December 21, 2009

How did we get here?

By: Sonny Bunch

Essential post from Peter Suderman about how we ended up in a place where the left was attacking health care on the same terms as the right:

So now we’re in a bizarre situation in which Democracy for America, which formed out of the remnants of Howard Dean’s presidential campaign, is urging Democrats to kill the bill and saying things like “the bill doesn’t actually “cover” 30 million more Americans – instead it makes them criminals if they don’t buy insurance from the same companies that got us into this mess.” And DailyKos founder Markos Moulitsas is launching attacks against the plan because it too closely resembles the Massachusetts plan — and is thus likely to share its problems.

Here’s the thing: None of this is news. I’ve said as much myself for months, as have basically all of the policy-savvy critics of the bill. Yet the liberal left is only now airing these debates — after the bill is more or less done.

What does this mean? I see two possibilities: The most likely is that progressives are latching on to these criticisms because they’re now so angry that they’re ready to do anything to kill the bill — including admit what they had to have known all along, which is that these criticisms actually have a lot of merit.

The second, while less likely, is more disturbing: Many progressives who backed this bill throughout the year had no idea what was in it. They hated Republicans, heard endless public-option hosannas from their leaders, and believed they’d found a way to start the move toward single payer.

It really is bizarre. We’re in a situation where longtime haters of universal health care on the right like Andrew Sullivan are excited that this bill is going to pass because he’s so in love with the president and where activists on the left are freaking out because of something that’s been obvious from the get-go (namely, that insurance companies are getting a big boost and abortion coverage will be subject to the whims of conservative pro-life Democrats). Not sure what to make of this string of events.