From NBC's Domenico Montanaro
If Jacob Hacker endorsed the Senate health bill, then do liberals really have a leg to stand on anymore?
Hacker, after all, is the creator of the idea of a "public option." The Yale professor wrote on Jonathan Cohn's The Treatment blog on The New Republic's Web site -- under the headline, "Why I still believe in this bill" -- while "it would be tempting" to say the bill should be killed "it would be wrong."
He lists several reasons:
(1) "opportunities for serious health reform have come only rarely and fleetingly;"
(2) "Many Americans will be gravely hurt by the delay;"
(3) Obama, "the most progressive president of my generation ... will be handed a crippling loss;" and
(4) Democrats "will be branded as unable to govern."
The public option was always a means to an end: real competition for insurers, an alternative for consumers to existing private plans that does not deny needed care or shift risks onto the vulnerable, the ability to provide affordable coverage over time. I thought it was the best means within our political grasp. It lay just beyond that grasp. Yet its demise--in this round--does not diminish the immediate necessity of those larger aims. And even without the public option, the bill that Congress passes and the President signs could move us substantially toward those goals.
As weak as it is in numerous areas, the Senate bill contains three vital reforms. First, it creates a new framework, the "exchange," through which people who lack secure workplace coverage can obtain the same kind of group health insurance that workers in large companies take for granted. Second, it makes available hundreds of billions in federal help to allow people to buy coverage through the exchanges and through an expanded Medicaid program. Third, it places new regulations on private insurers that, if properly enforced, will reduce insurers' ability to discriminate against the sick and to undermine the health security of Americans. These are signal achievements, and they all would have been politically unthinkable just a few years ago.
Cohn and Ezra Klein, the left-leaning writer at the Washington Post who has followed the health care debate closely, also favor passing the bill.
In addition to Hacker, Howard Dean seemed to change his tone a bit on Meet the Press this Sunday. While he still advocated for the public option and opposed the Senate bill, he did call the Senate bill "improved." And when pressed by the moderator, NBC's David Gregory, "[W]ithout the public option, is your position say no to the bill?" Dean left some wiggle room.
"My position is let's see what they add to this bill and make it work," Dean said. "If they can make it work without a public option, I'm all ears. I don't think that's possible."
Here's the full video of Dean on Meet the Press. A clip is below:
Still, many of the Left's amplifiers are still railing against the bill.
I don't think this is a reform bill. I mean, I think it's very clear, this is not insurance or healthcare reform. What it is, it's allowing more people, 30 million people, to buy into the existing broken system. It's very important to keep in mind that healthcare insurance is not the same as health care. Insurance, not the same as care. If you go up to Massachusetts, they have a, a mandate as well, and last year 21 percent of people in Massachusetts could not get health care because they could not afford it. Even though they had insurance, the premiums--not the premiums, the deductibles, copays and out-of-pocket expenses were too high. So really, this isn't reform. It's expanding the system, it's almost rewarding the existing system. Now, what is important about this is that it actually puts the federal government, puts America on the place to say health care is a right, it's not a privilege to just those who are--who can afford it or who are lucky enough to have a good job that has good benefits. But as far as reform goes, I think this is a long battle that we have ahead of us.
Liberal blogger Jame Hamsher of Firedoglake fired off a Christmas-worthy Top 10 reasons to oppose the bill.
MSNBC's Keith Olbermann devoted one of his "Special Comments" to opposing the Senate bill. "Seeking the least common denominator, Sen. Reid has found it, especially the 'least' part," Olbermann writes. "This is not health, this is not care, this is certainly not reform."
Here's the full video of Olbermann. A clip is below:
But these are hard arguments to sustain when the father of the public option isn't with them, aren't they?