Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Momentum for Health Care Reform

The logic of elections and political power is finally bearing itself out in the health care reform debate. With control of the white house and large majorities in both houses of Congress, including 60 votes in the Senate, it was always within the power of the Democrats to pass sweeping reforms. It also has been their biggest issue for 20 years. This is what Democrats, what Obama, were elected for. So it is not too surprising that they are in a position to get it done.

What is surprising is how well it is working. Pelosi, Obama, and others did not lose their nerve (not so sure about Reid - he was better in the minority by far). And we are now on the verge of getting the legislation to the floor. What's better is that the question is now now "will there be a public option" but - likely- what kind. Moderate Dems are realizing that there is no way to demand cost containment but oppose the public option at the same time. Snowe is looking for a compromise. On the Democratic side, the question is whether Landrieu (LA), Nelson (NE) and Lieberman (FU) will vote against the whole package if it has a public option of some kind. The expectation is apparently now that they will "work against" having one, or work to water it down, but will not oppose the legislation altogether if one is included. It helps a lot that the Dow is at 10,000 and next week the numbers will come out showing the Great Recession is officially over, and that economic growth has resumed. True, there is still lots of pain, but the belief that things are going to improve - i.e., HOPE - is what elected the Democrats in 2008, and will bring them renewed political victories in 2010.

All this is not inside baseball. It is all about whether we will finally get health security for Americans, or whether we will continue to live in a country where most people's health insurance covers too little, and where we have no real choice (most of us get a "choice" of the one plan our employer offers -I can "choose" only one PPO or one HMO, for example). The irony is that only government employees really get more choices these days.

This is a big deal. So far, the President has done a bad job of selling the bill, but it's getting better. The insurance industry has helped out a lot. Private for-profit health insurance has committed atrocity after atrocity, and their unpopularity is a millstone around the neck of their GOP allies.

This is phase one: passing the bill. Phase two is capitalizing on the reform politically in 2010 and 2012.

1 comment:

Raised By Republicans said...

A lot of smart people had written off health care reform from the start. Including some friends of the blog who lurk but rarely post. These people usually said things like "Democrats always mess it up." Or "Obama isn't managing this well." Or "Obama has too many things on his plate and can't possibly do them all at once."

But I think Obama has been playing this well. People have complained about his role in this, saying he's not being clear or not proposing enough of a detailed bill etc. But by letting Congress come to something resembling a limited number of alternatives, Obama avoided having his particular alternative appear to be defeated.

If Obama had done what Clinton did (put out a very detailed omnibus bill), Congress would have amended the heck out of it at best. In that situation if a bill did pass it would be Congress' bill not Obama's and he would look like a loser even if health care reformed passed.

In this situation, Obama can step in late in the game and put his influence behind one of a small number of Congressional alternatives being debated now and claim a huge share of the credit. Harry Ried's dithering is just making it easier for Obama to claim credit.