Remember health care reform
? The nearly year-long slog to overhaul the nation's dysfunctional health care system came tantalizingly close
to passage but stalled
after Republican Scott Brown displaced a Democratic Senate vote. Now President
Obama is planning a bipartisan health care summit
on February 25 to kickstart the process. Will this, or any other Democratic gambit, actually work? Or have they lost the momentum
- Fix Public Opinion Roadblock Liberal blogger Matthew Yglesias focuses on
popular opposition to the individual mandate, which he says is crucial
to making reform work. President Obama earlier opposed the mandate,
apparently because it was "politically poisonous," but then decided to
go ahead anyway. But Obama never tried to fix the popular distaste for
mandates. "Now that congressional Democrats once again seem to be
flinching, this same roadblock in public opinion that Obama identified
in the first place is still there."
- Voters Will Never Accept Costs And that dooms reform, says Reason's Peter Suderman.
"[T]he public favors all sorts of health care benefits but isn't
interested in any of the usual ways—higher taxes, changes to
Medicare—to pay for them," he writes. "I'd love a brand new 70-inch
flat panel television and a lifetime supply of Doritos, but I'm not
getting either." The solution is to recognize that you can't have the
flat-screen, you can't have health care reform.
- Dems Must Man Up On Reconciliation
That's the Congressional procedure by which passing a bill requires 51,
rather than a filibuster-proof 60, Senate votes. The Washington Post's Ezra Klein insists it's the only way,
but "Republicans are attempting to brand it an abuse of power [...]
Democrats haven't even begun the work of defining it as a simple
up-or-down vote." Democrats must frame reconciliation as a legitimate
tool, not an abuse.
- Or Is It a Suicide Nuclear Option? Conservative blogger Allahpundit thinks
Democrats might even use reconciliation to push through a more liberal
version of reform that includes the public option. "Increasingly
November looks like a doomsday scenario for Democrats — and if the
asteroid’s about to hit, why not throw caution to the wind and pass the
plan you really want?" He believes this will severely worsen electoral
prospects for Democrats.
- Senate Dems Giving Up The New York Review of Books's Elizabeth Drew blames
Democrats in the Senate for losing the political will to proceed, saying the hold-up is "as much psychodrama as legislative
stalemate." She traces this to the reaction to Scott Brown: "The opportunity
might have been lost as a result of a misreading of a fluke in
Massachusetts. To successfully remedy this misreading would require a
certain amount of will, but, at least in the Senate, whatever will had
been present appears to be fading."
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