Final Thoughts On Health Care Reform

As I’m sure as you all know by now–despite all of the right-wing sound and fury, despite all of the astroturfed protests and fauxtrage and multi-million dollar campaigns–health care reform has become the law of the land.

Reform isn’t  ideal–I would have preferred a bill with a strong public option, if not single payer.  But this was a major undertaking with a lot of competing factions that had to be placated.  In the end, it was still a very good bill that was very much worth passing, and it gives us a good basis for future reforms (and I”m hoping the absence of the right’s promised health care apocalypse will serve to undermine whatever hyperbolic claims they make about the next stage of reform).

While health care reform isn’t exactly popular, some more recent polling seems to show opposition decreasing and support increasing.  In that vein, I think that support for health care reform hit its nadir and is likely to increase over time.

Why? Because its easy to get people angry about a bill still under construction, a bill that nobody knows what it will end up looking like in the end, especially when that bill is at the forefront of everyone’s mind. But now that reform has passed and will start going into effect, it will hard for people to believe the right’s misinformation because they’ll be experiencing the benefits of reform firsthand.

Republicans worked so hard to prevent this bill from becoming law because they knew that, once enacted, it would turn out to be politically popular.  Let’s face it, covering 35 million additional Americans, reducing the deficit, eliminating practices like discrimination based on preexisting conditions all while helping middle-class individuals and families to buy better, cheaper insurance are all very good policies.  The right sought to drown those good policies in a sea of misinformation, and they almost succeeded. But now that reform has become law, it’ll become increasingly difficult for the GOP to sustain such strong opposition.

That’s why I think the oft-rumored GOP campaign to repeal health care reform is a dud–who’s going to say they want to take health care away from 35 million Americans? Who’s going to say they want to repeal a bill that reduces the deficit? Who’s going to campaign on letting insurers deny coverage because of preexisting conditions and yank people’s coverage as soon as they get seriously ill?

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A Few Thoughts On Health Care Reform

First, Republicans will pick up seats in November. But can we all stop treating it as proof of some kind of Republican comeback or national opposition to health care reform? It’s standard for the party in power to lose seats in the first election after taking the White House.

It happened in 1994, 1990, 1982, 1978, 1970, 1966, 1962, 1954 and 1946 (2002 and 1974 were exceptions for what should be obvious reasons)–in other words, it’s a phenomenon that goes all the way back to the days of Harry Truman.

So the GOP will win seats this fall, but it’s not exactly the sign of a Republican resurgence–it’s just a normal cyclical phenomenon that has been part of American politics for nearly 70 years.

Second, conservatives keep pointing to the polls showing how unpopular health care reform is as reason why Democrats shouldn’t pass it.

But the entire conservative movement has been waging a year-long misinformation campaign on health care reform–they’ve spent a year lying to and scaring the American people.

So the question isn’t really whether or not the American people support health care reform, but if they even know what reform would do.

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IL-SEN: Giannoulias vs. Kirk

Yesterday was primary day in Illinois, which were also the first primaries of the 2010 election.

In the race for President Obama’s former Senate seat, Rep. Mark Kirk will be the GOP candidate while Illinois State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias will be the Democratic candidate.

It’s early in the cycle, so polling is pretty unreliable, but a recent Public Policy Polling survey has Giannoulias beating Kirk 42 to 34, while a December Rasmussen poll also has Giannoulias leading 42 to 39.

The NRSC, feeling the heat, has put out an attack ad entitled ‘Alexi Giannoulias: He’d Make Tony Soprano Proud.’  The video contains the same warmed-over pastiche of weak guilt-by-association Blagojevich-Rezko-Chicago nonsense that the GOP has unsuccessfully thrown at Obama for years.

(And I bet you that, had Giannoulias been named something like John Smith, the NRSC probably wouldn’t have come up with that particular ad).

It’s early–and a lot can happen in very little time–but all indications are that Giannoulias starts out this race in a fairly strong position; hopefully he won’t squander that advantage.


Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden, son of Vice President Joe Biden, has announced that he will not run for his father’s former Senate seat this year.

Despite being a statewide officeholder with a famous name, the younger Biden did not poll well against presumptive GOP candidate Mike Castle–Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight rated Delaware as the 6th Senate seat most likely to change hands in November. It’s quite possible that the appearance of nepotism was dragging the younger Biden’s numbers down.

But Delaware is also a small state, and there isn’t a very deep bench of potential Democratic candidates.

So, Biden’s announcement could be similar to Dodd’s retirement–where Democrats are better off without a big name in the race–or it could be like Dorgan’s retirement–where the Democrats’ one and only chance is walking away.

