Monday, June 22, 2009

Soft Gooey Center

Paul Krugman looks at the health care debate and notes that it’s not the right wing we have to worry about; they won’t vote for anything that doesn’t include a tax cut or a deduction for leeches. No, it’s the centrists Democrats like Ben Nelson (D-NE) we need to worry about.

What the balking Democrats seem most determined to do is to kill the public option, either by eliminating it or by carrying out a bait-and-switch, replacing a true public option with something meaningless. For the record, neither regional health cooperatives nor state-level public plans, both of which have been proposed as alternatives, would have the financial stability and bargaining power needed to bring down health care costs.

Whatever may be motivating these Democrats, they don’t seem able to explain their reasons in public.

[…]

Honestly, I don’t know what these Democrats are trying to achieve. Yes, some of the balking senators receive large campaign contributions from the medical-industrial complex — but who in politics doesn’t? If I had to guess, I’d say that what’s really going on is that relatively conservative Democrats still cling to the old dream of becoming kingmakers, of recreating the bipartisan center that used to run America.

But this fantasy can’t be allowed to stand in the way of giving America the health care reform it needs. This time, the alleged center must not hold.

I’d say that with polls showing overwhelming support for the idea of a public option, it would seem that the time is ripe to enact it.