"[O]nce in a lifetime, stars-aligned political shot at fixing the system that accounts for one-sixth of our economy."
She goes on to say, correctly, that "passing health care reform will never be more possible than it is now." And yet, all the signs show that the public option is becoming more and more unlikely. Equally disturbing is the fact that the insurance companies are actually thrilled about this so-called "reform."
Individual mandates. There is a good possibility that the final bill will contain individual mandates, which means that all citizens will be required by law to purchase some kind of health insurance. Failure to do so will be punishable by tax penalty. Originally, these mandates were seen as a good thing by those on the left. They were a tool to ensure universal coverage. Now, however, it looks like they will provide for-profit insurance companies with a captive audience.
The question, then, is: Can the Democrats fail more spectacularly than simply failing to pass a health care reform bill that contains a public option? And the answer, of course, is yes. If the Democrats simultaneously fail to provide an alternative to for-profit insurers, and also demand that everyone purchase insurance (that they probably can't afford in the first place)--well, then, that'll be the end of the Democrats. Such a move would go down in history as a political blunder of biblical proportions.
Though I don't put much past them when it comes to disappointing their constituents, I can't possibly see this outcome coming to pass. Handcuffing every American to insurance companies when premiums are increasing at six to eight times the rate of workers wages is beyond the pale, even for the Democrats. For further reading, I recommend this piece by Timothy Noah.
And yet there's a part of me that almost hopes that this happens. It feels like the natural progression of a for-profit health care system in which the explicit goal is to provide as little care as possible. Obviously, such an outcome would be disastrous for the nation's poor, and should be fought against tooth and nail. But for a country that has always lied to itself, claiming to be a bastion of free markets--while simultaneously providing corporations with tax breaks, legal protections, lemon socialism, lucrative (and sometimes exclusive) government contracts both domestically and abroad--there is a kind of poetry to such an outcome.
Under the worst case scenario that the country is now facing, not only would it be unfortunate to be too poor to afford health care, but it would actually be illegal.
Again, I highly, HIGHLY doubt that the mandates will stand and the public option will fall, but if I'm wrong, 2010 will be very interesting.
Here is Maddow rightly giving the Dems a hard time.