Monday, 18 January 2010

Progressive should be working their TAILS off for Martha Coakley

In recent months, we've been hearing a lot of complaints from progressives who wanted a stronger health care reform (and stimulus package, and climate change legislation, and...) than President Obama has been able to deliver.

Since I'm one of the folks who would have liked more than we've got, I can sympathise with a lot of these feelings - although not with the blame pointing at Obama, who as far as I can tell has been moving heaven and earth to win progressive priorities.

But what I especially don't understand is this: those progressives who wanted a stronger bill ought to be going to the wall to prevent Martha Coakley from losing the Massachusetts Senate race. After all, if the Republican Scott Brown wins, he has promised to vote against reform in the final vote.

This would leave Democrats with two options -
1) Allow health care reform to fail. A disaster for pregressives, and for the country.
2) Pass the Senate's version of the bill unchange.
Option 2 is possible because the Senate has already voted on it, so an identical bill passing in the House would move it straight to the President for signature.

But the Senate bill is MUCH LESS PROGRESSIVE than the House bill. In recent weeks, House Democrats have been negotiating compromises to the Senate billl that would make it more acceptable to the House's more left-leaning caucus. The House compromises would add more regulation, greater access, a more progressive tax structure and stronger cost reductions. It would make it a better bill, in short. Marginally closer to what progressives have been looking for.

But without Coakley's vote, all of these improvements disappear (in a best case scenario) at least in this round of legislation, or health care reform may die out altogether - possibly for yet another generation (in the worst case scenario).

It couldn't be any more clear that the best thing progressives can be doing today to get the changes the are looking for is to obsessively help get out the vote for Martha Coakley.

Yet instead I'm hearing rumblings about "punishing" Barack for his supposed failures by withholding support. Can't my fellow progressives see that the real victim here would be themselves?

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