Whether you believe health-care reform will hurt Democrats is like that old conundrum about whether the glass is half full or half empty. It all depends on where you sit.
From where I sit, reforming our broken health-care system will help more than it will hurt, not passing it would be a disaster, but there are no painless paths from where we are.
If you believe that President Obama is a socialist, that this is a takeover of the nation's health-care system, and that, as some signs at some conservative rallies have said, "ObamaCare should be buried with Kennedy," then you absolutely believe that passage of health care will hurt Democrats. Of course, you probably already believe that being a Democrat lowers your IQ.
All of those are falsehoods. The big lie is that it is a takeover; and I say that as one who wishes that it were! A single-payer, Medicare-for-everyone system was supported by many of us -- but was never voted on by either the House or Senate. The much-vaunted public option seems to have been jettisoned by the Senate, leaving the unscrupulous private insurance monopoly without a public sector competitor that would hold down costs.
And even the modest Medicare buy-in proposal, which would have enabled early retirees an opportunity to join the nation's largest public health-care program -- which also is the most efficient and least expensive -- and reduced the health-care costs of their employers, faced an early demise.
This is a takeover of the nation's health-care system like "Dancing with the Stars" is intellectual stimulation and is as likely to lead to systemic reform as the Detroit Lions are to win the 2010 Super Bowl.
If you believe that nothing is better than what remains in the health-care proposal, then you are more pessimistic that I am, even if it is not all the change we sought.
Both the House and Senate bills ban the existing insurance company policy of prohibiting those with pre-existing conditions from purchasing insurance on the individual market. It would forbid insurers from dropping customers when they get sick.
And 30 million Americans who cannot afford private insurance will receive subsidies to help pay the cost. If anyone thinks that change could happen in another way, in some far-off perfect future and that the outcome would be better, well, just count the number of years it took to get here since 1994 when Congress last tried to make reforms.
If we abandon this legislation with the thought that we can go back to the drawing board and do better, we are fooling ourselves. Can you accept the status quo for another decade or more to get another bite at the apple? Everyone can't. The better strategy is to take as big a bite as we can -- now!
Michael J. Wilson is the national director at Americans for Democratic Action in Washington, D.C.