Debate among progressives about whether to support the current health care bill

by on December 17, 2009 · 12 comments

in Civil Rights, Economy, Health, War and Peace


Editor: If you’re watching the progress of the current health care bill in the Senate, your heart is probably breaking.  Here then are some of the arguments on both sides of the question of whether progressives should support the current version – a version that has no public option and no expansion of Medicare: Keith Olbermann says “Kill the bill,” whereas Paul Klugman advocates that we should still support it.

Keith Olbermann: ‘Kill the bill’

In a “Special Comment” Wednesday night, MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann agreed with former Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean that the Senate health care bill, as it currently stands, should die.

“We have sustained a total and unmitigated defeat without a war,” Olbermann said. “This is not health, this is not care, this is certainly not reform … The ‘men’ of the current moment, have lost to the ‘mice’ of history. They must now not make the defeat worse by passing a hollow shell of a bill just for the sake of a big-stage signing ceremony.”

Olbermann argued that without the Medicare buy-in or the public option or other reforms taken out of the bill, the health insurance mandate will just force people to buy expensive and exploitative plans. Calling Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) a “senatorial prostitute,” Olbermann also criticized President Obama for not providing “the leadership his office demands.” Here’s the link to the remainder plus the video of Olbermann’s segment from Wed 12/16/09.

Paul Klugman: Support the bill despite illusions and bitterness

There’s enormous disappointment among progressives about the emerging health care bill — and rightly so. That said, even as it stands it would take a big step toward greater security for Americans and greater social justice; it would also save many lives over the decade ahead. That’s why progressive health policy wonks — the people who have campaigned for health reform for years — are almost all in favor of voting for the thing.

The argument about the evil of the individual mandate is,as Jon Cohn says, all wrong. It was wrong during the primaries, when Obama unfortunately used it to demagogue his rivals — helping set the stage for problems now. And it’s still wrong. For the remainder of this article, go here.

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

annagrace December 17, 2009 at 5:41 pm

No- it is flat out wrong to say that progressives are ready to vote for the thing. That is not the case at all. I am with Olbermann- if Congress passes this disgusting piece of legislation that prohibits importation of drugs, includes Nelson’s abortion grandstanding, requires Wireless Mike to buy an expensive piece of shit insurance policy and will penalize him if he doesn’t, removes the public option, removes expanded medicare/medicaid coverage- I say hell no. This is not health care. This is not reform. It is bullshit.


doug porter December 17, 2009 at 7:22 pm

what a sorry state we progressives find ourselves in. a dream has turned into a nightmare. all the choices have serious downsides: support the bill and end up with something less than mediocrity///oppose the bill and hand the reactionaries a symbolic victory that may provide them with enough mojo to take back Congress in 2010.


annagrace December 17, 2009 at 9:45 pm

I’m not handing the reactionaries a symbolic victory. The majority of the American public supports health care reform. Let the right eat it.


Wellescent Health Blog December 17, 2009 at 7:53 pm

Seeing those who want all or nothing speak out is very disheartening because it means that the reality that compromise is required to make progress is being ignored. Of course the public option or earlier Medicare age limit would be ideal, but given that this is the first attempt at meaningful reform in many years, there has to be some realization that negotiations don’t ever give us everything we want and getting nothing is by no means a better result than weak progress. Progress is a journey, but if you never take the first step, you don’t get anywhere.


annagrace December 17, 2009 at 8:00 pm

Can you be much more specific?


rak December 18, 2009 at 6:51 am

What I find disheartening is that there are those who see this victory for the insurance companies as progress. Increasing coverage by mandating the purchase of policies from insurance companies is not health reform, and it’s not progress. I think the damage to the Democratic party would be greater if it were to be responsible for this travesty rather than acknowledge the loss and try again for real health care reform. I believe in compromise, and I believe reasonable people attempted to compromise, even suggesting the expansion of Medicare/Medicaid as an alternative to a strong public option. But at this point there is no compromise; it’s capitulation. What’s being presented at this point is in many ways worse than the status quo. It’s time to kill the bill.


jacksmith December 17, 2009 at 8:33 pm

MANDATES MUST GO! THE FILIBUSTER MUST GO! It’s undemocratic. It was created to subvert democracy and the will of the people. The Constitution Of The United States only calls for a simple majority vote in the Senate (51 votes). The Senate should pass the strongest Public Option it can with 51 votes by Reconciliation.

The Senate bill is a Swisses cheese of loopholes for the insurance industry. Without a strong Public Option, insurance reforms in the bill are worthless and have no teeth.

CRITICAL!! From jacksmith – Working Class

My Fellow Americans and People Of The World

A strong Government-run MEDICARE like Public Option is CRITICAL!!

A Medicare Buy-in at 55 is a GOOD! idea. But!, not a substitute for a strong Medicare like public option CHOICE for everyone. Nor is the (FEHBP). Without a strong public option on day one the Senate health-care bill is a disaster for the American People and the World. Therefore you must KILL!! it. Without a strong public option the health-care reform bill is MUCH WORSE! than what we have now, and what we have now is a catastrophe. SO YOU MUST KILL!! IT.

What is proposed in the Senate is the worst case scenario for health-care reform. It would shift trillions of taxpayer, public and private dollars into the hands of the private insurance industry (The single most costly, deadly and dangerous product sold in America). And it would compel by law millions of Americans to financially support this oxymoronic criminal enterprise. You cant have a MANDATE WITHOUT A STRONG PUBLIC OPTION CHOICE!

