Sunday, December 20, 2009
At TNR: Why I Still Believe in This Bill
It would therefore be tempting for me to side with Howard Dean and other progressive critics who say that health care reform should now be killed.
It would be tempting, but it would be wrong.
Since the first campaign for publicly guaranteed health insurance in the early twentieth century, opportunities for serious health reform have come only rarely and fleetingly. If this opportunity passes, it will be very long before the chance arrives again. Many Americans will be gravely hurt by the delay.
Progressives have good reason to be angry. Yet we should harness our anger to fix the bill--now and every year from now. The current bills in Congress do too little to help Americans immediately; their main actions are delayed for years. If and when legislation passes, progressives should demand immediate concrete actions to make the promise of a reform a reality more quickly and more effectively.
So a bill must pass. Yet it must be a better bill that passes. And it must be understood by the President, the Congress and every American as only a step--an important but ultimately incomplete step--toward the vital goal that the campaign for the public option embodied: good affordable health care for every American.