Democracy Soup

Making sense out of the world of politics

Should We Even Bother with Health Care Legislation if There Is No Government Option?

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Originally published on on Wed, 06/24/2009 – 9:41am

President Obama says we will get health care legislation by the end of the year. He keeps saying it. The president said it again this morning to Diane Sawyer on “Good Morning America.”

“We’re gonna get it done. So, I won’t engage in hypotheticals in which we don’t. And the reason it’s gonna get done is because the American people understand it has to get done. … Every town I visit, every city I go, people ask me, … ‘Why is it that my premiums have gone up– two, three times in the last nine, 10 years?’ … I’m confident that if everybody puts their minds to it, we can get it done.”

Obama was talking with Sawyer as part of the daylong ABC visit to the White House. The trip commences tonight with a special on health care from the White House at 10 p.m. EDT with more coverage on “Nightline.”

Normally, progressives would be enthused over the prospect of health care legislation/reform. But the idea of legislation that is crummy might indeed be a worse prospect than the status quo, as horrible as that is to imagine.

And a health care legislation bill without a government option is not something to seriously consider, no matter how much of a “compromise” it might be to some.

Would you protest such a bill if it didn’t require at least a government public option? Hopefully, the process won’t come to that point. But naivete can’t rule the day. Those who want true health care reform have to prepare for that possibility.

This prime-time broadcast, and subsequent late-night coverage, should be an important time to give national attention to a more progressive solution. But there is legitimate fear that single-payer or even a public option will get short shrift. After all, Charlie Gibson and Diane Sawyer are at the controls.

Attendees for the discussion will be hand-picked by ABC News. ABC News Senior Vice President Kerry Smith says “ABC News alone will select those who will be in the audience asking questions of the president.”

While ABC’s attempts are bold by U.S. network standards, quite frankly, health care is so important that three hours of prime time on a summer evening by all the major networks (and FOX) would be a tiny price to pay.

President Obama spoke passionately at yesterday’s press conference of the stories he has heard along the trail of horrible health care disasters. Stories that would be solved by single-payer no matter the dislike he seems to have for that solution. These are the same stories that would be helped by a public option.

But we haven’t seen a lot of political capital being spent by the 44th president, no bold steps being taken. Health care reform requires boldness not seen on the political landscape since the passage of the Civil Rights Act.

If Congress can’t stand up to the insurance companies and other monsters in the way, and Obama won’t spend the political capital to veto a bill without at least a public option, what should be the reaction from progressives? If Congress passes a bill without a public option, and Obama seems ready to sign it, what should progressives do?


Written by democracysoup

June 24, 2009 at 9:41 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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