Coming out of the coffee shop this morning, we were approached by an earnest young lady urging us to attend a "final march" for health care reform this coming Sunday.
Let the bloodletting begin. Not, unfortunately, between proponents of improved health care for all Americans and their opponents, who have yet to find a lie too onerous to use against it. No. Bloodletting among ourselves.
"I cannot bring myself to rally for the Senate bill to pass the House," I said. "It's the best we can get," said Lois, "and if it doesn't pass, the Democrats are dead meat for a long time to come."
"It's not the best we can get," I replied. "It's the best the insurance companies can get. Big difference."
And so it went.
Paul Krugman tells us it's not perfect, but it is responsible and should pass. He deflates three of the current most-repeated lies about the legislation. "Government control of one-sixth of the economy," is the hot one, and Krugman wastes little time exposing its falsehood. But he doesn't dwell on the main point:
Without a strong public option, the insurance companies are free to put consumers in an impossible vise: they will be required to buy insurance, but there is no restraint on the premiums the insurers can charge.
This is the heart of Rep. Dennis Kucinich's continuing opposition to the legislation as it stands. All 77 members of the Progressive Caucus signed a pledge not to vote for a health care bill without a public option; Kucinich is the only one who has not reneged.
"We need to keep the discussion going about alternatives," he told the progressive blogger Rob Kall, "because every discussion about alternatives puts the pressure in the direction of trying to come up with a better bill. And even at this late date, it would be a huge mistake to just look at the bill and call it a day. No, no no. We have to fight for the best bill we can get all the way down the line and if despite our best efforts, it still can not meet the test of providing care for people instead of profits for insurance companies, then we have to reserve the right to oppose it."
This stance impelled Markos Moulitsas, founder and owner of the liberal Dailykos, to descend to Republican depths of invective. He wrote: "Dennis Kucinich has always been a little prick, and that hasn't changed."
What next, Dick Cheney telling us to "go f--k ourselves?"
The progressive talk radio host (yes, there are some) Thom Hartmann said, "Progressives attacking Dennis Kucinich is the circular firing squad on steroids." Spineless centrist Democrats denigrating Kucinich is old hat. But when the so-called liberal wing of the so-called party denounces him for standing alone against a bad health care bill, it's cowardice.
A public option amendment can be submitted on the floor. Courageous representatives would vote for it because it's the right thing to do; even Krugman acknowledges that the bill would be better if it had one. States' options to enact single payer if they chose could also be submitted as a floor amendment. It, too, would improve the bill.
These things can still be done. Dennis Kucinich bravely stands alone for them, even as he bravely stood alone against an immoral and unjustifiable war that has bled our treasury and our military.
I stand with him. If the local marchers next Sunday were to stand against rapacious corporations and for the American people in this fight, I'd stand with them, too.