In the Arena

Health Reform Support Increases

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As regular readers know, I’m deeply skeptical about the polling of complicated issues like health care…but it is interesting to note that, according to CNN, support for health care reform is up, especially¬†among Democrats. This may or may not have something to say about the impact of left-wing bloggers and Deaniacs trying to scuttle the bill–i.e., their impact is minimal. Oh, they can raise some money, and eyebrows, but when they call themselves the Democratic party’s “base,” they’re being excessively optimistic. They are, if anything, the wing not the base. And given the reactionary arguments against a bill that is a massive transfer of wealth–via subsidies–toward the working poor, I’d be reluctant to call these people “progressives” as well–progressivity, strictly defined, being the notion that rich should pay a higher tax rate than the poor.

ps–Obama is up six points in the poll as well, from his previous low of 48% approval to 54%. This is an excellent showing for a President taking on some of the hardest, most controversial issues in American life.

Netroots, meet your allies: For Pete Wehner, master of short-term, right-wing conventional wisdom, the sky is always falling.

And furthermore: Over at Huffpost, Harold Pollack of the University of Chicago, has this on the massive, progressive income transfer to the working poor that this bill represents:

Fully implemented, the bill would provide about $200 billion per year down the income scale in subsidies to poor, near-poor, and working Americans.

$200 billion is a big number. It exceeds the combined total of federal spending on Food Stamps and all nutrition assistance programs, the Earned Income Tax Credit, Head Start, TANF cash payments to single mothers and their children, the Department of Housing and Urban Development*, and the National Institutes of Health.

And while the bill would also provide the insurance companies 30 million new customers, it would saddle them with a strict regulatory regime: they would have to provide coverage regardless of pre-existing conditions and within prescribed community-rating bands (which would fiercely limit their ability to overcharge the middle-aged)–and that is why the insurance companies have been spending tens of millions of dollars in advertising to kill it. This is not perfect, but it is progress…it is, in fact, the most significant piece of social legislation since the 1960s. Those who oppose it from the left are measuring it against unattainable fantasies; or they are making false charges, claiming that the working poor would be offered “junk” insurance. I find their opposition mind-boggling and myopic; it empowers the Wehners, Boehners and Coburns of the world.

*Pollack tells me that the entire HUD budget may not fit into this rubric, but it’s a remarkable stat all the same.