Senators Joe Lieberman and Olympia Snowe can rejoice: the public option and the Medicare buy-in are off the table. What will happen next? Howard Dean's soundbyte is to "kill the bill," but his actual stance is much more nuanced.

In an interview with Vermont Public Radio yesterday, former DNC chairman Dean matter-of-factly explained that the reform advertised is not necessarily the reform that will result from the bill. He explained that by gutting the major points of contention, politicians have also removed the need for a major piece of legislation.

"There are some good things in this bill, but they're small, and let's have a small bill for this $32 billion. Doesn't sound like a small amount, but compared to a trillion dollars - 27 percent of which is going to go to the insurance companies' pockets, it's a small price to pay to help community health care centers and prevention and wellness programs."

Greg Sargent of the Plum Line points out that the progressive divide over the bill seems to split into "operatives and wonks," saying:

At risk of overgeneralizing, operatives tend to see such fights as political wars that are either are or aren't worth fighting and dying in. Wonks tend to see them as chapters in a longer tale of ever-evolving social policy. That might go some ways towards explaining the divide, even if the substantive differences between the two camps are real and serious.


The gist of the wonk argument is that this is all part of the Democrats' master plan, a small victory in a much longer battle to be waged. But I'm more inclined to side with Gregg Levine at FiredogLake, when he writes:

Failure to pass health care legislation, even terrible legislation, will be a great loss for the Obama administration and for Democrats in Congress. But passing a bill as bad as the Senate's eventual endpoint could be a bigger defeat for the Democratic majority we really want-one that takes progressive action on behalf of the voters.

Because, as I see it, a bill without the competitive force of a public option, or the opportunity for millions to buy into Medicare, without cheaper pharmaceuticals or meaningful controls on premiums, without bans on benefit caps or loophole-free safeguards against rescission, but with an individual mandate, will do nothing for the 30 million uninsured that advocates of the bill like to talk about helping-but it will do plenty for the private insurance and pharmaceutical industries.


Or, in the words of my blog amigo Nezua:

They fugazi if they think imma be forced to buy crappy insurance.

Reid Assures Snowe That Public Option, Medicare Buy-In Are Dead [TPM]
Howard Dean: "Kill The Senate Bill" [The Plum Line]
Dean On Health Care: "Kill The Senate Bill" [VPR]
Kill The Bill? Operatives Say Yes, Wonks Say No [The Plum Line]
Why Liberals Should Back the Health Care Bill [Political Wire]
Why Progressives Are Batshit Crazy to Oppose the Senate Bill [FiveThirtyEight]
Kill Bill? Latest Flips by Lieberman, Nelson Predictable; Require Hard-Line Response [Firedoglake]