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Defections from the Left

By Matthew Yglesias  

"Defections from the Left"

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As the White House scrambles to try to find 216 votes in the House to repass health care, it continues to have a serious problem with elements of the rejectionist left:

An influential House progressive says he’s less likely to vote for the final healthcare reform bill now that the White House has incorporated Republican ideas — which could indicate a serious problem is brewing among liberals as Democratic leaders try to figure out a way to finish work on the legislation.

“As I weigh it, I think — for me — a ‘no’ vote is something that I continue to lean toward,” Rep. Raúl Grijalva, D-Ariz., the co-chairman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, told Salon in a brief interview off the House floor Wednesday. “Especially the last additions — that was kind of a slap in the face for all of us who fought for the public option.”

I continue to find the choice of language that Rep Grijalva tends to use when discussing his angst very telling. He deems it a “slap in the face” that certain things, especially HSA expansions, were added in exchange for zero GOP votes while progressives are getting nothing from the White House on a public option. And it’s true, Grijalva and other public option advocates have been slapped in the face. That said, the bill at hand is a boon to low-income Americans who desperately need help affording health insurance for their families. If you vote “no” and kill the bill, Barack Obama’s family will still be fine. Its families in Grijalva’s district who’ll pay the price.

There’s always time, if a bill passes, to try to fight to change it for the better. You just don’t vote “no” on a major expansion of the social safety net simply because you feel you’ve been slapped in the face. In many ways, public option supporters have been slapped in the face while annoying moderates have been mollycoddled. And yet, the result of the process is a good bill that will make Americans better off. When faced with a bill like that, you vote for it.

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