Is There Any Depth of Support for Wyden-Bennett?

TWO UPDATES, SEE BELOW:

A common refrain I keep hearing for why Wyden-Bennett would have no chance of succeeding if it ever came to a vote is that even though it has bi-partisan co-sponsorship, the Republicans co-sponsoring it are merely using their co-sponsorship as political cover since they know it has no chance of actually passing.  Were Wyden-Bennett to actually come to a vote, they argue, not only would no more Republicans vote for it than have already signed on as co-sponsors, but most of the Republican co-sponsors would actively drop off.  As such, goes the refrain, advocacy of Wyden-Bennett is the surest way to guarantee that there will be no health care reform at all. 

I have two problems with this line of thinking, which largely seems to stem from this Ezra Klein post.  When I first read that post awhile back, I thought it made sense, although I thought Klein was ignoring that any remaining Republican support whatsoever would significantly undercut the power of the Blue Dogs to water down Wyden-Bennett in the way they have watered-down HR 3200. 

My first problem with this line of argumentation is its implicit assumption that HR3200, in whatever form it finally passes, would at least be an improvement over the status quo from the point of view of anyone who actually cares about health care reform.  However, as I’ve pointed out before, there are plenty of reasons to believe that it would not be enough of an improvement over the status quo (and would in fact double-down on the single worst element of our health care system) to justify the huge expenses associated with it, particularly at a time when our national debt is already disturbingly high and accelerating by the minute. 

My second problem is that this line of argumentation goes beyond mere cynicism (which I fully support) to the point of automatically assuming the worst of one’s political enemies regardless of whether there is evidence for that assumption. 

Indeed, in re-reading that Ezra Klein column, I am struck by how little evidence he has to back his claim up.  The evidence amounts to noting that Senator Bob Corker was a co-sponsor in 2007-2008, but has not signed on in 2009.*  That’s not at all unusual, though – politicians drop off as co-sponsors from session to session all the time, but will still vote for it if it comes to an actual vote. A good comparison would be the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform, which was the first piece of legislation I could think of that had failed and then passed in consecutive sessions.  In that case, Fritz Hollings and Bob Torricelli  co-sponsored it in 1998-99, dropped off as co-sponsors in 2000-2001, yet still voted for it in 2001 (I’d also note that John Chafee co-sponsored it in 1998-99 before he died, and his son Lincoln did not co-sponsor it in 2000-2001, yet still voted for it).  Moreover, Klein fails to note that Lindsay Graham was not a co-sponsor previously but now is one.

The point is that Klein reads far too much into one Senator dropping off as  a co-sponsor from one Congress to the next and fails to provide support for the assertion that Republican support would not only fail to increase if Wyden-Bennett came to a vote, it would actually decrease – we are asked to take on faith that since Klein has followed this issue for years, he knows what is actually in the heads of the Republican co-sponsors of the legislation.   Yet he doesn’t even imply that he has a source that is inside Congress that confirms this suspicion, much less a source from inside one of the Republicans’ offices.

The other thing that’s interesting about Wyden-Bennett, and which Klein ignores, is that it doesn’t appear to be merely “bi-partisan.”  Its co-sponsors have ranged from die-hard conservatives like Trent Lott (who didn’t even have an electoral reason to support it since he was resigning) and Mike Crapo to centrists like Grassley, Graham, Specter, and Lieberman to die-hard liberals like Wyden and Maria Cantwell.   This type of support is usually indicative of a bill that is ideologically palatable to all sides rather than a bill that is able to achieve bipartisan support merely by bribing a few centrists with some bacon or window-dressing. 

Moreover, it’s worth taking a look at the Heritage Foundation’s review (written in March 2008, when health care was just beginning to return to the center of our national debate) of Wyden-Bennett, which could only be described as mild criticism combined with subtle praise.  Although the review is clearly critical of the increased regulation of the individual market that it would implement, and thus calls it inferior to alternative legislation from Tom Coburn that would amount to the conservative ideal, it’s pretty clear that Heritage’s position was that it would represent an improvement over the status quo, stating that:

By introducing the Healthy Americans Act (S. 334), Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) and his chief co-sponsor, Senator Robert Bennett (R-UT), have courageously challenged the status quo on the federal tax treatment of health insurance and public health programs for the poor. The bill correctly targets the inequitable tax treatment of health care that favors coverage obtained through the place of work. It also recognizes the weakness of the existing public health programs, Medicaid and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP).

