A major threat is developing to Barack Obama’s dream of universal health care…and surprisingly, it comes from the left.
After acceding to all of independent Joe Lieberman’s demands, including nixing the public option and the early Medicare buy-in, progressives are in an uproar. They have already lost a lot of faith in this President on other issues, most importantly the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. But they thought they had a true believer in the Oval Office.
If Obama is a true believer, he surely isn’t fighting for his beliefs.
Liberal commentators, led by Howard Dean and the DailyKos, are now pushing for the defeat of Obamacare in the Senate. With the loss of their two primary goals, liberals now wonder if the status quo would be better than the Senate bill…something I have been saying for months. No one ever said liberals were all that quick.
Politically, you cannot really disagree with the extreme left. The bill is extremely unpopular, with over 60% of the public now against it in any form. Second, it achieves nothing the liberals wanted from the bill: single payer, universal coverage, drug importation, etc. So why sacrifice the entire liberal cause for a bill that will accomplish nothing, as far as they are concerned?
It has become so bad that Roland Burris, the pariah Senator from Illinois, has said he will vote ‘No’ on the bill…in a bid to become the flag-bearer of the left.
Harry Reid and Dick Durbin, the Democratic Senate leaders, are still pondering a bill passage by Christmas. Obviously, they are smoking something. Lieberman now appears to be a yes vote, but Ben Nelson is a strong ‘No’ as of now, Roland Burris may or may not be a ‘No’, other moderate Democrats are likely to follow Nelson, and even the liberal Republicans from Maine, Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe, have jumped off this sinking ship. There simply is not sixty votes for this mess at this time.
At this point, politically the progressives would be better off killing this bill, and using it as a fundraising tool going forward. But they are caught in a Catch-22. They are very likely to lose seats in Congress in 2010. Will they ever be closer to their dream of universal health care than they are now? Highly unlikely. They still believe there is a chance of using reconciliation, but the public likely would see that as a power grab. Thus, progressives are left with two bad choices: support a bill that does nothing for them, or block the bill and take the huge gamble that down the road they will finally get their dream of single payer health care.
The irony is, in the end, progressives may be able to do what conservatives and Tea Partiers could not: defeat Obamacare.
UPDATE: Count Labor unions as a “nay’, as SEIU, AFL-CIO, and others may oppose the Senate plan. And in a related story, the House Democrats have basically stated that they will not go out on a limb to pass anything in 2010 unless the Senate passes it first…meaning all controversial measures have zero chance of passing next year.
And White House spokesperson Robert Gibbs answered nothing but questions on this today. He said no rational person would call for killing this bill. When asked if that meant he thought Howard Dean was irrational, he backed off.
This is really becoming fun to watch.