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Lib. Blog Buzz: Kill the bill?

From NBC's Ali Weinberg
The liberal blogosphere reacts accordingly to the moving parts on health care reform today, leveling critiques on DNC Chairman Howard Dean's "kill the bill" comments yesterday and the Senate's back-and-forth on the floor, as Republicans try to delay action by reading an amendment -- in its 767-page entirety -- before its sponsor, Bernie Sanders, pulls the amendment. Also, a few comments on Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke's being dubbed Time Magazine "Person of the Year." 

Commenting on Sanders' decision to withdraw his bill rather than allow Sen. Coburn to continue reading it in its entirety, Washington Monthly's Steve Benen writes that Sanders is "[d]emonstrating, once again, who the bigger man is... He called the GOP tactics an "outrage," which seems like the appropriate description." 

Balloon Juice's John Cole diverges with former Dean, who yesterday urged Senate Democrats to "kill" their health care bill as it stands, noting the political difficulty of starting from scratch: "How many months did it take for a bill to get out of Baucus's committee alone. How many months did it take for a bill to get out of Baucus's committee alone. On top of that, we would be treated to another six-eight months of teabaggers throwing things at congressmen, wildly inflated claims on Sarah Palin's Facebook page and the op-ed pages of the Washington Post... And then, you have to filter in that all of this would be happening in an election year, and with the notoriously timid Democrats, you have to be sniffing glue to think that the bill is going to be easier pass and more progressive."  
 
Like several other liberal bloggers, Washington Monthly's Benen links to a piece from Mother Jones' Kevin Drum, in which Drum says Dean is "living in a dreamland." Benen suggests that Dean's own plans to reform health care in 2004 were even weaker than those he is now criticizing: "Let's not forget that the existing Senate Democratic plan -- with no public option and no Medicare buy-in -- is already far more ambitious and much more progressive than what Howard Dean was proposing just five years ago," Benen writes. "Dean's 2004 health reform plan... features no competition for private insurers, fewer consumer protections, and would cover fewer of the uninsured. This is not to disparage Dean, who has done as much personally to advance the cause of health care reform as anyone in the country, but rather to highlight just how far we've come in a short period of time. In 2004, Dean, considered a liberal firebrand, offered a health care plan that even he would dismiss as weak and tepid today. If Republicans presented Dean's 2004 plan today, Democrats would laugh them out of the room."

Salon.com's Glenn Greenwald reiterates a point he made in August: that, in his opinion, the White House is choosing not to pressure centrist: "The White House seems perfectly content with what the centrists and Blue Dogs have done thus far; the only anger they have shown, as usual, is towards progressives who are demanding robust reform." He brings this post up again, relating it to Gibbs' criticism of Dean in today's briefing: Why did Gibbs never publicly criticize people like Blanche Lincoln, Ben Nelson, Joe Lieberman and the like if they were supposedly obstructing and impeding the White House's agenda on health care reform? Having a Democratic White House publicly criticize a Democratic Senator can be a much more effective pressure tactic than doing so against a former Governor who no longer holds office." 

Balloon Juice's DougJ also comments on TIME's choice of Ben Bernanke as Person of the Year: "I have nothing special against Bernanke. I think he probably deserves credit for averting financial catastrophe. But this is a pretty strong signal that elite media still worships the architects of our awesome financial system. Some things never change."

Think Progress' Yglesias also views the Bernanke pick as poignant social commentary. He writes that in spring 2009, "[Bernanke] basically unfurls a "Mission Accomplished" banner, says ten percent unemployment is okay by him, and if congress wants to do anything fiscally it should look at cutting Social Security benefits. That's not nothing. That's not the worst record of any 21st Century public official (I dunno…Robert Mugabe?) or even of any major 21st Century central banker (Jean-Claude Trichet) or any Bush administration appointee (Don Rumsfeld) or anything. But it's really not all that great. And it demonstrates a very specific class skew -- extraordinary intervention into the market place just long enough to fix the situation from the point of view of asset-owners while leaving wage-earners holding the bag. But the owners and managers and editors of Time Magazine and the companies that advertise in it probably don't care so much about that. In a lot of respects it strikes me as the most fitting possible choice, an eloquent statement about where America is in 2009."