Now is the time to write stories about how strategically and politically insane it would be for the House to not find a way to pass the legislation.
If they fail to do so, the Republicans will be the writers of history--because the victors, not the vanquished, get the pen and the paper to do so. They will get to define what was in it and why it died. And this will have implications not just about the past but the future. Republican will say, and more effectively (but no less inaccurately) than ever, that, given the chance, the Democrats will be right back at it again with their "evil, secret fantasy to take over the health care system." They will more successfully (and inaccurately) define "it" as being a deficit busting, government take-over that will ration care and harm seniors.
Democrats have to understand that virtually all of them have already voted for a bill that will therefore be defined by the Republicans. As such, they--and even those Democrats who did not vote for the bill--will be linked to that party that embraced to "Obamascare." And, for those who are completing embracing a fall-back, small-ball approach, think again. That seductively tempting option won't come to pass either. Why? Because the Republicans will work to ensure it does not.
One bitter irony in this meltdown -- one that highlights the impotence of the left generally -- is that as far as I can see there are no progressive interests groups, except perhaps the unions, pressuring House and Senate Democrats to find a way forward on comprehensive HCR. I get emails from Moveon.org and BoldProgressives.org pushing fantasies that Democrats can somehow now be pressured to go for the full Monty - strong public option, more generous subsidies, no excise tax...as if the House is now dealing with a Senate more inclined to give the party's liberal wing what it wants instead of one empowered to block any bill other than the one they just passed, and as if their majority is not on the brink of being blown to pieces. So we in the broad majority of Democratic voters who want the Democrats to pass an HCR bill they have the power to pass have no one sending those 'call your Senator/rep" emails with the numbers popped up right in front of you.
Paging Jonathan Cohn: ready to start a PAC?
UPDATE: Cohn hasn't started a PAC, but he's lent his Treatment blog to action by health care experts Harold Pollack (a regular Treatment contributor), Timothy Jost and 45 colleagues*:
Yesterday, Tim and I crafted a simple letter (shown below), which we emailed other health policy experts we know. Some are progressives who identify with a single-payer approach. Others are more politically moderate economists, sociologists, and political scientists. Still others identify with organized labor, medicine, or public health.
Within several hours, many outstanding scholars, activists, and practitioners signed on. Signers include Henry Aaron, David Cutler, Jon Gruber, Theda Skocpol, Paul Starr, and many others, including Anna Burger, Secretary-Treasurer of SEIU.
Read the Pollack-Jost* letter -- and call your Congressional rep (and Senators - they're punting but they could signal willingness to work on reconciliation fixes).
* Per the Anonymous comment below, I originally pegged this letter as a Cohn production. For a while, the post on TNR had his byline. Apologies for the error.