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Dems Reap All the Red-Baiting Pain with None of the Socialist Gain

Democrats did not offer a truly socialized health care system like they have in the United Kingdom. They did not just pass a universal single payer health care system like "Medicare for all." Not only did the bill not include a public option, but the regulations on the private insurance companies are extremely loose. Despite passing an extremely industry friendly, pro-private market, health insurance expansion bill, Democrats were still attacked by Republicans as socialists pushing a "government takeover" of health care.

Similarly, the bill with the Nelson abortion language and President Obama's executive order will be perhaps the biggest political and policy victory for the anti-abortion movement in decades. On the policy front, it will likely cost millions of women the abortion coverage they now have, and, on the political front, you have a Democratic president signing an anti-choice executive order. Yet, even on the same day as their huge victory, Republicans were still calling the health care bill the most pro-abortion piece of legislation since Roe v. Wade. Bart Stupak (D-MI), through brilliant negotiation and an iron will, scored a huge victory for the "pro-life" movement, yet he was rewarded by a Republican screaming out at him "baby killer."

Democrats did almost everything they could to bend to Republican criticism. They dropped the public option, rolled back a woman's right to choose, and added cruel, costly, and stupid restrictions on undocumented immigrants buying of health insurance; yet the Republicans still levied the same attacks, regardless. Fearing the "government takeover of health care" line, Democrats dropped the incredibly popular public option leaving themselves with the politically toxic individual mandate forcing people to buy only private insurance. Yet, even with the public option gone, the Republican screams about how it is a socialist nightmare remain unchanged.

Democrats get accused of being socialist and baby killers no matter how hard they try to appease Republicans or kick their own progressive base. They have taken all the political blame for "socialism" without the political and policy upside of providing people with a popular public program like Medicare available to all.

If this health care fight finally taught congressional Democrats that Republicans will always tell insane lies and that they simply can't ever be appeased with policy changes, it just might have all been worthwhile. If you are going to get the blame either way, do the legislation the smart way to at least get maximum credit when it works.

Sadly, I doubt the lesson was learned.

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Jon Walker

Jon Walker is political writer and blogger for FireDogLake. He is an expert on health care policy and the politics of health care reform.

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