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Jonathan Tasini Headshot

Screw The Center

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I've never liked the nonsense about the importance of the political "center.". As I see it, that has basically been a cop-out--a fear of confronting the people who want to continue to rip-off the workers of the country by promoting the notion that the "center" requires that taxes be low (meaning, taxes on the very wealthy) and that we don't mess with the so-called "free market", no matter how disastrous that ideology has been.

Which is essentially what Paul Krugman says today on the subject of whether we will get health care reform:

The question now is whether we will nonetheless fail to get that change, because a handful of Democratic senators are still determined to party like it's 1993.

And...

The real risk is that health care reform will be undermined by "centrist" Democratic senators who either prevent the passage of a bill or insist on watering down key elements of reform. I use scare quotes around "centrist," by the way, because if the center means the position held by most Americans, the self-proclaimed centrists are in fact way out in right field.

What the balking Democrats seem most determined to do is to kill the public option, either by eliminating it or by carrying out a bait-and-switch, replacing a true public option with something meaningless. For the record, neither regional health cooperatives nor state-level public plans, both of which have been proposed as alternatives, would have the financial stability and bargaining power needed to bring down health care costs.

And...

But this fantasy can't be allowed to stand in the way of giving America the health care reform it needs. This time, the alleged center must not hold. [emphasis added]

To be clear, I am a firm believer in single-payer health care. I don't care for the public option existing along side the continued insurance industry thieves. But, the point Krugman makes is accurate--we are being held hostage to the "center" when the "center" has no real standing among the people.

We need to carve the rotting "center" out of the political calculus so we can return to debates about what makes sense in the real world, not in the world of political maneuvering, back-room deals and Albany-style politics that is never really about the people.