The Affordable Health Care for America Act was approved by the U.S. House Saturday night with overwhelming support from progressive Democrats who serve in the chamber and from a president who was nominated and elected with the enthusiastic support of progressive voters.
But that does not mean that informed and engaged progressives are entirely enthusiastic about the measure.
In fact, some are openly and explicitly opposed to it — among them former Congressional Progressive Caucus chair Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, and CPC member Eric Massa, D-New York, both of whom broke with the majority of their fellow Democrats to vote “no” when the House approved the measure by a narrow 220-215 vote Saturday.
How can this be?
Isn’t this a fight between Democrats and Republicans? Between reforming liberals and tea-party conservatives?
How can there possible be any subtlety or nuance to this debate?
Well, of course, the debate over this 1,900-page behemoth of a bill is more complicated than the easy spin of political insiders — and media cheering sections — would have Americans believe.
Key interest groups, such as the National Organization for Women, and key congressmen who have been long-term supporters of reform, such as single-payer backers Massa and Kucinich, argue that the bill is not the cure for what ails the U.S. health care system.
Indeed, they suggest, the bill as it is currently constructed could make a bad situation worse.
Many sincere progressives in the House, and outside of it, chose to back the bill as the best that could be gotten. Others supported it on the theory that flaws could be fixed in the Senate and in the reconciliation of the House and Senate bills.
But those repairs will only be made if activists are conscious of what ails this bill.
For that reason, even supporters of the House legislation would be wise to consider the criticisms of it by groups that advocate for the rights of women, patient advocates, unions and some of the most progressive members of the House.
Here are six smart progressive complaints about the House bill:
1. FROM THE NATIONAL ORGANIZATION FOR WOMEN: “This Bill Obliterates Women’s Fundamental Right to Choose”
The House of Representatives has dealt the worst blow to women’s fundamental right to self-determination in order to buy a few votes for reform of the profit-driven health insurance industry. We must protect the rights we fought for in Roe v. Wade. We cannot and will not support a health care bill that strips millions of women of their existing access to abortion.