Friday, August 21, 2009

A Thread of Hope?

OK. Did you find yesterday's post a bit too gloomy? Never say that I don't consider the feelings of my few but loyal readers. In the spirit of lifting the black pall of gloom over the prospects for healthcare reform, I'm willing to give equal time to something I wish I had more of around me: an optimist. The piece is by Robert Borosage and it appeared in The Huffington Post a couple of days ago. Basically what Borosage argues is that the real sticking point for the Democrats on health care is not the nut cases out in the town meetings. It's certainly not Republicans. Reminding us once again that by the numbers, the Democrats do not need GOP votes in the Senate or House, he focuses instead on what he describes as a truly attenuated minority of Democrats in the Senate, the so-called blue dogs. And despite what they say, he contends, these guys are not going to sink Obama's healthcare effort simply to make a point.
Why would a handful of Blue Dogs get in the way of a unified position? A government plan as an option isn't a difficult political vote. The hard choice is voting for any comprehensive reform -- and they will pay a much higher political price for failing to produce than for voting for a public option. The only reason to block a plan is either ideological rigidity, or the corrupting influence of insurance company contributions. In this circumstance, citizen mobilization can help educate the recalcitrant on the need to join the president and the majority of the party.
Well, before we break out the champagne over the unassailable cogency of this argument, mark "the corrupting influence of insurance company contributions" well. As well as "citizen mobilization." Moreover, there is a very strong possibility that the Democrats will not have the votes of either 91-year-old Robert Byrd (WV) or ailing Ted Kennedy (MA), old warhorses who have been too sick to be present throughout the debate till now. Which means, of course, that they will have to scrape up two Republican votes for their health care reform plan. How comfortable are you with this notion? I'm not very. In short, much as I would like to embrace it, this argument still hangs on threads.
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