1. It’s Tuesday, June 20, 2017.
2. It’s Brian Wilson’s 75th birthday. Given the personal struggles of one of this country’s greatest composers, I’d bet he wouldn’t have bet on reaching that milestone.
3. Today is the special election in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District.
Democrats want this seat. Bad. Every third e-mail I’ve gotten in the last two weeks is a pitch from the party or the candidate, documentary producer Jon Ossoff.
I can measure the time I spend deleting solicitations for money that get more and more frantic with each passing hour.
The race shouldn’t be close. This has been a solid Republican seat for 25 years. The election is being held because Tom Price left it to try to destroy health care for millions as Trump’s Health and Human Services Secretary.
Ossoff led the initial balloting, but just missed getting the 50% needed to avoid this runoff. He’s up against Karen Handel, a Republican who appears to be consolidating the non-Ostoff vote.
The race is considered a toss-up. Ossoff was thought to be ahead until last week, as a barrage of outside group ads knocked him down. We’ll find out tonight if the folks in the district that’s mostly outside Atlanta will deliver a message, or maintain the malaise that has afflicted the nation since Jan. 20.
God only knows.
4. More important, Senate Democrats have spent the past day trying to shame their Republican counterparts into revealing their health care bill.
It wasn’t likely to work – the indications are that the Republicans will introduce the bill soon and severely limit debate.
But it’s important to fight, and at least the Democrats are fighting.
Now, what I’d really like to see is a public, thought-out Democratic proposal to improve the Affordable Care Act.
The biggest concern people have is that their premiums continue to rise. It’s almost impossible to stop that, given how inflation in the health care sector appears to be sharper than it is in the overall economy.
But a proposal that would limit or cap increases might go a ways toward improving the program.
One other thing I would offer:
If you don’t have health insurance, either on your own or through your employer, you now pay a penalty. That’s an important provision for ACA, because its success hinges in large part of getting healthy people to buy in so that it alleviates the burden on those who need health care services more.
But a lot of young people think it’s better to pay the penalty than to buy insurance. And that’s what they do.
I think a proposal to reimburse a year of the penalty to anyone who buys insurance might provide a little incentive to get more healthy people to sign up.
The details would have to be worked out – would it be in the form of a tax credit or cash payment.
But giving more carrot incentive to get on board with the health care plan might be helpful.
And trumpeting improvements is an important thing for Democrats to do. It shows what they’ve claimed all along – that Obamacare is a work in progress, and that improvements over time will make it better.
That scares the crap out of Republicans. Obamacare popularity, which was missing when it was first passed, is the big reason it’s so hard for them to just dump it.
As the GOP feared when the act passed, people have gotten accustomed to the ACA and decided they like it.
But the Democrats need to be more than just obstinate. They need to keep moving forward, as hard as that is without holding power. Selling the nation on improving, not replacing, Obamacare is a way to do that.