Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Can We Stop Calling Co-ops a Compromise?

As the Republicans continue to resist any type of public option, we are now seeing revived talk of replacing a robust public option with co-ops. This has led the language of the debate to shift and reference these co-ops as a "compromise" (emphasis all mine below).

Ezra Klein:

This is a dynamic we saw in 1994. A compromise is offered, and after great anguish and infighting, Democrats grudgingly move toward it. Then the compromise is yanked away. The famous example of this is Bob Dole voting against two bills that had the name "Dole" in the title. We'll see the same sort of thing this year. The end-of-life counseling hubbub, where Democrats got attacked for approving an amendment that Republicans had frequently offered, is another example. It's one more reminder that the likeliest compromise will be between liberal Democrats and centrist Democrats, along with Olympia Snow and Susan Collins.

The Washington Independent:

Republicans and conservative activists are mining other statements in that vein to build the case that co-ops would be no compromise at all, and they’re doing it quickly.

“Three months ago, I think you could have had a compromise on co-ops,” another Senate GOP aide told TWI. “Today? No, forget about it. I think both parties have gotten wise to how things work, and Republicans see this for the fig leaf that it really is.”

A Headline from The Faster Times:

Republicans Capitalize on Democratic Disarray as Hopes of Health Care Compromise Fade

The compromise is not negotiating away the public option in favor of a (yet to be detailed) co-op plan. As Jane Hamsher has stated, The compromise IS the public option. Progressive activists have long maintained and continue to assert that the public option must be included because it was the compromise that was settled on once single-payer was taken off of the table.

More importantly, this initial compromise was primarily between progressives and more conservative members of the Democratic Party who didn't want to include the public option in the first place...not between Democrats and Republicans. Republicans have long been opposed to anything that has been proposed, from the public option to their new resistance to even the mention of co-ops.

It is quite clear that the Republicans do not want health care reform, they want a political defeat of President Obama and the Democrats. "Compromising" the public option out of the bill would simply be a move to appease those who will be opposed to any measure of meaningful reform. This is why progressives are so adamant on keeping the public option in a final version of the health care bill and why they are drawing a line in the sand around this issue. It is what Obama campaigned on and it is already a compromise down from single-payer.

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