Put Kennedy’s name on a weakened bill, and you’ll likely be able to break the progressive bloc in the House in two seconds flat when "the Kennedy bill" comes out of conference with the individual mandate but no public option, and progressives are faced with having to oppose "the Kennedy bill." As strong as they’ve been on holding firm in their demands, putting the Kennedy name on a weak bill — and remember, nothing at all prevents this — can only drain their resolve.
With the Kennedy Health Care Plan intact in the bill, there’s no reason the legislative vehicle that creates it cannot also bear his name. But while there’s still a fight ahead about just what will be in this bill, if we’re going to lend Ted Kennedy’s name to something, let it be done in a way that keeps him in the fight to fulfill his vision right to the last, and which keeps his name on people’s lips when they are finally able to take their families to the doctor without fear of financial ruin, saying, "We’re covered by the Kennedy Plan."
Putting Kennedy’s name on the HELP bill means that they can join it with the Finance Committee bill in any way they see fit and still call it the Kennedy Bill. Like they’re going to take his name off of it without a public plan? A chorus of ex-Kennedy staffers like Paul Begala would swell up to tell us how he’d be proud of this form of "compromise."
Then, as Kagro said, it would be used to bludgeon a progressive block in the House who were not only "killing health care," but "betraying Kennedy’s memory."
Kennedy fought for affordable universal health care, not a mandate to bail out the insurance companies. Kagro is right — Kennedy’s name should be given to the public option, not used to push through a bill that obliterates it.