Now that it looks like Congress is only inches away from producing a surprisingly decent healthcare bill, Paul Krugman lays down the law:
Everyone in the political class — by which I mean politicians, people in the news media, and so on, basically whoever is in a position to influence the final stage of this legislative marathon — now has to make a choice. The seemingly impossible dream of fundamental health reform is just a few steps away from becoming reality, and each player has to decide whether he or she is going to help it across the finish line or stand in its way.
….For conservatives, of course, it’s an easy decision: They don’t want Americans to have universal coverage, and they don’t want President Obama to succeed.
….Should progressives get behind this plan? Yes. And they probably will.
The people who really have to make up their minds, then, are those in between, the self-proclaimed centrists….I’d just urge them to take a good hard look in the mirror. If they really want to align themselves with the hard-line conservatives, if they just want to kill health reform, so be it. But they shouldn’t hide behind claims that they really, truly would support health care reform if only it were better designed.
For this is the moment of truth. The political environment is as favorable for reform as it’s likely to get. The legislation on the table isn’t perfect, but it’s as good as anyone could reasonably have expected. History is about to be made — and everyone has to decide which side they’re on.
I don’t know if “self-proclaimed centrists” listen to Krugman, but he’s right. The modest public option that’s survived the sausage factory so far just isn’t a big enough deal to sink the entire bill over. At least, it’s not if you really want healthcare reform in the first place. It’s time for everyone to figure out if they do.