But For Wales?

Why Richard, it profits a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world… but for Wales?

Thomas More in A Man for All Seasons by Robert Bolt

The New York Times editors urge Congressional Democrats to pass their version of healthcare reform even if it means without any Republican support:

Clearly the reconciliation approach is a risky and less desirable way to enact comprehensive health care reforms. The only worse approach would be to retreat to modest gestures in an effort to win Republican acquiescence. It is barely possible that the Senate Finance Committee might pull off a miracle and devise a comprehensive solution that could win broad support, or get one or more Republicans to vote to break a filibuster. If not, the Democrats need to push for as much reform as possible through majority vote.

It’s difficult for me to understand their reasoning. The bills before the Congress do little about the most pressing issues in healthcare reform which include cost and availability. No, universal coverage is not the same as universal availability. The bills don’t add a single physician, hospital, or nurse. For greater ability we’ve got to have an increasing supply of healthcare and increased coverage without increased supply will mean decreased availability, if anything.

The bills don’t represent a narrow majority view, as the Times suggests. They represent a minority view. That’s clear from the national polls, see here, here, and here.

As has been said before no progressive Democratic Congressman will lose his or her seat for voting against the half-baked reforms that the current bills comprise. And it’s pretty likely that some “Blue Dog” Democrats will lose their seats to Republican competitors if they vote for these bills.

But worst of all even the flawed reform that they’ll have opportunity to vote on probably isn’t the reform that they want. If Democrats are going to risk some of their members’ careers and their party’s Congressional majority for healthcare reform, shouldn’t it be for the reforms they really want?

Rather than voting for the prolix, absurd bills the Times wants them to fall on their swords for, wouldn’t it be a lot smarter to go for single payer?

4 comments… add one
  • Once the GOP decided that it would make no contribution and vote against any and all proposals, this stopped being about health care reform and became about politics.

    The single most useful political asset the Dems have is Obama. They need him to win this. They worry that failure will reduce his usefulness as a political asset of much greater importance than a handful of House seats.

    The GOP understands this and is single-mindedly focused on destroying Obama.

    In any case, I don’t believe the Dem majority is in danger, certainly not because of these various health bills. We have here a temporary hysteria which will evaporate or shift focus once the bill is signed.

    The fate of the Dems will have much more to do with consumer confidence, the stock market, housing prices and above all, unemployment, than it will this particular battle. Over time elderly white panic — which I believe is the emotional force driving the GOP at the moment — will lose steam. In fact, I think it’s already topped out, having um, climaxed, too soon.

  • Mary Link

    Uh, no.

    John Kerry said this morning on the Sunday shows , very firmly, that the Dems are going to have to follow Ted Kennedy’s legacy and COMPROMISE.

    And that was when he was asked about the fate of the public option.

    Looks like Kerry is preparing you for the inevitable.

    Does this mean that Obama um, climaxed, too soon?

  • Mary:

    You’re assuming that we define public option as victory. I don’t. I’ve said from the start I thought the PO was trade goods: the thing we’d give up.

    Personally, I’d like the PO, but my core goals are portability, and end to pre-existing conditions, an end to cancellations and transparency. I’d love to see some other things as well, but I’d be happy with the above.

    This was never primarily about cutting costs for me. I think that’s for a later time. We’ll take the basics now, and add a PO in a couple of years when we realize costs are still skyrocketing.

  • Brett Link

    Pelosi actually is going to allow a vote on single-payer at some point in the fall, although obviously because she thinks it will fail.

    The bills don’t add a single physician, hospital, or nurse.

    With added coverage, you’ll probably have more demand for health care, which (all things being equal) would create incentives for the creation of more supply.

    All things are quite obviously not equal (the heavily regulated system of licensing doctors, for example, limits supply).

Leave a Comment