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'Think of everything you could do while serving in Congress. Would any single act be bigger than this?'

Jon Cohn writes a letter to nervous House Democrats.

By Ezra Klein  |  January 20, 2010; 8:57 AM ET
 
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Comments

Democrats need to craft a bill that is worth supporting. The country wants healthcare reform, they don't want a bailout of the health insurance industry. People want health care, not a mandate to buy unaffordable, junk insurance.

Posted by: AuthorEditor | January 20, 2010 9:18 AM | Report abuse

The worst thing the Democrats can do at this point would be to make Republicans think that any of the right-wing efforts to oppose health reform will be anything other than futile.

Posted by: tyromania | January 20, 2010 9:20 AM | Report abuse

That statement is predicated on the belief that members of Congress serve the interests of the people and not their own. I'm finding it very difficult to accept that premise.

Posted by: mslavick | January 20, 2010 9:21 AM | Report abuse

"A few days ago, after a year of debate, you were on the verge of achieving a goal that’s eluded progressives for nearly a century: Creating a national health insurance program. But now the whole effort could fall apart."

It's already fallen apart. No single payer, no guarantee of universal coverage, cuts to Medicare . . . this isn't a national health insurance program, it's a regulatory stick to beat money out of the healthcare and insurance industries in the future with little or nothing to help to average citizen.

Not to mention, no tort reform and nothing to expand the sale of health insurance across state lines. And the part where it terminates the use of individual healthcare savings accounts. I mean, come on. What does the bill do, aside from creating multiple, bloated-from-the-start, crazy-expensive bureaucracies, that constitutes "a national health insurance program"?

What about an achievable bill that, say, automatically expands Medicare benefits to the unemployed with a small Medicare Part U tax to cover it (given that the unemployed aren't nearly as expensive to treat, on the whole, as the elderly)?

No, of course not! That would have actually passed, possibly with bi-partisan support. It would have been actually doable, but wouldn't have looked nearly as good on a plaque in a future presidential library.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | January 20, 2010 9:46 AM | Report abuse

Ez & Co. -- the biggest story yesterday was the way health care stocks skyrocketed on a dem lose. is there any better way to tie a GOP win to elitism than to point at Health Care ETF funds...its been the story on bloomberg since twelve hours ago but went unmentioned in the little msnbc coverage i saw yesterday.

Posted by: llllxlxlxllll | January 20, 2010 9:54 AM | Report abuse

Democrats have large majorities in both houses of Congress and the POTUS is a Democrat. . . If they cannot legislate and implement a progressive agenda the leadership should acknowledge their incompetence and resign their positions. . . Stop with all the excuses!

Posted by: WisconsinReader | January 20, 2010 10:02 AM | Report abuse

I can't believe all the energy that people like Ezra and Jon Cohn have expended on supporting a plan that is nothing more than yet another poverty program.

I'm not against more federal money going to health care for poor people. I totally against the distorted claims that extending the currently dysfunctional model to more people constitutes either reform universal care.

Whether or not Democrats manage to get this passed is irrelevant to the underlying problems, which are in no way addressed by the bill.

Posted by: Athena_news | January 20, 2010 10:10 AM | Report abuse

"It's already fallen apart. No single payer, no guarantee of universal coverage, cuts to Medicare . . . this isn't a national health insurance program, it's a regulatory stick to beat money out of the healthcare and insurance industries in the future with little or nothing to help to average citizen."

the only way for evil to happen, is for enough good people to stand by and do nothing.