Indeed, at least one Heritgage Foundation fellow was recently heard on NPR agreeing with Paul Krugman that Wyden-Bennett was the best approach to health care reform, and that health care reform is needed.

That’s not to say that I think Wyden-Bennett would definitely pass if it came to a vote.  It would run into fierce opposition from Big Labor that would utterly destroy the support of Midwestern Democrats (although maybe not, since Debbie Stabenow of Michigan has twice signed on as a co-sponsor) and quite possibly the Dem leadership in Congress, which is also heavily dependent on those interest groups.  Meanwhile, it’s hard to see the GOP leadership backing it at this point, even if a good chunk of the rank and file did, since they don’t want to hand the Democrats a victory.  However, the assumption that Wyden-Bennett would clearly fail to pass and would indeed fail miserably without the support of almost any Republicans or Blue Dog Democrats is an assumption for which the evidence is sorely lacking.

In fact, given that Wyden-Bennett has been around for years, and things like the “public option” are very recent additions to the health care debate, I suspect that the chief reason why Wyden-Bennett has never been pushed by the Dem leadership is precisely because it is unpalatable to Big Labor. 

I’m usually one of the more cynical people when it comes to politicians, but in this case the evidence that Republicans would turn against Wyden-Bennett if it came to a vote is pretty weak.  It appears to me that liberals who assume that Republican support for Wyden-Bennett would disappear were it actually pushed are committing the cardinal sin of underestimating their opponents, attributing the worst possible motives to all of those opponents despite clear evidence to the contrary and without any supporting evidence. 

UPDATE: Reading the comments to both this post and E.D’s earlier post, I see that there is this temptation to treat both all conservatives and all Republicans as monolithic.  Beyond the fact that I always tend to find this logic frustrating, especially after complaining about conservatives doing this to liberals for the last 8 years, this temptation reduces conservative and GOP incentives down to exactly one: the desire to prevent the Democrats from taking credit for anything.  This is an important desire for the GOP leadership, but it would be unwise to give it primacy to the GOP rank and file.   Maybe it will help to take a look at the political calculus each GOP senator and congressman has to go through under the competing bills.

HR3200, or anything else that the Dems are trying to push through purely on the strength of their existing majorities:

Reasons to support:

  • The mood in “swing” districts makes support for any kind of reform popular

Reasons to oppose:

  • Ideologically unpalatable in every way to principled conservatives
  • Extremely unpopular with the GOP base
  • Would allow the Democrats to take credit for a potentially popular “reform”
  • Imposes significant costs on key GOP constituencies outside of the populist base, particularly their donor base

This is already going to weigh heavily in favor of vehemently opposing the legislation in most cases, but the reasons to support something akin to HR3200 are even more undermined by the fact that increasingly few Republican pols are in “swing” districts or states.  Even amongst those in such districts or states, the conservative base in those states is usually strong enough (the exception apparently being the State of Maine) that a politician who supported HR3200 or something like it would be risking a tough primary challenge if he signed on.   In other words, for all but a handful of GOP pols, HR3200 is structured in such a way that it’s going to be a complete non-starter.

But let’s look at what the calculus would look like for Wyden-Bennett:

Reasons to support:

  • Ideologically palatable, if imperfect, to principled conservatives
  • Would arouse no particular ideological passions from the conservative base
  • The mood in “swing” districts supports almost any type of health care reform whatsoever
  • Politically weakens a key Democrat constituency
  • Financially benefits key GOP small business donors by cutting the employer-insurance ties.

Reasons to oppose:

  • Would allow Democrats to claim a legislative accomplishment on an important issue
  • Has some provisions that are ideologically inconsistent with conservatism

Now, preventing the Dems from claiming a legislative accomplishment is a huge thing for the GOP’s national leadership.  Indeed, by itself, it’s probably enough to keep the GOP leadership from giving it their blessing.  But the GOP rank and file is not the GOP leadership.The small number of GOP legislators in swing districts and states would be able to promote their support of health care reform without risking a primary challenge.    GOP pols who are truly conservative ideologically but are pragmatic enough not to make the perfect the enemy of the good would likewise be able to support it since it does the one thing that conservatives view as absolutely essential to health care reform.  GOP pols on the fence might also get swayed by the support from donors.  These groups might not add up to a majority of the GOP members of Congress, but they would not be insignificant either.  Would it be enough to overcome the influence of Big Labor on Dem pols?  I don’t know, but it would at least be close enough that it’s not out of the question. 

