I have long believed that Congress is not now, will not now, will probably not ever pass the health care reform bill that I would write. However, the Congress is now at a point where it must vote for the bill it has in front of it. Any further delay--and a failure to get this bill done now--is unconscionable and unforgivable.
There are whip counts everywhere you look, and according to Nate Silver, who counts better than just about anyone else on the internets, "if you take the seeming yes votes and add them to the people who are uncommitted but voted for the bill last time around, they add up to 217." That's one above the current magic number of 216.
The Washington Post is keeping track here, although they list as "undecided" some people who have clearly announced their yes votes or who would be insane not to vote yes. For example, Wisconsin's Ron Kind and Dave Obey are on there, and they're not very likely to vote no this time around. (Although if you live in their districts, it wouldn't hurt to give their offices a call and encourage passage--202-224-3121 is the House switchboard number.) Steve Kagen is on the WaPo's list of undecideds, too, not surprising after last week. Give him a call, too, even though he does not at present appear on anyone else's undecided list.
Steve Benen, who is as good a summation as Nate Silver is at math, lays out what this bill means:
The legislation is fully paid for, reduces the deficit in this decade, and even more in the next decade. It will bring coverage to 32 million Americans -- slightly better than the earlier estimate -- and extend Medicare solvency by at least 9 years while closing the prescription drug "donut hole."This is on top of some obvious benefits that would accrue immediately and the clear long-term cost-reduction and coverage measures that kick in later. This is not a bill any self-respecting Democrat should balk at and, frankly, given Republicans' professed belief in deficit reduction and fixing Medicare, it ought to be something even the GOP can get behind. But Republicans have this thing called party unity, and that apparently is more important than saving lives or walking the talk.
Voting yes on this bill is a moral imperative, not to mention an electoral imperative. (It is easier to campaign on a record of having done something than on a record of having done nothing, particularly when the status quo is deeply unpopular.) It's time.