Columbia University Professor Lincoln Mitchell has a post up on these pages on the dynamics of the debate. Let me grab one part of a larger piece that is eminently clarifying:
Progressives who oppose this bill are not being obstructionist, making the perfect the enemy of the good, or sabotaging their president. They are taking the position that history has shown us that opportunities to reform health care do not come along very often, making it essential to get it right when those opportunities arise.
This is precisely what informs those who take the admittedly extreme-sounding position that the current legislation should be scrapped and the effort to reform the health care system restarted. What they recognize here is that what's been driving the reform effort in the first place is a crisis, a crisis of mounting costs to our system and diminishing returns for a populace that's struggling to stay afloat financially and remain in good health.
Pushing the reset button on this process restores the crisis and thus restores the urgency that forced Obama and the Congress to take up the measure in the first place. (Emphasis mine)
Here's what Paul Krugman said a couple of days ago:
And here’s what happens if a bill isn’t passed now: Democrats lose seats — maybe a lot of seats — in the 2010 midterms. A weakened President Obama wins reelection, maybe - but even that isn’t certain. No way he has the votes for another try at health care before 2015. Quite possibly, there isn’t another chance until 2021.
The cowards and thieves need to lose their seats for not meeting the needs of their constituents and caving in to the insurance companies.
If the bill is passed, it will make health insurance available to millions of people who can’t get it now either because of preexisting conditions, or because they just don’t make enough: community rating and the subsidies — remember, we’re talking about almost $900 billion in aid — will make a huge difference. Yes, there will be some people forced to buy insurance by the individual mandate; everything I’ve seen says that the number of people for whom this will be a real hardship will be far less than the shouting suggests.
Easy to say if you're not one of those being forced at gun point to buy something you don't have the money for.
We can some (sic) back to this. Progressives can push for bigger subsidies; stronger exchanges; a reinstated public option; stronger cost controls. Some of these things can be done through reconciliation. Having this bill in place will make it easier, not harder, to do these things than having passed nothing.
Krugman doesn't usually believe in the tooth fairy, but what he just said is too simplistic for the current reality.
I’m not happy — this is too flawed a bill for joy — but I am relieved ( or will be once I’m sure that Joe Lieberman isn’t going to pull a double-cross). You can’t always get what you want. But if you try sometimes you might find you get what you need.
That motherfucker has already double crossed the process to the tune of 23 million people that will be left out in this bill.
Too many people will be happy with the something is better than nothing approach, but sorry this bill is worse than nothing. At present those that don't want to be extorted by the insurance companies have the option of not buying their product. With this bill they will be required to buy insurance or face a 2% surcharge on their income taxes. This isn't reform its extortion.