Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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December 9, 2009

DEAN PLEASED WITH COMPROMISE, FOR NOW.... About a week ago, Howard Dean argued that a health care bill without a public option "is worthless and should be defeated."

Now that Senate Democrats have endorsed a compromise measure that scales back the public option to a trigger -- in exchange for Medicare buy-in and the OPM plan -- is Dean still on board with the reform effort? Actually, yes.

In a boost for the Senate health care deal reached yesterday, Howard Dean said in an interview with me moments ago that the current compromise contains "real reform," and said that as it stands now, progressives could support it.

Dean also confirmed various details about the deal that he'd learned in direct conversations with Senators involved in the discussions -- detail that news orgs had mostly attributed to anonymous sources. Dean's general support for the bill could give it a boost among progressives who say it falls short of real reform.

Dean seems to feel pretty strongly about this, making the rounds this morning to tout his (conditional) support for the new deal.

He told Sam Stein the Medicare buy-in, in particular, is "a big step forward." Dean added, "The criteria that I use to evaluate the various proposals is; 'Is it reform?' And this is reform."

As for criticism from the left, Dean called the deal "incrementalism in the right direction," adding, "There will be people disappointed with it. There are parts that I'm disappointed with. But this is real and a big step forward."

Dean is not, however, without concern. He's heard, for example, that those eligible for the Medicare buy-in won't receive subsidies. If that's true -- I haven't seen this reported elsewhere -- it would be a real problem. Indeed, it wouldn't even make sense -- why make subsidies available for more expensive private insurance, but not more affordable Medicare?

And while some unanswered questions remain important, Dean is nevertheless encouraged by what he's seen. Given that the physician and former governor is widely considered a credible, progressive champion on health care reform, Dean's preliminary support should help the effort.

Steve Benen 12:40 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (15)

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Maybe it's because "they" are saying (who? don't know! DC commentators on Stephanie Miller, I think) that this is a trojan horse: a way of establishing the opening up of Medicare which will lead to a series of reconciliation measures over the next several years pushing the eligibility age back until everyone is covered.

Mind you, how they're going to do that unless the Dems retain a majority/grow their majority, is a mystery!

Posted by: pw on December 9, 2009 at 12:47 PM | PERMALINK

I'm glad that Dean is on board. But Lieberman plainly is not:


and I have not heard from Nelson, Landrieu or Lincoln.

Still waiting to hear that 60 votes are locked up

Posted by: WSP on December 9, 2009 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

Lieberman is never going to be with a big plan a Democrat comes up with no matter the topic.

I think him holding onto a grudge is more important. he can't get over the fact that he almost lost last time he ran for Senate.

Posted by: ET on December 9, 2009 at 12:52 PM | PERMALINK

The things about this compromise that bother me are the following.

1. It appears that not all people 55 years of age will be eligible, only those in the high risk category.

2. Fifty five and older are people who already cost too much for the insurance industry so they are glad to get rid of them.

3. No subsidies makes it impossible for many people to buy in.

4. Restricting eligibility for the program to those that the insurance industry doesn't want will remove the main reason for the public option, to give the insurance industry competition in order to get them to shape up.

Posted by: Texas Aggie on December 9, 2009 at 12:53 PM | PERMALINK

Is there a mandate involved?

If so, without a public option, we're screwed.

Posted by: who on December 9, 2009 at 12:54 PM | PERMALINK

Nelson, Landrieu and Lincoln were all on the team of 10 that worked out this compromise, so I think that strongly implies their support. We might end up swapping Snowe for Traitor Joe.

Posted by: Patrick on December 9, 2009 at 1:00 PM | PERMALINK

Thanks Patrick. That's what I'm hoping, and I think that probably is the plan. But I haven't heard the 'non-traitors' or Snowe chime in yet, and I doubt that Howard Dean's endorsement means much to any of them.

Posted by: WSP on December 9, 2009 at 1:05 PM | PERMALINK

A public option destined to fail by its very concept would doom any chance of future reform, and I'm afraid that's what any public option being floated was being set up for.

This would be a start, a BIG, start, and I really think its limitations would be very apparent and its evolution and expansion would begin to happen rather quickly. I trust Howard Dean's judgement on this. He hasn't bit his lip or minced his words throughout this whole process. Such a big expansion of medicare would start the boulder rolling down the hill and he knows that.

I'll go out on a limb here. Liebermann wil vote with the Republicans, but the Democrats will actually pick up a Republican or maybe a couple. Medicare is very popular, and voting against this could be seen by voters as an anti-medicare vote.

Posted by: SaintZak on December 9, 2009 at 1:14 PM | PERMALINK

Steve, the issue with the subsidies is that the Medicare provision kicks in before the subsidies do. For the time that this is true, there won't be any subsidies. Once the subsidies kick in, they are intended to help Medicare buy-ins, too.

Posted by: PaulB on December 9, 2009 at 1:15 PM | PERMALINK

This "compromise" is BS. I voted for change and instead I'm geting a dick sandwich. Count me out in 2010.

Posted by: Banana-Eating Jungle Monkey on December 9, 2009 at 1:58 PM | PERMALINK

The days when men like Ted Kennedy could stand up and invoke his former efforts to convince the rest of us to suck it up are over.

Those days are done, and these appeals to authority are wasted.


Posted by: soullite on December 9, 2009 at 2:52 PM | PERMALINK

"Given that [Dean] is widely considered a credible, progressive champion on health care reform, his preliminary support should help the effort."

Help the effort with who? Politicians don't care what Dean thinks. I would guess 10% of the US voting population knows who Dean is (maybe only half of whom think he is "credible on health care reform") but those people are already politically engaged, and already have opinions about HCR. So Dean's opinion means squat.

Posted by: flubber on December 9, 2009 at 3:02 PM | PERMALINK

if dean's on board, that says a lot for me.

Posted by: skippy on December 9, 2009 at 4:40 PM | PERMALINK

My "died and went to heaven" scenario would be if we pass this over Lieberman's opposition. Then maybe people will tire of that hideous bastard. Minimally, he should loose the chair of the Homeland Security Committee. We need to make it clear to him, that although he may beat the rap (retain his chairmanship), he won't beat the ride. We'll beat that troll stupid with ugly clubs from now through his next election cycle.

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Posted by: Hasad on March 12, 2010 at 11:08 AM | PERMALINK
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