Hard Left Rallies Against Healthcare Compromise

Yesterday, I wrote that there were signs that progressives were rebelling against the health care compromise reached in the Senate.  Since then, things have really heated up.

Bernie Sanders, the Socialist senator from Vermont, showed up on Fox News to announce that, “As of this point, I’m not voting for the bill. … I’m going to do my best to make this bill a better bill, a bill that I can vote for, but I’ve indicated both to the White House and the Democratic leadership that my vote is not secure at this point.”

Howard Dean, who had already  suggested killing the bill and starting over under rules that would not allow a filibuster, has written a withering WaPo op-ed denouncing the bill.

If I were a senator, I would not vote for the current health-care bill. Any measure that expands private insurers’ monopoly over health care and transfers millions of taxpayer dollars to private corporations is not real health-care reform. Real reform would insert competition into insurance markets, force insurers to cut unnecessary administrative expenses and spend health-care dollars caring for people. Real reform would significantly lower costs, improve the delivery of health care and give all Americans a meaningful choice of coverage. The current Senate bill accomplishes none of these.

Real health-care reform is supposed to eliminate discrimination based on preexisting conditions. But the legislation allows insurance companies to charge older Americans up to three times as much as younger Americans, pricing them out of coverage. The bill was supposed to give Americans choices about what kind of system they wanted to enroll in. Instead, it fines Americans if they do not sign up with an insurance company, which may take up to 30 percent of your premium dollars and spend it on CEO salaries — in the range of $20 million a year — and on return on equity for the company’s shareholders. Few Americans will see any benefit until 2014, by which time premiums are likely to have doubled. In short, the winners in this bill are insurance companies; the American taxpayer is about to be fleeced with a bailout in a situation that dwarfs even what happened at AIG.

Why, Keith Olbermann even has a Special Comment on the matter at the DailyKos blog.

There could not be a finer line between the words compromise and compromised and tonight, with the greatest possible reluctance, I believe I have to go on the air and state my opinion that the Senate bill in its current form has clearly crossed that line and, as currently constituted, cannot be passed.

We have all watched this bill shrink from limited but encouraging reform, to its current status as – in Dr. Dean’s frank assessment from last night – “a bailout for the insurance industry.” Surely the ratio of benefits to us, and benefits to our insurance overlords has shrunk to less than 1:1.


Now, granted, this is a small handful of people on the hard Left, only one of whom has a vote on the matter.   And some of their cohorts seem resigned to the bill, with Michael Moore calling for a boycott of Connecticut to punish Lieberman.  Using Twitter, no less:  “People of Connecticut: What have u done 2 this country? We hold u responsible. Start recall of Lieberman 2day or we’ll boycott your state.”   W00T.   RT.  #cthasnorecallbutthanksforplaying

My guess is that far left Democrats will vent a little while longer and ultimately support whatever compromise deal they can get.  Nate Silver has “20 Questions for Bill Killers”  backhandedly arguing that the bill is, from a progressive standpoint, far better than the status quo and that the perfect shouldn’t be the enemy of the good.   FDL’s Jon Walker offers 20 answers, essentially arguing that the bill might be better in the short term but make matters worse in the longer term, by strengthening the power of the insurance companies and making it harder to gather steam for a new reform effort.  Ultimately, though, his solution — as with Dean — is the “nuclear option.”  And that’s simply untenable.

The most likely outcome, then, is that Senate Democrats will follow the lead of  SEIU president Andy Stern, condemning the parts of the bill they don’t like, fighting to make it “better,” and ultimately holding their nose and voting for the best they can get.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Dave Schuler says:

    At this point the secondary effects of the legislation have so completely overwhelmed the objectives of the legislation that I have no ability to predict what will happen. As absurd as what they say so frequently is, there are at least some in Congress who actually believe what they say. Sure, there’s plenty of political posturing but what goes on in Congress isn’t 100% political posturing all of the time.

  2. DL says:

    Michael Moore putting out the boycott of CT order does a tremendous disservice to the cool image of Big Brother in Orwell’s


  3. Tlaloc says:

    ltimately, though, his solution — as with Dean — is the “nuclear option.”

    Reconciliation is not and never has been the nuclear option. The nuclear option was an idea for making filibustering of judicial candidates impossible. In other words stripping a right of the minority. There has indeed been some talk of that again but that is in no way connected to reconciliation that Dean and others have recommended.

  4. I stopped paying attention around the 80th or 81st iteration of this bill. Someone wake me up when they sign something.

  5. Joey Buzz says:

    Must vote now! There is no time to read words and understand passages when folks are dying and the country is going bankrupt.

  6. floyd says:

    This just shows that GOVERNMENT CONTROL of health care is more important to the Left than any imagined gain in actual health care.

  7. Steve Verdon says:

    Nate Silver has “20 Questions for Bill Killers” backhandedly arguing that the bill is, from a progressive standpoint, far better than the status quo and that the perfect shouldn’t be the enemy of the good.

    That is easy to believe when you are operating under the assumption that there is a room full of money somewhere there in the government.

    Only problem is, the room is now full of Soc. Sec. and Medicare IOUs, not money.

  8. Gustopher says:

    Nate Silver’s 20 Questions miss the obvious: Mandates and subsidies without cost control is just a recipe for disaster.

    We’ve been throwing money at this problem for decades — private money, rather than public, mostly, but were spending twice as much of our GDP as other countries — and just throwing more government money at health care isn’t going to help in anything other than the short term.

    I hope the progressive wing of the Democrats holds firm, and that nothing is passed rather than this current “compromise”/appeasement.

  9. Raoul says:

    Easy prediction: there will be no individual mandate. (There may not even be a bill but that’s harder to predict).

  10. We pass whatever it takes to get to 60.

    Then we use reconciliation to fix the 60 vote mess.

    Then some new athlete arranges dogfights or bangs cocktail waitresses. Or possibly arranges cocktail waitress fights. Which would be infinitely more interesting than health care reform.

    The right wing stays crazy and enraged, the left wing stays pouty and smug, Lieberman remains a douche. We muddle through.

  11. Brett says:

    I’ll go with it. It’s a patch-work bill anyways, which means that there’s almost going to be a mountain’s worth of reform bills on it later on, and you have to start somewhere. Social Security wasn’t exactly what it is now back when the Social Security Act of 1935 passed, for example.