17 February 2010

What To Do, What To Do?

Although it's not really my concern, I'm fascinated by the question of what the Democrats should do about health insurance reform between now and the mid-term elections. Should they do nothing, and alienate their base, or should they force it through and energize their opponents even more?

Their base, which might even earnestly believe that HCR will accomplish something good, badly wants reform to pass. They want the Dems in Congress to pull out all the stops, using the reconciliation process (designed for budget changes that reduce the deficit) to nationalize 1/6th of the national economy over Republican opposition. If Congress won't do that, the base at least threatens not to turn out in the fall. After all, what's the point of voting for Democrats if you can't get one measly earth-shattering, unprecedented reform through?

On the other hand, the Tea Partiers and conservative Republicans hate reform, think that it is the tool of the devil designed to make all our lives worse and think that, by electing Scott Brown, we've won. Cheat us of our victory and we'll turn out in droves. Plus, using reconciliation in this way would be, in effect, the end of the filibuster.

Add to this that the Administration probably does truly believe that HCR is not only good, but the culmination of 100 years of striving for national health care and this might be the last real chance of passing it for a generation. What should they do?


erp said...

Perhaps the cosmic convergence of Democratic legislators dropping like flies will make any decision they take moot.

Bret said...

If HCR passes, every politician of any party will be able to get a fabulously high paying job as a Health Care Administration Bureaucrat.

I'm amazed that it hasn't yet passed. I can't see any downside at all for the political establishment.

Harry Eagar said...

Today, for the very first time, I heard someone (Juan Williams on NPR) say what I have been wondering for months: Why not pass it and wait for the filibuster?

From the Democrat point of view, I cannot imagine why they wouldn't like whatever the outcome was, with the one caveat that if the bill weren't single-payer then that slice of the party would still be upset even if it beat the filibuster and passed.

If the filibusterers won, then the Dems could run against them for several election cycles. And if the bill won, then people would be grateful for at least several election cycles.

If you guys are right about the wrongness of national health care, then it wouldn't work in the long run, but we've been assured that the current system won't do that either.

erp said...

Looks like Bret and Harry have already converged. :-}

Susan's Husband said...


I noted that earlier as a deliberate strategy.

Mr. Eagar;

"Why not pass it and wait for the filibuster?"

Have *who* pass *what*? Is any bill actually fully written down yet?

Beyond that, I think the answer to your question is that the Democratic Party fears the filibuster and the GOP wants it. If the filibuster wins, then the *GOP* will run it, while the Democratic Party stalwarts lose or retire. We are already seeing this in several races (cf. Blanche Lincoln). If the bill passed, I think there are enough Democratic Party Congress critters who realize what a disaster it was that they don't actually want that, either. Let us note, for instance, that the *taxes* for it kick in immediately, but the *benefits* don't show up for *four years*, that is *two* Congressional election cycles. Do you seriously think the Democratic Party candidates want to spend 2 cycles getting hit on massive taxes with no benefits?

The thing is, any one with clue sees that this won't work even in the short run. It will be a repeat of the "stimulus" but on a grander scale. How has that worked out for its backers?

P.S. NPR, you realize, is the place that thinks "Cuban health care" would be a good slogan for this effort.