*Although Klein doesn’t mention it, I should acknowledge that Sens. Grassley and Gregg have also dropped off as co-sponsors, but both of them are Grassley is a centrist who may well vote for something resembling even HR3200 in the end anyhow is dedicated to the Baucus working group, so there is even less reason to assume that theyhe wouldn’t support Wyden-Bennett if it ultimately came to a vote.  [UPDATE II]: Additionally, it’s worth noting that all of the GOP co-sponsors, including Judd Gregg, signed their names to yesterday’s Washington Post commentary supporting the bill.  That’s a pretty public commitment to supporting it should it ever see the Senate floor.   Although Klein continues to insist, without any evidence, that “most conservatives reject the bill” (how many conservatives even know what it is?), this has seemingly led him to drop his insistence that the GOP co-sponsors have no intention of supporting it for the long haul, saying “this is a group that believes in the value of good compromises.”

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35 thoughts on “Is There Any Depth of Support for Wyden-Bennett?

  1. Great post, Mark. It is odd that so many people take Ezra at his word (and Yglesias, for that matter). I agree – I think there is a lot more support and potential support for W/B. Especially if it emerges as the compromise that saves reform.

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  2. Mark–I think this would have a lot more credibility if it weren’t for history. Every time Democrats have tried to reform health care, it’s been greeted with “this will be their Waterloo” or the nearest equivalent; it’s been mercilessly demagogued with this crap about euthanasia for the elderly; it’s been treated as a political football, and not as a flawed attempt at a shared goal (i.e. universal coverage).

    Given that history, I’m not sure why you expect Democrats to play Charlie Brown kicking the football. Why would they propose a plan that does, unfortunately, piss off a key Democratic constituency (not to mention incite massive resistance from the insurance industry), on the hope that maybe this time it will get a few Republican votes? There needs to be a more credible commitment, and that kind of credibility can only be built up over time. It certainly can’t be assumed into existence on the backs of a few cosponsors and a mixed review from the Heritage Foundation.

    Frankly, if Republicans want to be trusted on Wyden-Bennett, the first moves will have to come from them. It’s asking way, way too much to call the Dems unreasonable for not being very trusting this time.

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    • But this just isn’t true. Yes, 1994, they got demagogued to death – but what was proposed in 1994 was blatantly unpalatable to conservatives in any way shape or form. Meanwhile, Nixon pushed hard for national health insurance, but couldn’t get anywhere because it didn’t go far enough for liberals at the time; granted this was over the objections of good chunks of his own party, but that’s not the point. The point is that Democrats simply refused to give any consideration to good-faith proposals put forward by the other party.

      Hell, this isn’t even about trusting the Republicans as a group. Wyden-Bennett wouldn’t need the support of the majority of Republicans if it came to a vote – it would just need enough to overcome the opposition of labor Democrats, which, while significant, is not even a majority of Democrats.

      Look, I’ve spent the last 2 years often complaining about the way in which conservatives pretend that Democrats and liberals are monolithic. What I see in this discussion is liberals and Democrats doing precisely the same thing – treating Republicans and conservatives as monolithic.

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      • For about 15 years now, the Republican Party has been largely monolithic. And for the entirety of the Obama Administration thus far, they have been just about uniformly opposed to anything the Democrats have tried to do. Maybe I’m just assuming the worst about the other guys, but I don’t think it’s without cause. The Republicans have presented basically zero reasons why anyone should trust them. If they wanted me to believe they were good-faith partners, they had a stimulus bill and a Supreme Court nomination on which to demonstrate that. They manifestly did no such thing.

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      • Mark–when the Republicans took over in 1994, did any of them come back and offer up a more acceptable plan to achieve universal coverage? No. As for Nixon, that was 1972–well before the emergence of the modern Republican party. I’ll have more on this later, rest assured ;). But in the end, I just don’t think the GOP holds universal coverage as a priority, and so I’m not sure I see a road for them to compromise.

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        • If you’re going to ignore 1972-1973 (and there’s a strong case to be made that the Nixon years had a pretty close relationship to the modern GOP, homages to Goldwater notwithstanding), then that leaves us with a sample size of exactly one, which is a poor basis for making conclusions, particularly when the 1994 attempt was truly a nonstarter for Republicans.