are you still thinking that this would have been possible in this political climate?
it wasnt possible to do more.
so those that wanted more, are unhappy.
those that wanted less, are unhappy.
and realists, who understand that this is a BEGINNING, and it is TIME TO MAKE A START SOMEWHERE under very difficult circumstances, are watching dreamers and objectors take this down.
where is claire mccaskill?
why isnt bill clinton out night and day helping to pass health care reform. i thought this was central to the personal agendas for him and hillary clinton during his presidency.
as a past democratic president who professes to care so much for the sufferings of others and watched health care reform wither on the vine years ago, and knows what the odds are of revisiting it again in this generation, why isnt he helping?
it is easy to do high profile altruism with wealthy donors who hold the strings to the whole economic universe, but why not help barack obama now, pass health care for the rest of us here???? i thought that mattered to him.
howard dean knows that any delay and overreach and confusion will be lethal....and still he persists.
and now, senators will abandon the most important legislation. if they cant fight and support it, then they should not be representing us.
and i cant believe that after spotlighting himself as an advocate for health care reform, wiener would even suggest to abandon this.
anyone now who lets health care reform twist in the wind, and wither for their own agenda or to weaken president obama will be signing away our future.

past democratic president....senators....advocates for health care reform who profess to care about the welfare of the american people, need to do whatever they can during these precious few days, to help get this passed...or they have no right to call themselves advocates for the american people.

this is not the time to blame, to run scared....this is the time to pass this crucial legislation....or we are headed to a catastrophe.

Posted by: jkaren | January 20, 2010 10:17 AM | Report abuse

"That would have actually passed, possibly with bi-partisan support."

hahahahahahahaha

Oh man... that's rich. Thanks for the laugh

Posted by: etdean1 | January 20, 2010 10:23 AM | Report abuse

The slobbering after other people's money continues apace, I see.

Posted by: msoja | January 20, 2010 10:35 AM | Report abuse

why isnt bill clinton out night and day helping to pass health care reform. i thought this was central to the personal agendas for him and hillary clinton during his presidency.

Posted by: jkaren | January 20, 2010 10:17 AM | Report abuse

i think President Clinton has been hesitant to jump too much into the fray as he doesn't want to be reminiscent of 1994. Also as of late he's been a little busy helping the people in Haiti recover from their devestation that makes healthcare reform look like a walk in the park. Don't bash him. He doesn't deserve it.


I for one can't believe Andrew Weiner, one of the staunchest proponents of Single payer has run cowering for the corners (ala his pivot remarks last night). WHen people do that it goes to show what they truly believe in. I'm guessing he wants to stay elected first and help the American people second.

Posted by: visionbrkr | January 20, 2010 10:52 AM | Report abuse

"A few days ago, after a year of debate, you were on the verge of achieving a goal that’s eluded progressives for nearly a century: Creating a national health insurance program. But now the whole effort could fall apart."

That is a total misrepresentation of the legislation under consideration and most people know it. The legislation does not create a national insurance program. It does not even lay the foundation for a universal care system. What it does is buy more of what is failing us -- and it does that by spending money that we do not have.

Most liberals, Jon and Ezra included, equate national insurance with public spending and mistakenly think that anything that involves more public spending on health care is, by definition, "national". True universal coverage puts everyone in the same boat -- whether public or private -- and the most successful universal systems are in fact private.

Liberals have been so focused on more federal spending for so long, they have lost sight of the true objectives of health reform: to create a system in which every citizen can get timely treatment without bankrupting himself, his company, or his country.

The bill that "realists" support doesn't ensure that at all. It imposes unfunded mandates on private insurance companies that will increase premiums. At the same time, it mistakenly assumes that insurance is the same as coverage and that coverage automatically ensures care...and it does virtually nothing to protect people who do have insurance from incurring medical debt. "Affordability" has been defined in terms of insurance premiums (for the very poor), not in net health expenses. Liberals who claim that the out-of-pocket limits will protect subscribers from medical debt are clueless, deluding themselves and others.

I'm extremely disheartened by this debacle but I'm even more distressed by the tin-ears of our elected legislators. I voted for these people to get *reform*. If they can't get themselves organized to deliver that, they deserve their fate.

Posted by: Athena_news | January 20, 2010 11:33 AM | Report abuse

"Listen to the complaints: You’re feckless. You don’t follow through on your promises. You don’t deliver progress."

This is why the Democrat lost in MA. Not because people are angry at Obama but because they are angry and disgusted with Congress. The worst thing Democrats could do now is to do nothing.

Posted by: caed | January 20, 2010 12:14 PM | Report abuse

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