah!" at a presidential debate when Wolf Blitzer asked if Ron Paul's plan was to "let them die." But what the hell, maybe they still have a shred of decency about this sort of thing that can be activated.

But I am not letting the Democrats and the president off the hook so easily. Health care reform was in the works for decades. Universality was always the assumed goal of comprehensive health care reform until the political decision was made to make it about cost. That wasn't done on the fly, it was a conscious choice to back away from the moral argument in favor of a technocratic financial argument. At no time did they even try to pass real universal health care.

Now, I understand why they did it. The Republicans, after all, had been going along with a privatized health care solution based on those technocratic reasons until the day the Democrats looked like they might actually pass it. But without the moral argument, there was just not much to hold thing thing together, once the conservatives went their way (as anyone should have expected.)

Throughout the health care process I was arguing for the principle of universality. Way back when I wrote:

I never understood why universal coverage wasn't the explicit goal of health care reform and the principle on which the whole thing rested. But it wasn't. (Even the reform as finally passed fell quite a bit short, although it wasn't bad.) The goals were fairness and cost savings, which isn't quite the same thing, so the government funded portion of the bill was always the most vulnerable. I've always been skeptical that those provisions would be safe. And now that we are joining the global austerity crusade, I expect there will be tremendous pressure to starve this program or at the very least delay the implementation. Certainly the Republicans will do away with it the minute they get the chance. They can always be counted upon to stick it to poor people.


Undocumented workers are already out and if the funding for Medicaid is whittled away --- as is happening right now --- you wind up with the ACA covering less than half the currently uninsured.

The ACA was, even when fully implemented, not guaranteed universal health care (which is why I was always so irritated with the ecstatic victory dances implying it was.)There are many ways to get there, but what we should care about is that it is simple,seamless, universal and can't be taken away. That is, after all, what we believe in, right?



Update: In fact, if the Supremes strike down the law altogether, I'd go further and come out swinging with this. What the hell? Might as well stake out a real left position this time instead of an insider strategy. It didn't serve us well.

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