ormer Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean plunged into a battle with the White House on Thursday by saying that Democratic senators should kill the current health-care reform bill. Dean, writing in The Washington Post, said the bill just "expands private insurers' monopoly over health care" now that Democrats, hoping to keep independent Sen. Joe Lieberman from joining a Republican filibuster, have cut out a public insurance option and a proposal to let some Americans buy into the Medicare program for the elderly. White House senior adviser David Axelrod said liberal Democrats would be "insane" to derail a bill that would provide uninsured people with coverage. Should Democrats scrap the bill and start over? (Watch Howard Dean recommend starting over on health care)
The bill is weaker — but pass it: The loss of the public option was an "enormous disappointment" for progressives, says Paul Krugman in The New York Times. "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." So Democrats should get it passed — and try to build on it later.
"Illusions and bitterness"
Kill it — this isn't reform: "This is not health, this is not care," says Keith Olbermann in MSNBC, and it's "certainly not reform." Without the public option as a check against the "voraciousness" of insurance companies, this bill leaves the poor and the sick at the mercy of greedy corporations. Democrats should start over, and "not make the defeat worse by passing a hollow shell of a bill just for the sake of a big-stage signing ceremony."
"Ruined Senate bill insupportable"
Now conservatives and liberals can agree — the bill should die: "For conservatives, this version of the bill is not as bad as what the Democrats originally proposed" but it's still worse than the status quo, says Yuval Levin in National Review. For liberals, it now "funnels huge amounts of money to the insurance companies they hate so much and doesn’t really change the system." So now everybody should hate it.
"What is the case for the Senate bill?"
Dean's "no" makes the Democrats' prospects dimmer: Howard Dean has concluded that removing the Medicare "at Lieberman's behest" was the last straw, says Greg Sargent in The Plum Line. "The gauntlet from Dean — whose voice on health care is well respected among liberals — will energize those on the left who are mobilizing against the bill, and make it tougher for liberals to embrace the emerging proposal."
"Howard Dean: 'Kill The Senate Bill'"
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