America’s political scene has changed immensely since the last time a Democratic president tried to reform health care. So has the health care picture: with costs soaring and insurance dwindling, nobody can now say with a straight face that the U.S. health care system is O.K. And if surveys like the New York Times/CBS News poll released last weekend are any indication, voters are ready for major change.
The question now is whether we will nonetheless fail to get that change, because a handful of Democratic senators are still determined to party like it’s 1993.
The real risk is that health care reform will be undermined by “centrist” Democratic senators who either prevent the passage of a bill or insist on watering down key elements of reform. I use scare quotes around “centrist,” by the way, because if the center means the position held by most Americans, the self-proclaimed centrists are in fact way out in right field.
What the balking Democrats seem most determined to do is to kill the public option, either by eliminating it or by carrying out a bait-and-switch, replacing a true public option with something meaningless. For the record, neither regional health cooperatives nor state-level public plans, both of which have been proposed as alternatives, would have the financial stability and bargaining power needed to bring down health care costs.
Honestly, I don’t know what these Democrats are trying to achieve. Yes, some of the balking senators receive large campaign contributions from the medical-industrial complex — but who in politics doesn’t? If I had to guess, I’d say that what’s really going on is that relatively conservative Democrats still cling to the old dream of becoming kingmakers, of recreating the bipartisan center that used to run America.
Gee Paul, for a really smart guy you can be kinda dumb sometimes. Your thesis is based on a false premise. The Democratic leadership (Obama, Pelosi and Reid et al.) have no intention of enacting any real health care reform. They never did. Their goal is and always was to preserve the status quo while giving the illusion of reform.
If they tried and failed that would be one thing, but they aren’t trying. There has never been a better time in our history to make single-payer a reality, but the Democrats took it off the table before discussions began.
What we are seeing now is just Kabuki – when the final curtain drops all we’ll have is some new lipstick on the same old pig.
Blame Obama, Pelosi and Reid – it’s their fault.