          And while you’re probably correct that the GOP doesn’t view universal coverage as a priority, that’s very different from saying that it is an automatic dealbreaker for the GOP or even that opposing it is a high priority for the GOP. The central aspect of Wyden-Bennett from a conservative/GOP perspective is going to be the fact that it decouples employment and health care. Whether its other elements would overcome support for that central aspect would depend on the particular politician at issue.

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  3. Worth noting that the use of budget reconciliation (which, depending on how negotiations go in September, is increasingly likely) would make Senate GOP support irrelevant and would require only 50 votes for passage…

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    • Count me opposed. You can’t use reconciliation to set up any regulatory framework (it’s only for strictly budgetary items), and there is no point in making the Senate even more poisonous than it already is. Far more useful would be simply discarding the filibuster (which also isn’t happening).

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  4. I’m very much opposed as well. A couple of worrisome signs though:

    1. The springtime budget resolution contained reconciliation instructions for both Obama’s student lending proposal and health care, meaning the option is very much at the Majority’s disposal absent a breakthrough before October 15. This is very much Plan B for health care reform this year and, absent a breakthrough, could easily become Plan A.

    2. The writer of the Byrd rule (which limits the use of reconciliation to budgetary issues) resides in the Democratic caucus. While he objected to Clinton’s attempted use of reconciliation for health care, perhaps 16 years without reform have softened his stance. This is, of course, not to mention the fact that the Democratic-appointed Parliamentarian interprets reconciliation under the Byrd rule.

    2. Recent unusual parliamentary steps by the Majority to include

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  5. I am opposed as well. Gridlock yesterday, gridlock today, gridlock FOREVER!!!!

    (Also, someone stole something from my kid this morning right out of the baby buggy. Does anyone have any leads?)

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  6. I’m a cynic myself Mark but spoken in purely political terms it doesn’t make sense. The Democrats have no incentive to enrage some of their core constituents in hopes of possibly garnering republican support for a bill that Republicans would like more. It is really not encumbent on the majority to cater to the Republicans in that manner. If the Republicans had held up Wyden-Bennett and pushed for that as a cheif alternative I would be singing a different tune but they did not. Their response to the Democrat proposals was to advocate a continuation of the status quoe and to hurtle accusations of forced termination of the elderly etc… The fact of the matter is that the Republicans have not comported themselves as an honorable opposition. They’ve been doing nothing but obstruct and demonize ever since the election.

    That said, if the Democrats suddenly decided to abandon their current bill and support Wyden-Bennett I’d be thrilled. I just don’t consider it likely and I don’t feel that the Dems are cupable for Wyden-Bennett sitting idle.

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    • I don’t really disagree with this, except to the extent that you’re saying that it’s incumbent on the Republicans to push this. I think the leadership of both parties is equally at fault, and yet acting equally rationally. What the Republicans are doing right now in terms of generally sandbagging is more or less understandable and to be expected given the size of the Dem majorities right now. That doesn’t make it right – but it does make it precisely what one would expect from a party in such an overwhelming minority.

      It’s also understandable and to be expected that the Dem leadership is doing the complete opposite – pushing for legislation that is palatable to all of their interest groups and refusing to push legislation that isn’t, no matter how well that legislation would actually work.

      The problem is that in pushing only legislation that is palatable to all key Dem constituencies, the Dems are left in a situation where no legislation that they push is going to be remotely palatable to any but the most centrist Republicans, of whom there are going to be precious few since the destruction of the GOP in recent years has left it with only a handful of seats from truly “swing” districts and states, and even fewer seats from “swing” districts and states where it’s possible to win a primary without the support of movement conservatives.

      My wager is that if Wyden-Bennett were ever put to a vote, the leadership of both parties would vote against it, while a sizable majority of the remaining members would vote for it. The problem is that the party leadership controls what does and does not get through committee, to say nothing of what does and does not get pushed in the press (which is probably the more important power).

      I guess what I’m saying is this: just because it’s completely appropriate and accurate to be despondent and cynical about the actions of party leaders doesn’t mean that it’s appropriate and accurate to be despondent and cynical about what back-benchers would do if given a chance to overcome their party leaders.

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      • This is actually why I think the most important thing liberals and conservatives should be out on the streets holding hands over is procedural reform. Rebuild the committee structure, end the filibuster, etc. There are many things we could do that would make the Congress – especially the Senate – more responsive to actual voters and less beholden to special interests. And, for my money, they’re way more important than health insurance reform, cap-and-trade, or whatever.

