Friday, January 22, 2010

One more chilling Cohn crie de coeur

He rends my heart because he is so right and recognizes the stakes:
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 and pushing fantasies that Democrats can somehow now be pressured to go for the full Monty - strong public option, more generous subsidies, no excise 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.


  1. Just a correction -- that letter (and the TNR post) is by Harold Pollack, not Jon Cohn. Cohn did not sign it.

  2. Anonymous: How very strange. After reading your comment, I checked the TNR Treatment post still on my screen, and it had Cohn on the sig line. I opened it afresh, and it had Pollack. I guess TNR corrected an error?

  3. text of my message to president obama, speaker pelosi, senator boxer and representative anna eshoo:

    "I am increasingly upset with the news coming from Washington. The news media is reporting that Speaker Pelosi says there are not enough Democratic votes in the House to pass the health care reform bill approved by the Senate in December. My preference is that the House pass that bill and make required changes using the reconciliation process.

    "If Democrats don't figure out how to do that and let this bill die or drag on for months, I will vote against Democrats in 2010 and beyond, and will urge all my friends and associates to do the same.

    "We didn't elect you so you could get reelected. We elected you to stand for Democratic principles and to actually make them happen. Period.

    "You guys need to prove Will Rogers wrong!!"

    maybe a pac is the right idea? seems we need to put pressure on dems to do the right thing…