Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Progressive tenacity forced Reid's hand on public option

Well, inagine that. The senate's health reform bill includes a public option because, and only because, liberal senators insisted on it.

Democratic leaders were forced to include a national public health insurance option as part of health care reform by progressive Democratic senators who refused to support anything less, Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said on Monday.

Durbin's assessment was made to a handful of reporters following the announcement by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) that after weeks of talks with his colleagues he had determined that including a public option that states could opt out of was the best way to go.

For many years, it's been centrist and conservative-leaning senators who have been scoring legislative victories by digging in their heels, so this represented a quite dramatic turnabout. It is difficult to remember the last time that progressives won a legislative victory by laying down firm demands and sticking to them.
Isn't it amazing what you can accomplish by simply refusing to shut up and sit in the corner?

As late as Sunday, the chattering nabobs of centrism were insisting that liberals would have no choice but to accept Olympia Snowe's absurd "trigger" compromise as a public option substitute.

It is about time that liberal lawmakers started speaking up loudly and proudly for what they believe. In this case, the progressive caucus had everybody against them: the Republicans, the chattering nabobs, their own congressional leadership, and the White House.

But instead of listening to the bipartisanship fetishists, they listened to the people. Yes, they had their spines stiffened by some serious liberal blog activism, led by Jane Hamsher and others, but the voices of the chatterers were loud. Harry Reid was barely there. And the Obama administration was clearly in favor of selling out to Olympia Snowe rather than fighting for real reform.

But the progressive caucus in the House was always on the side of the people, and the libs in the senate stood their ground. And they got what they wanted.

It's not over yet, obviously, but real reform has the momentum.