The Democrats’ health care coalition is falling apart rapidly – faster, it seems, than Sen. Harry Reid can write amendments into the 2000+ page bill, even! As they try to shift the bill one direction, another Senator or more drops off because the compromise is considered unacceptable, sounding more and more like the legislative version of Goldilocks (“Too big!” “Too small!” “Too expensive!” “Not enough subsidies!”)
Senate votes aside, there’s been a string of high-profile defectors on the liberal side because the bill has not been progressive enough. Howard Dean told a Vermont radio show yesterday that it’s time to kill the bill – a sentiment echoed by Jane Hamsher of FireDogLake. Today’s latest case of cold feet? Labor unions.
From the Huffington Post:
Two of the country’s largest labor groups, the SEIU and the AFL-CIO, are each holding emergency executive meetings today to discuss whether they should support the latest round of health care compromises made by Senate Democrats.
Though there’s no official word yet, early indications based on talks with various officials are that the groups will either formally oppose the legislation or, less dramatically, just not fight very hard to ensure its passage.
Labor leaders are fuming at the concessions that Democratic leadership made in the last few days to win the support of the caucus’s most conservative members, notably Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.). A bill that already included one highly objectionable provision (a tax on so-called Cadillac insurance plans) was stripped of a provision beloved by labor: a public alternative to private insurance coverage. Frustration boiled over even further after the leadership succumbed to Lieberman’s demand to jettison even the compromise to the public option — a proposal to expand Medicare to those as young as 55.
In his book Leave Us Alone, Grover Norquist at Americans for Tax Reform argues that a coalition on the left will always be unsustainable because they are the “takings coalition,” and will fight over how to split up the pie. Looks like he hit that nail on the head…!