Thursday, December 17, 2009

The American question: Health care

Sorry, one more post about American politics. A timeline:

December 5: Atrios emails Booman to suggest liberals should feign coolness to the Medicare buy-in compromise.
December 13: Lieberman comes out against the compromise
December 15: Lieberman says he opposed Medicare buy-in because liberals, notably Anthony Wiener and Howard Dean, supported it.
December 16: Howard Dean pens an op-ed (to be published the following day) saying that now the bill is unsupportable.
December 16: Jay Rockefeller calls Dean's comments irresponsible.

As the poet says, "Same night, same fight, but one of us cats ain't playin' right." Am I the only one coming to this suspicion?

If you haven't yet read them, and you care to, I think Nate Silver's comments on all the bill is ("To claim that a health care bill without a public option is anything other than a huge achievement for progressives is, frankly, bullshit.") and Matt Yglesias's on all it ain't ("That's what leverage looks like. Supposedly pro-reform Democrats have failed to exert any real leverage in this fight.") are worth a read.

My own thoughts? The president, in his address to Congress earlier this year, said somewhat aspirationally, "I am not the first President to take up this cause, but I am determined to be the last. " If one were to take that as a goal, this bill is a failure---more action will clearly be required by future presidents, because the compromises made in getting a bill passed will need to be fixed. But it's oddly unfair to the president to take him at his word on this; he was speaking almost certainly rhetorically. I think that what liberals should think of the compromise really should turn on whether one thinks the present bill would provide a platform for that future action, or else short-circuit popular support for more drastic change and further entrench an imperfect system. I suspect most experts believe the former, but I really have sympathy for the latter. But honestly, what the heck do I know?
Update: In which I repeat myself in comments, and Ezra Klein ignores me. Dead to me, Ezra. Dead. To. Me.

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