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    • I don’t feel that the Dems are cupable for Wyden-Bennett sitting idle.

      To take up Mark’s side for a moment, the Dems are certainly partly culpable — they’re the majority, for cry-yei! (You probably meant not solely culpable, which I think we all would agree with.)

      But the point is, they have really pretty fair reasons for it, if you allow some amount of political reality to be accepted as legitimate. We’ve discussed it, but they’d have to backstab labor (which would be like asking the next Republican president to nominate someone pro-choice for the Court), and Wyden-Bennett really would be a heavy lift politically in general at this point in any case. People like “If you like what you have, you can keep it,” and won’t appreciate being told that their health insurance arrangement has rested until now on what has been deemed an undeserved or at least unwise tax exemption (we pseudo-wonks take that as a commonplace, but I’d put general familiarity with that fact among the employer-covered public at, I don’t know, 15%? …25%?), and we’re going to be taking that away now, thank you very much, so you should probably start thinking about what you’re going to do when you employer stops offering coverage in the very near future. That’s not a good policy argument against it, but politically, uff-da!

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      • And also Yes to Michaels point.

        Sad as it is, principles aside, Democrats would get absolutely flattened in the polls by Wyden-Bennett. Labor would be livid and the vaux populi would be almost as angry as labor. Even were they inclined towards Wyden-Bennett I have no doubt that the Dem Leadership would not touch it for that reason alone. Heck they haven’t moved on DADT even though it’s got a 75% backing to be repealled.

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  7. any remaining Republican support whatsoever would significantly undercut the power of the Blue Dogs to water down Wyden-Bennett in the way they have watered-down HR 3200

    The Blue Dogs would not be the issue. What you’re ignoring is that Wyden-Bennett would lose significant numbers of Dems, perhaps enough to kill it, bit if not certainly enough to put the Republicans in the driver’s seat. Why would Pelosi stab labor in the back just to get to that scenario?

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    • You’re right about that. In my defense, that sentence was trying to convey what I thought when I first read that Klein post awhile back, not what I think now. Later in this post, I tried to suggest that I now recognize that the problem would be with Midwestern Democrats (who tend to have closer ties to Big Labor) and the Dem leadership (which likewise can’t afford to anger the unions). Coastal (and maybe Mountain West) Democrats outside of the leadership, though, can afford to cross labor unions in a way that Midwestern Democrats can’t.

      Still, I’m wagering that if it came to a vote, a majority of Dems and a sizable minority of Republicans would vote “Aye.” The problem is, of course, that you’re never going to get a vote if the leadership of neither party can afford to allow it to go to a vote.

      This post is more or less explicitly assuming that this obstacle will be overcome (even though I’ll be the first to admit that it has not a snowball’s chance in hell of being overcome). I’m more trying to question the cynicism that says not only will Wyden-Bennett never come to a vote, but it’s not even worth trying to get the leadership to push for a vote on it since the Republicans who say they’d support it never actually would. I guess I’m just frustrated by the notion that, when Dem leaders act cynically on behalf of constituent interest groups, it’s totally excusable since they’re just behaving the way that rational politicians act, but when Republican back-benchers act in a commendable way, it’s because they’ve got ulterior motives such that those commendable actions should not be supported.

      My point, ultimately, is just that I think it’s a big mistake to treat health care reform as a battle between good, if flawed, Democrats, evil conservatives and Republicans, and nearly as evil Blue Dog Democrats. In reality, the real problem is the disconnect between the interests of political leadership and those of semi-principled back-benchers.

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      • I’m not for demonizing anyone, except those who quite clearly ask for it (Obama = Hitler types). I will, as I hope everyone will, always express strong disapproval for actions I strongly disapprove of, however, and be skeptical about motives where I deem it appropriate.

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      • Also, I’m not sure I buy your notion that leadership are evil and backbenchers in both party good. It seems like more undemonstrated conjecture to be honest. Don’t leaders hew pretty closely to what rank-and-file will swallow, the better to stay on as leaders? It’s a rare leader who has her way with the rank and file against their interests time and again and stays (a.) leader (b.) of the majority for long, it would seem to me. There aren’t very many LBJs.

