So today is the day when we find out if the Democrats can manage to pass their Health Care Reform agenda. As I write this the vote is scheduled but has not yet been taken and so here are a few of my final thoughts on this.
First: Health care reform is needed in this country. The current system is growing more dysfunctional each year. If it does not pass now then in 10 years when the problems will be worse and more people are without insurance and businesses are feeling the strain even more we may be facing the sort of change that prompts revolution. I do not mean armed overthrow of the government but rather a reform that throws out the old system entirely, such as a Single Payer system of the like.
Second: The proposed reform isn’t the best nor is it the worst of the idea floated out there for reforming our health care system. It’s middling. Friday night a conservative friend asked me if I thought this package was a net minus or plus if it passed and he seemed shocked when I described it as a mild plus. This is not the reform I would have done, but it is a start and it can be adjusted and modified as we find a package of reforms that work.
Third: This reform is not socialism or a government takeover of the healthcare industry. I work in the industry and the bosses of my 2 billion dollar company do not see it as socialized medicine or a take over. It is a new swath of regulations on how the Health insurance industry is run, but regulation is not take over and people who are saying so are either engaged in hyperbole or are lying. Health Insurance is becoming much more like utilities than a regular consumer product. This is not necessarily a bad thing and it is not socialism.
Fourth: Republican opposition in my opinion is much more about politics and winning the next slate of elections than it is about principled stands. I wish I could find it again but I had read an interesting article comparing the current reform package to the Republican proposed reforms back in 1994. The current package, without single payer or a public option, looks very much like what the republicans proposed as an alternative to Hillary Care in 1994, yet now not a single Republican can vote for this package. The truth of the matter is that with Obama’s big win in 2008 the Republicans cannot let him have big wins in the manner in which the government is run. They have made a strategic stand to oppose everything, to deny him victories and use that as their best hope to return to power. It is a valid and not stupid plan, but their stand today — in my opinion — is more about the coming elections than about what they really want.
(Though I will grant you that Republican do not want Health Care Reform. They had the chance and it wasn’t even on their list of things that they wanted to do. There is lots of things that they did want, Tax Changes, education changes, national security changes, changes to our retirement system and regulatory changes, some of these they achieved and some they did not, but Health Care reform was not on the list. When tehy say they care and want to reform the system they are not being truthful.)
Fifth: Passing this package is good politics for the Democrats in the fall elections. This may seem kind of out there, especially given some of the polls numbers out there against this issue. Well, some of those polls numbers are cooked. You’ll hear that 70%+ want the bill scrapped, but that adding together those who wanted something much more liberal — like single payer — and those who wanted something much more libertarian — like cross state markets and little regulation. Those faction may not like the package but they are not voting together this fall. More importantly, people love winners. In politics there is the ‘bandwagon effect.’ As someone wins they pick up more support, that leads to more winning and more support and a positive feedback loop. If the Democrats pass this package the news narrative will be that they are winners. This will motivated their base and play out positively in the public. Of they lose and do not pass, they are losers and weak and they will bleed support even faster.
(They’ll lose seats no matter what happens. They have a very high number of seats and losses should be expected.)