MSNBC reports that Susan Collins said today that she would be offering amendments to "improve" the health care bill even though she would be voting against it. When asked why she would bother, she replied:
Because I think something is going to pass and I would like to make that bill as good as possible even if ultimately it's not a bill I can support.
This is what I was talking about last night when I wrote "this bill probably isn't bad enough for Lieberman and his cronies to allow Democrats to commit political suicide with it."
Nobody who has announced that they will not vote for this bill should be allowed to "improve" it at this point. Unless, of course, the point is to take out every remaining piece that could even slightly offset the mandate. Which it might be. After all, Republicans are really messed up these days and need something clean and simple to run on. The least the Democrats can do is help them out.
I'm hearing a lot about the moral argument as articulated in this Ezra Klein post I approvingly linked to by Ezra the other night. (Apparently Villagers all have their tighty whities in a wad over his outrageously imporper evocation of morality when writing about health care in the pages of the venerable Washington Post. How unseemly of him. We speak of "bending the cost curve" not killing people.
Anyway, this argument will be heard a lot in the coming days. Jesse Jackson just made it. I would expect that Barack Obama will make it too, along with a political argument that says failure on health care reform dooms a whole lot of them next November. More importantly, he also pretty much said that if it fails he won't try it again. (It's now or never...)
For a variety of reasons which I've written about before, I have always thought that this vote was going to end up being a very, very hard gut check for progressives and have believed that most of them would hold their noses and vote for whatever the president agreed to. It's health care. However, recent events, particularly the arrogant interference from Lieberman and the long held dream of a Medicare buy-in being tantalizingly dangled out there then rudely pulled back, has made that calculation a little bit harder. If they counted on progressive capitulation, Reid and Obama would have been better off just killing the public option a couple of months ago rather than letting it come to this humiliating end. It's no longer just a gut check. They really forced progressives to grovel --- over and over again.
I would still guess that they will wind up passing the final bill, but the vote will be razor thin in the House ---- Pelosi will have to pull out all the stops to get it done. And whenever that happens there's always a chance that it won't work. So maybe a call to "kill the bill" will actually result in doing it. But I'm still skeptical.
And frankly I don't see how activists can affect their decision even if we want to. If Joe Lieberman publicly forcing them to eat shit doesn't stiffen their resolve, nothing will.