Today’s installment of What Paul Krugman Said:
A message to House Democrats: This is your moment of truth. You can do the right thing and pass the Senate health care bill. Or you can look for an easy way out, make excuses and fail the test of history.
Tuesday’s Republican victory in the Massachusetts special election means that Democrats can’t send a modified health care bill back to the Senate. That’s a shame because the bill that would have emerged from House-Senate negotiations would have been better than the bill the Senate has already passed. But the Senate bill is much, much better than nothing. And all that has to happen to make it law is for the House to pass the same bill, and send it to President Obama’s desk.
[S]ome Democrats want to just give up on the whole thing. That would be an act of utter political folly. It wouldn’t protect Democrats from charges that they voted for “socialist” health care — remember, both houses of Congress have already passed reform. All it would do is solidify the public perception of Democrats as hapless and ineffectual.
And, let me just add: this asinine idea that you can chop the bill up into component parts is both functionally impossible and utterly improbable. So: the GOP is suddenly going to agree to operate in the best interests of the public? Since when? Seriously, when was the last incident of the GOP acting as though it had any responsibility re: actually governing. Name it. I’d seriously like to know. You could offer them full revocation of all taxes, closure of the IRS, and immediate shuttering of 85% of all government offices outside military and interstate highways and they’d still say: Hells No. Even better, from their entirely predictable point of view: the chop-it-up approach then ties up all legislative action for MONTHS as you serially run the mini-bills out for failed vote after failed vote after failed vote. All of which, of course, end in giant collective failure and a total lack of action on the things people are hopping mad about: the banks, Wall Street reforms, and jobs initiatives. Which, not coincidentally, are precisely the issues the Democrat could utterly crucify the 41-vote GOP with for the next eight or so months, right up until the 2010 mid-terms.They are AGAINST all of those things. And will vote to prove it. Unfortunately, they won’t be given the chance.
What part of the months-long slow-roll of the “negotiations” that went on from August to December of last year have the Democrats suddenly forgotten? The GOP wanted no part of compromise or some mythical “centrist” option. They DO NOT WANT TO PASS HEALTH REFORM OF ANY KIND, no matter what its shape, size, composition, font, paper quality, or decorative binding may be. Repeat: THE GOP is FUNDAMENTALLY and COMPLETELY against ANY REFORM. Full fucking stop.
Democrats, you’ve got two choices:
- Pass the fucking thing. You ALREADY DID. Those votes counted, you know. Pass, fail or abandon, those votes will hang around your necks like so many albatrosses. Better to have a useful outcome to point to than, you know, more months of utterly feckless failures.
- Pass a substantial expansion of Medicare and Medicaid, with Medicare buy-in over, say 45 or 50, paid for by some version of the Cadillac Tax on the wealthy. You know, what Ezra said. This would represent a substantial step forward, and can, without a doubt, go through reconciliation and would be a major fucking achievement that could start the day the bill was signed and, more importantly, people would actually like.
That’s it. Those are your choices. Why this is so fucking hard to understand after the display across the last 10 or more years up there is well and truly beyond me.
Fuck this up and it’s over. Democrats will be functionally out of power in 2010, totally out in 2012; Obama recalled as little more than Carter2. I’d say the odds for this outcome are pretty much 80/20 in favor of exactly that happening. If only the Democrat had a powerful leader with charisma and a strong public following. Somebody like that could take charge of this cluster fuck, start giving legislative marching orders, and navigate the turbulent political waters. But that guy has Rahm fucking Emanuel whispering in his ear. Odds go to at least 85/15.