The Dems’ Wasted Opportunity on Health Reform


Republicans have placed their assault on health care reform at the top of their agenda for the new Congress, planning to put a repeal of the federal law up for a vote as soon as possible. Full-out repeal is unlikely to go anywhere: even if the bill passed the House, it would have trouble clearing the Senate, and President Obama could always veto it in the end. But the GOP hopes the vote will give Republicans the momentum to undermine support for the law on the state level, gut smaller provisions, and pave the way for killing reform under a Republican administration.

That being said, the GOP attack also gives Democrats a second chance to sell health reform to the public, as I’ve previously explained earlier. The New York Times lays out the Democrats’ vow to launch an “all-out effort” to defend the law, aided by outside groups who fought for the bill’s passage. But Democrats have been promising to make a full-court press on health reform for months, and the party still has yet to follow through. This week, for example, would have been a prime opportunity for health reform’s defenders to step up. Some of the most popular early provisions of the law went into effect on January 1: any co-pays on preventative care are prohibited; health insurers must spend a higher percentage of the cost of premiums on actual medical care; and some Medicare beneficiaries will receive a 50 percent discount on prescription drugs.

But you aren’t hearing many Democrats explaining how Republicans are determined to take such benefits away from the American public. Rather, as Jonathan Chait points out, leading Democratic voices like Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY) are only complaining that Republicans are wasting time with their repeal effort. There’s no way of avoiding the health care debate at this point, and simply dismissing the Republicans’ sturm und drang just allows the GOP to continue dominating the conversation.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate