THE TREATMENT JANUARY 20, 2010
Few people in Washington have done more to promote, or care more about, health care reform than SEIU president Andy Stern. He also happens to have good political judgment. And he has some advice for the Democrats, just published in the Huffington Post:
The House should pass the Senate's health insurance reform bill - with an agreement that it will be fixed, fixed right, and fixed right away through a parallel process.
Reform can work - the Senate bill can serve as the foundation for reform and include at minimum the improvements the Administration, House, and Senate have negotiated. We cannot squander the opportunity to make real progress. The House and Senate must move forward together. And, there is no reason they cannot move forward together to make those changes through any means possible - whether through reconciliation or other pieces of moving legislation.
Some in Washington may want to throw their hands up and walk away; others may call for walking back reform by passing something smaller. So let's just say it: the Democrats own health reform. They own the votes they already took. And, they own what health reform will stand for. Most importantly, it will be a major achievement the American people need and deserve. There is no turning back. There is no running away. There is no reset button.
Update: The AFL-CIO has released a statement saying it opposes unconditional passage of the Senate bill. But in a great piece of reporting, Brian Beutler teases out the AFL position: It sounds like they could live with something like Stern's scenario, after all, as long as they knew a Senate reconciliation fix was coming. And is that possible? Everything I've heard today suggests no. But Beutler quotes Kent Conrad, of all people, suggesting it's not out of the question. It's about the only encouraging news I've heard all day.