There are two basic arguments about whether or not Democrats should vote for the current Senate bill as it stands after the Repubs have gutted it. One says that, it is better to have something to use as a basis for further reform than to vote no and risk giving Republicans the advantage in the 2010 elections. The other says that this bill lacks any substantive reform and voting for it would be a mistake of epic proportions. We should wait until we have a bill that actually makes changes in American health care.
The debate, if you care to see it performed, is best seen here. Matt Taibii and Robert Kuttner go toe to toe on Bill Moyers' Journal. (And let me just say, it will be a sad day indeed when my fellow Texan, Bill Moyers, retires. Say it ain't so!)
If it was simply that the public option had been removed, I might say yes. I agree with Mr Kuttner. But that's not all that's been done to this bill. By mandating individual coverage, whether you want it, can afford it, or not, this bill amounts to subsidizing a multi-billion dollar industry. There are no caps on drug costs, no streamlining of bureaucracy, no limits on what insurers can charge.
Kuttner's idea of passing this bill in the hopes that it can be used as the basis of further reform are naive. In essence, there is nothing in this bill that we can use as a starting point for reform. While it's true that voting no postpones reform and potentially serves as Republican win, voting yes does more harm than good.
Perhaps, as one poster on the Journal's blog suggested, we would be better served by taking a piece meal approach to health care reform. Work on expanding medicare to those age 55 and up, mandate electronic records, get rid of the screwed up and costly Medicare drug changes that Bush passed, force insurance companies to eliminate pre-existing condition limitations. Do each of these reforms as separate pieces of legislation. Not as sexy but likely much more effective.
We cannot wait for the health care industry to reform itself. They cannot be trusted to truly care about their customers. Likewise, we cannot expect sweeping reform to ever pass as long as the insurance and pharmaceutical companies are able to buy legislators. If this debacle has proven nothing else to us, it is that we MUST reign in contributions to political candidates and make it impossible for any political action committee, corporation or billionaire to effectively control our government.
This of course assumes that our corporate masters allow such change to happen. Perhaps it would be better if this bill was passed and when the greedy insurers bankrupt more citizens and then move on the government's coffers, we'll wake up and realize what we have allowed to happen.
The Tea Party nitwits call for revolution all the time, openly and not so openly. If the potential destructiveness of this bill is reached and the revolution happens, it will not be because of any tea-bagger's desire to end "Socialized Medicine". It will be because we finally grow outraged enough to realize what has been done to us in the name of Greed.
Still, I would rather not live through a second American Revolution. Vote no and work on reform in a step by step manner. Be clear that this is happening because Republicans and the Health Insurance companies that control too many votes derailed true reform.