Dingell points the way forward

DINGELL POINTS THE WAY FORWARD…. Rep. John Dingell (D) of Michigan has been fighting for a health care reform bill since the day he got to Congress — 55 years ago. His father fought for a health care reform bill before him, alongside Harry Truman. This is not some passing interesting for Dean of the House Conference and the third longest-serving member of Congress ever.

And he agrees with the strategy that seems obvious to every except his House Democratic colleagues.

Dingell … thinks Democrats should first put Republicans on the spot opposing the bill, then move ahead without them.

“They can go to conference,” Dingell told me in an interview this afternoon. “Bring the Republicans in. They’ve been whining about the need to have transparency, let them get up there and say that they oppose this bill before the people.”

Once that exercise is over, though, Dingell says Democrats should bare (sic) down and pass the Senate bill. “I don’t foreclose the utilization of the adoption of the Senate bill, accompanied by an agreed to piece of legislation to be embodied in the reconciliation package,” Dingell says. “And just tell the Republicans that you have a chance to co-operate with us, and if you don’t we’ll be proceeding.

He also told Brian Beutler, “There is only a limited amount of time to address this.”

On the other hand, there’s Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), who suggested today that Congress just delay the consideration of health care altogether for up to six weeks.

I suspect Dodd means well — he’s helped get reform this far — but that’s a recipe for failure. The bill isn’t going to improve over the next month and a half. Giving more opponents more time to attack, extending a debate no one wants to hear anymore, is a dreadfully bad idea.

Update: Bill Galston tends to oppose ambitious progressive activism in nearly every instance, and has never been especially supportive of the reform initiative itself, but even he thinks the House needs to step up and pass the Senate bill quickly.