Liberals Bring Heat on Health Care

The day before Obama delivers a make-or-break speech on health care reform, liberals tell the president to go for broke

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One day before the president tries to regain control over the bitterly partisan health care debate with a primetime television address, there is news that a compromise may be near. Senator Max Baucus, the head of the Senate Finance Committee, looks likely to propose legislation that is notably without a public option. As liberals parse the president's strategy, they conclude that the Baucus plan is disappointing, but better than nothing. They can't agree on how much President Obama should compromise to win on health care reform, but they are sure of one thing: he should not back down. After a summer in which conservatives dominated the health care debate with talk of death panels and angry town halls, the left says it's time for the president to bring the heat.

  • Baucus Bill is Better Than Nothing, writes Ezra Klein at The Washington Post. "The ballpark estimate for the Baucus bill, and though it's less than one might hope, it's a lot more than many were beginning to fear." At Think Progress, Matt Yglesias agrees. He says the Baucus plan, "would create something comparable to the situation that currently prevails in Switzerland or Massachusetts. Is that great? No, it’s not." But, Yglesias says, "The status quo in the United States is really bad. Baucus’ plan would make it better."
  • Push It Through No Matter What, says liberal health care wonk Jonathan Cohn in The New Republic. Cohn says Senator Baucus's bipartisan bill would be the better option, but will need the support of Senator Olympia Snowe of Maine in order to pass. Otherwise, he says, it's time for Democrats to go it alone and get the job done. "Failing to pass a bill when they have the numbers would be politically suicidal, just like it was in the 1990s. Having committed themselves to passing legislation, they now must follow through. They knew that before August. Knock on wood, they still know it today."
  • Get Fired Up Like It's 2008, says Joan Walsh at Salon. She warns the president not to compromise on his most fundamental campaign promises. "The only thing sadder than living in a world where Obama gives insurance companies a windfall of taxpayer dollars for their corrupt, inefficient racket, is thinking about the disillusionment among the people who worked their asses off for him through 2008. If Obama betrays them, he'll regret it -- as a human being as well as a politician."
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