Progressives Revolt Over Health Care Deal?


Have conservative and liberal activists finally found something they can agree on? Seems the answer is, well, kind of, sort of, maybe — as some progressives are now saying that the health-care bill is so bad it needs to be trashed.

Liberal outrage over the Lieberman compromise has led a number of progressive activists to flirt with revolt. By and large, liberal legislators are stuck voting for whatever they can get Lieberman and other moderates to agree to, but on the left, some are arguing that Democrats should just walk away. On the front page of Open Left last night, Darcy Burner wrote that "Joe Lieberman's health care bill is worse than nothing. Kill it." DailyKos founder Markos Moulitsas tweeted similar sentiments last night: "Insurance companies win. Time to kill this monstrosity coming out of the Senate." Across the progressive blogosphere, there's a lot of anger and frustration. 

And it seems that the anger is bleeding up to the progressive leadership: Former DNC chair Howard Dean said today that he's in favor of killing the Senate bill (he wants to go back to the House version), and Sen. Roland Burris (who was Obama's replacement) indicated that he might seriously consider refusing to support the health care bill if it doesn't have a public option — which, at this point, it obviously won't. The New York Times characterizes his opposition as a "vow" that he won't support a bill without a public plan, but I don't see anything in any of his statements that looks as strong as that. And as Philip Klein points out, Burris' statements are designed to allow him to go either way — which I suspect means that, in the end, Burris will go along with whatever the rest of the party supports. 

Obviously, the points of agreement between angry liberals and right-of-center opponents of the bill are pretty limited. But enough anti-reform sentiment on the left could end up serving right-wing goals as the increased tension between wavering moderates, squishy pragmatists, and outraged liberals is bound to make the already rocky road to passage even tougher.