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        • I should probably clarify. I’m not trying to portray leadership as evil or backbenchers as generally good. Instead, I’m just trying to point out that there are widely divergent incentives amongst individual politicians even within the same party. I also don’t think that what the leadership of each party is doing here is necessarily at odds with their backbenchers’ interests; instead, they’re pursuing strategies that try to keep the interests of most of their caucus aligned with the interest of their party as a whole. The trick is to find a way of separating those interests – hence the reason why procedural reforms are ultimately so important.

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  8. Mark’s position really is clear enough — no to reform at this time in this way. The other person who posts on health care here is E.D. I am not entirely clear where he stands on HR 3200. I get the feeling he wants to support reform, but can’t support that, and so wants to focus on what he can support, no matter how dead it seems to be at this point. While I understand and sympathize with his dilemma, I’d like to suggest that it would serve the debate if he would accept the rmifications of the position (I think) he holds (no on HR 3200). Then we could really pretty much just proceed on the basis that this site is pretty much clearly against health reform as offered by this Congress, at least until other contributors start weighing in with other viewpoints. I think that would be healthy, though I’m not in charge. But clarity is good, and that is pretty much what’s going on in my view. Understood, there are alternatives people here support, even ones with “bipartisan” support (majorities tend to be more useful in passing legislation), but they’re not doable at this time. Yes, that’s absolutely in part because a dominant constituency of the majority in Congress would see that reform pass over their dead bodies, and there isn’t sufficient public support for the proposal to trump that. (In fact, it would be a heavy lift in terms of selling it to the public even if it didn’t undercut a powerful constituency.)
    But those are familiar, legitimate, time-honored reasons why certain legislation doesn’t become law, not some perversion of the political process. There are all sorts of rational proposals that aren’t even considered because they affect powerful interests. Politics is the art of the possible, and if you want to changes what’s possible, then you gotta reform the politics. For now, if you want to reform health, you gotta work with the politics as they exist.

    So folks here are against what’s on offer. That’s okay! That’s a completely legit position. I can work with that. I say lets accept it, be clear about it, and try to start un-muddying the waters about it, because it brings debate back around to what’s really happening in the world. I think that would improve the quality and germaneness of the discussion here. Just one dude’s opinion, though.

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    • I think if you asked Freddie, or maybe Scott, or perhaps Jamelle you might get an entirely different position on this, though there hasn’t been much out of our more liberal (or Canadian) posters on Health Care. I can only speak for myself though, and I’d say you fairly capture my take on all of this.

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      • You’re quite right. There are obviously many others who post here, and I’d be interested to hear what have to say. That would be have been better directed generally to people here or elsewhere engaged in this discussion about Wyden-Bennett vis a vis the main bill. And it’s an opinion only; I’m not claiming that it’s self-evident that the debate should move in that direction.

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    • This shouldn’t be read as a call for anyone to stop advocating for those reforms that they support. By all means, keep pushing for Wyden-Bennett, or parts of it, in hopes that opinion swings in its favor. I just don’t think it’s helpful at this point to be holding out for it in this Congress in a way that obscures debate about what is likely (or not so likely, as also may be the case) to pass. Again — just my opinion.

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    • Krauthammer has a two-pronged proposal: tort reform and severing the employer-insurance link.

      To the first, the purported role of malpractice liability as a driver of health cost growth has been largely debunked: http://www.centerjd.org/air/pr/090722.html

      To the second, this is already a topic of hot debate in many places as we speak. For one such place I would refer you to a website with the following url: ordinary-gentlemen.com.

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      • This is an odd debate, where many people think these ideas recently orginated from blog posts. The problem with government interference in healthcare has been discussed for many years. The weirdest aspect of it all has been the refusal to look at government’s role in the present healthcare problems. Not only do older people not see Medicare as a government program, the proponents for more government involvement don’t acknowledge that government involvement has gotten us to this point where reform is necessary. If we were really looking for solutions, we’d be looking outside government involvement, but no one seems to be concerned about solutions, only which political offering is valid. Everyone thinks of healthcare as a system which only needs the right government engineering to fix it, but healthcare is a service between providers and those who need the service, yet government has inserted itself to the point that simple service between provider and patient is practically impossible — and now government wants to complicate it even further.

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  9. Related to Michael Drew’s last points, I’d urge people to check out David Frum on what comes next–it’s well worth reading, especially if you think that Republicans will come back with Wyden-Benett or a similar counteroffer.

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