Given the rules and politics of the Senate, we always knew that to get true health care reform passed, we would need for four things to happen:
- The outside-of-government pro-reform community would have overcome their modest policy differences and bigger power/personality struggles in order to pull together for a strong progressive plan.
- President Obama would have to lay out an aggressive timeline, and keep nudging it along on Capitol Hill; and also put out some big and progressive policy goals, and then actually fight for them.
- Speaker Pelosi would have to work the Blue Dogs hard to get enough of their votes without selling out progressives by giving too much away.
- The progressive wing of the House would have to hang tough and push back hard on attempts to weaken the legislation.
Well, you know what? After all the pushing and shoving, threats and counter-threats, deals and counter-deals, after all the negotiating back and forth: so far, so good. There is no reason to be overly optimistic, because we have a very long way to go, and the mountains to climb before we get there are huge and treacherous. But reform is still alive, because so far all four of those things are happening. Us reformers may yet get out-gunned and beaten. Pelosi and/or Obama, desperate for some kind of win, may yet give up and fold to the insurance companies. Progressives in the House might yet allow themselves to get picked off one by one to vote for a bad deal, and progressives outside of government might run out of money or steam, or start squabbling too much amongst themselves before the deal is done. But so far, give credit where credit is due. Health care reform that actually takes power away from insurance companies and gives them competition, that actually makes coverage affordable for all Americans -- it's still alive. Everyone who needed to step up has stepped up. Praise is due you for what you've all done so far.
The last phase of this battle will be brutal, but if all of the above keep doing their job, we've got a shot at this thing. Let's all keep fighting the good fight.