We won’t know for sure until both sides pick their candidates and we see some good, reputable polls.

MA-SEN: Everything Hangs In The Balance

The last best hope

Today, everything hangs in the balance.

If Martha Coakley loses today’s special election in Massachusetts, the entire Democratic reform agenda will be jeopardized.

Health care reform–which will provide care to 31 million uninsured Americans, help the middle class buy health insurance with subsidies, and lower the deficit–will not happen.

President Obama’s plan to recoup TARP money–taxpayer money, our money–from the big Wall Street banks will not happen.

Financial regulatory reform–designed to prevent the next major economic collapse–will not happen.

A jobs bill–which will put millions of unemployed Americans back to work–will not happen.

The repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t tell’ will not happen.

These and other important reforms will. not. happen.

It’s hard enough for Democrats to govern as it is, with the constant threat of Republican filibusters hanging over Congress like the sword of Damocles.

If the GOP wins today, governing this country will become downright impossible.

The right-wing obstructionists will rule the day; the United States Congress will be paralyzed.  Nothing will get done, nothing will get fixed; our country will remain severely damaged and in need of repair.

Progress is slow. I understand at, and I understand the frustration with the Democrats–I understand that people want everything fixed, now, today. But progress takes time–there’s still a lot of work left to be done.

Giving the Republicans power again will only move us bbck toward the right-wing mismanagement which put us here in the first place.  If someone runs your car into a ditch you don’t give them the keys again–you turn to someone else to get you out. It’s common sense.

Politics didn’t start on January 20, 2009–we all remember exactly how we got here. You want America to get out of the ditch we were driven into? Then don’t give the keys back to the folks who put us here in the first place. Keep the Democrats in power. Vote for Martha Coakley.

If you live in Massachusetts get out and vote today. And if you know someone who lives in MA, tell them to go out and vote, too. We can’t afford to take anything for granted.

Because everything hangs in the balance.

[You can find your polling place here]

BREAKING: Snyder Out

Arkansas Congressman Vic Snyder (D) just announced he will not be seeking reelection this year:

Rep. Vic Snyder (D-Ark.) announced tonight that he will be retiring at the end of his term, citing the difficult political environment that he would have faced to win an eighth term in the House.

“2010 will be a robust election year during which great forces collide to set the direction for our country for another two years,” Snyder said in a statement.

“I have concluded that these election-year forces are no match for the persuasive and powerful attraction of our three one-year old boys under the leadership of their three-year old brother, and I have decided not to run for re-election.”

He was one of the most vulnerable House Democrats up for re-election, with a SurveyUSA poll released today showing him trailing his Republican challenger Tim Griffin by 17 points.

[Emphasis mine]

For those of you keeping track, Snyder is the 11th House Democrat to announce his retirement this cycle.

To compare, 15 House Republicans have announced their retirements thus far.

MA-SEN: Problematic Polling & Right-Wing Delusions (UPDATED)

In the Massachusetts Senate special election, a new Research 2000 poll shows Attorney General Martha Coakley (D) beating state Senator Scott Brown (R) by 8 points.

Let’s recap the recent polling on this race:

A poll by Democratic pollster Mark Mellman has Attorney General Martha Coakley (D) beating State Sen. Scott Brown (R) by 14 points.

A poll by Republican pollster Scott Rasmussen has Coakley beating Brown by 9 points.

A Boston Globe poll has Coakley beating Brown by 15 points.

And a Public Policy Polling survey has Brown leading Coakley by one point.

And another, more recent Rasmussen poll has Coakley leading Brown by 2 points.

But PPP has a spotty record when it comes to special election polling–their final NY-23 poll was 19 points off from the election results (more on that here).

And in regards to that Rasmussen poll, it’s awfully convenient how, right when Republicans were using that PPP poll as proof their candidate was gaining, Rasmussen put out their own poll–contrary to nearly every other survey out there–showing exactly that.

Especially when you consider that producing polls that reflect the right-wing conventional wisdom (though not always reality) seems to be Scott Rasmussen’s MO.

To recap, we have 4 polls showing Coakley comfortably ahead and 2 (problematic) polls showing her within the margin of error.

And yet, the right has decided this is proof that their candidate is going to win on Tuesday.

You know, just like how Doug Hoffman was going to win in NY-23. And how John McCain was going to win in 2008. And how the Republicans weren’t going to lose Congress in 2006.

Then again, the fact that much of the conservative movement is entirely out of touch with reality isn’t exactly news.


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