In light of Max Baucus’ now circulating health care bill, Josh Marshall asks if he is “the only one who thinks that if the Dems pass a bill with mandates and subsidies for poor and moderate income people to purchase it but no public option or competition with the insurers, that it will be pretty much a catastrophe for the Democrats in political terms?”
As it so happens, he is not the only person who thinks this will be a catastrophe for the Democrats. As he notes, this kind of half-reform leaves Democrats in the worst possible position; it forces poor and moderate income people to purchase still-expensive insurance without providing adequate subsidies or substantively regulating the insurance market. A plan this timid would rightly be perceived by most Americans as burdensome and inefficient, and voters will respond accordingly in next year’s elections.
As I’ve said many – many – times, congressional Democrats need to realize that their electoral fortunes are tied directly to passing good legislation. Not only will voters like and respect the party that passes effective health care reform, but Republicans will be completely discredited when health care reform passes and a year from now the United States hasn’t slipped into a commie/socialist/fascist totalitarian dictatorship. Rick Perlstein describes programs like Social Security and Medicare as efforts that created more Democrats, and if the party leadership really is interested in building a durable, long-term majority, it needs to remember that successful legislation leads to successful parties, and vice versa.