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October 10, 2007

Spring Training For Universal Health Care

Jon Cohn makes a very useful point on the S-CHIP fight -- that in its galvanization of liberal interest groups and creation of new, pro-expansion coalitions (including one coalition that boasts the AFL-CIO, AFSCME, SEIU, MoveOn.org, Americans United for Change, USAction, and TrueMajority, suggesting the potential for mega-alliances between labor and the new constellation of progressive pressure groups), it's creating the template for what the Clintons didn't have: An aggressive, sophisticated, well-funded, pro-reform lobby. And that matters. Like all Cohn pieces, this one substantially anticipates a larger piece I'm working on, so I'm tempted to tell you not to read it, but it's just too good.

Additionally, there's a real sense in which failure on S-CHIP expansion may be good for full-bore reform. The children are the most sympathetic subset of the uninsured, and so long as they're acutely in need of help, there's more pressure, and more rhetorical firepower, on the side of reformers. I don't think this effect is big enough to oppose S-CHIP expansion (particularly given the uncertainty of any eventual reform), but the Republicans may one day come to regret that they never picked off the sympathetic groups -- kids, the uninsured -- and simply subsidized their coverage, because the longer they wait, the more likely real reform, rather than merely a set of subsidies, becomes.

October 10, 2007 | Permalink


We need to figure out a way to work puppies and kittens in.

Posted by: Glenn | Oct 10, 2007 11:22:37 AM

I'm less optimistic that the Bush/GOP opposition to S-CHIP explansion prefigures future progressive success on health care nationally, but I'll agree that mega-coalitions of progressive forces is a very good thing. I'm less optimistic because the left has recently proven that they will fold their tents and surrender at the slightist attack - or more importantly, the future possibility of attack from the right.

However, we've seen already that even a truly mild progressive reform can be and will be attacked as socialism - but that is just the start, in my opinion. Stalin's name is already being thrown around and surely the manufactured link of health care to Islamic radical fundamentalism and terrorism can't be far behind.

There is no longer a moderating voice within the Republican party, and it looks to me like an even-worse McCarthyism is well-launched within the Right.

In the literal sense of the word 'unhinged', the GOP rhetoric on the healthcare 'door' is completely disconnected from the 'doorframe' of public opinion and reality. This sure seems like the Titanic's crew disliberately opening the sealed compartment doors in the ship to sink the ship even faster. But the result is going to lead to perhaps the uglyist (perhaps physical) slug-fest in US history. When the wingnuts begin to talk about an actual conservative/liberal guns-and-mayhem civil war, as they have in regard to the Frost son and family (see Atrios and dKos on wingnut rage), things are pretty out of control.

Posted by: JimPortlandOR | Oct 10, 2007 1:12:22 PM

It's likely there won't be a failure on S-CHIP expansion; it may not be as broad or as deep as some progressives might like, but the Republicans can't stop this, and the smart ones know it. And it's because, as Ezra notes, of the fact that this is about kids. I may not be quite so keen on the "Republicans hate kids" line as some, but you can't deny that it works, and that it's driving the argument just now. Which, I think, is why the notion that we've got broad new coalitions that can back other reforms is a little optimistic; moderate to mildly conservative types who want healthcare for poor kids - and even poor adults - are not necessarily sold on a whole package of ideas around single payer or Universal Health. The Republican capitulation on this is going to be very much around "here and no further" on government subsidies in healthcare, and while that line probably can't hold, it can be a big stumbling block to future progress.

Finally, I think one thing that this week's tempests have done is reveal, more clearly, just how uninformed the "opponents" of healthcare reform are, something I've been trying to point out for a while. When conservatives confidently assert that it's either not hard or not expensive for individuals to get insurance in the open market (as they've tried to suggest wth the Frosts), they're either willfully naive or tragically out of touch. And I think it reveals the assumptions, particularly among white collar professionals, that most people have something similar to their employer based plan, it's not that expensive, and it's not that bad. That, more than the lack of a Preogressive coalition, I think, is what's holding up reform. Leveraging S-CHIP expansion into a greater understanding of the problem will do volumes to help push further changes. I don't think anyone should kid themselves that future changes will not face as much, and likely more opposition than we've seen in recent weeks over S-CHIP, which really is not an especially radical proposal or major change. Bigger, more fundamental changes will not somehow be simpler. And I think the coalition building needed to support future changes is still a work in progress.

Posted by: weboy | Oct 10, 2007 2:56:53 PM

SCHIP? Hillary Baby Bonds? Govt Matching 401Ks? Hey I am conservative but I am also a Baby Boomer nearing retirement. I would enjoy watching the DailyKos Brats pay for all these programs. Reminds me of the 70s when I was single and claming zero deductions on my taxes just to make sure the 50% I paid was enough.

So go for it. I am in. FREE BAGUETTES for Everyone. I will enjoy mine from retirement .

Posted by: Mike B | Oct 11, 2007 7:46:17 AM

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