You will have NO! realistic way of controlling cost and quality. Cost will continue soaring through the roof bleeding the American people dry, and KILLing our economy. And our quality of healthcare will continue to decline below our current ranking of “WORST! quality of healthcare delivery in the developed World”.


I have to tell you now that the H1N1 virus is a man-made WEAPON OF MASS DESTRUCTION! and TERROR! It is a WEAPONIZED version of a flu virus. It has swept the planet infecting millions. And causing a global pandemic that has killed tens of thousands, and injured millions.

The H1N1 virus is the product of the DISGRACEFUL, GREED DRIVEN PRIVATE FOR PROFIT MEDICAL INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX! It was released in the U.S. in Texas in early January of this year, but not recognized until around April in California. The reason I know this is because when it came to America, it came to see me FIRST! How sweet…

This was around the time the MEDICAL INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX! assaulted the Whitehouse with all their devils deals to cripple and weaken YOUR! healthcare reform. Especially your right to have a single payer system like HR676 (Medicare For All) which most of you wanted.

They don’t even want you to have your HUGE!!! compromise position of a strong government-run MEDICARE like Public Option CHOICE. To compete with their DISGRACEFUL, GREED DRIVEN, MURDEROUS, PRIVATE FOR PROFIT PRODUCT (The single most costly, deadly and dangerous product sold in America).

They also wanted to take away your rights to have your government meet it’s responsibility to use it’s full power to regulate, negotiate, and control drug cost, healthcare cost and quality. Something every other civilized country in the developed World has done for it’s people. Their Greed! moral degeneracy and lack of patriotism knows no bounds.

Many of you will remember that before we knew about H1N1. I posted a open message to the President and Congress warning them to be vigilant about their health, and cautious about any medical advice they received. As I said then “they will not hesitate to try and hurt you”.

The U.S. and the World have been under a BIOLOGICAL TERROR ATTACK! for over a year now. It is CRITICAL that We The People Of The United States take away control of our healthcare system from the GREED DRIVEN MEDICAL INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX!

For our own National security, and the security of the world.

A Strong, government-run, MEDICARE like Public Option CHOICE. Available to everyone on day one, with the full unfettered power of the federal government to regulate, negotiate, and control cost and quality. Would be the most workable way to deal with this global crisis at this time. Including patent suspensions as needed for national security or the greater good.

As an American I invite the peoples of the World to help us fix our healthcare crisis. And bring pressure on our government to meet it’s responsibility to protect global security by controlling, and removing the corrupting influence of GREED and the PRIVATE FOR PROFIT motivations from healthcare in the U.S. and around the World.

I call on the governments of the World and the global intelligence community to track down these MASS MURDERERS, and bring them to justice. CONNECT THE DOTS! And be vigilant that they don’t slip in another viral strain on you under the cloak of H1N1 sequestration.

Further, the proposed patent protection on biologic’s must be stripped from the US bill. And greatly shorten/restricted, or abolished completely. This is a grave danger to humanity and global security.

I think President Obama is doing the best he can at playing the disastrous deck of cards he inherited from the previous administration. And I think he is doing an excellent job. But the wolves and devils of the medical industrial complex! are trying to exploit, and take advantage of his good heart, and desperate desire to help suffering Americans. But we must be strong and insist that healthcare reform be done right for the American people. Or everyone loose’s.

This is all I can say in a message post. I’ll try to find a way to tell you more later.

God Bless You My Fellow Human Beings

jacksmith – Working Class

p.s. The so-called nominal H1N1 virus is designed in such a way as to make it more lethal to children and young adults. The medical community must be more vigilant of secondary bacterial infections in the young caused by H1N1. And remember, a viral infection is also a transfer of genetic code to you. Think about it, and be vigilant. :-(


Patty Jones December 17, 2009 at 9:06 pm

rrrrr….. rrrRRRRRRrrrrr…. rRRRRRRR!!!!!

dammit! I agree progress is a journey, but this is supposed to be reform. If they can’t get a public option in or something like it then they need to get rid of the mandate. I hear numbers like “45 million uninsured”, that this bill will help 30 million of them. We need to take steps but they don’t need to be on the backs of those 15 million people who will fall in the middle and get sucked up in the mandate. I’m sure I don’t understand enough of this to really have an informed opinion, but dammit!


lane tobias December 18, 2009 at 10:24 am

Im tired of our elected officials being bought by corporate interests. In someone like Lieberman, we see the perfect example of this: his constituents in Connecticut reside in a state with one of the widest gaps between rich and poor in the country. And yet he caters to nobody but the wealth elite…and himself.

Keith Olbermann’s monologue is exactly the kind of tough stance our President should be taking on this. Kill the bill for sure.


jaci silvestri December 18, 2009 at 8:16 pm



Frank Gormlie December 19, 2009 at 11:16 am

I don’t think progressives can support this bill in its CURRENT form – without public option, without medicare expansion but with the mandate. I’m supporting Howard Dean on this one, along with SEIU and AFL-CIO : “kill the bill in it current shape”.


Monty Kroopkin December 31, 2009 at 8:07 am

A sister publication of the OB Rag, the Rag Blog, ran an article on the subject of the individual mandate aspect of the proposed law. It warrants much more discussion.

It is titled “The Individual Mandate : Unconstitutional, and an Alarming Precedent”

See the article at


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