Glad to See The New Republic Agrees with My Take

Today, in two blog posts, TNR writer Jonathan Cohn writes essentially the same I did yesterday:

First, Mr. Cohn wrote that the meme that the Democrats are somehow trying to jam health care through some sort of peversion of Senate rules is nothing but a flat out lie:

Republicans continue to accuse Democrats of “ramming” or “jamming” health care reform through Congress by using the budget reconciliation process. Put aside all the familiar rejoinders–that Republicans used it all the time to pass their bills, that the reconciliation process merely allows a majority to pass a law, etc. The accusation is misleading in another respect.

If the House votes for health care reform, it will do so by passing the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.” That is the bill that will build the infrastructure of reform–including the new insurance exchanges–and provide the vast majority of the funding. In other words, that is the bill that will do most of what reform critics find so objectionable. And it has already passed the Senate with sixty votes.

Second, he wrote that what became crystal clear yesterday was that the two parties do not want the same thing:

Despite the artifice and the posturing, this summit accurately conveyed the central realities of the health reform debate. It exposed the central differences between the two parties. Democrats want to expand activist government to cover 30 million people who will otherwise go uncovered. Republicans don’t. Their alternatives would cover only 3 million people; they bluntly refrain from doing more. That difference was apparent in the rhetoric, the human stories, and the casual anecdotes told by Democrats and Republicans around the table.

It is disheartening that the Democrats felt they needed to get 60 votes because to do so they gave up many great liberal ideas such as a public option or Medicare for all. But they got nothing in return because they were negotiating against themselves. And even if the Republicans had come to the table to negotiate, nothing would have been achieved because the two parties have vastly different goals. As I said yesterday, if two parties do not want the same thing, you cannot negotiate a solution.

Had they had the courage that the Bush Administration and Congressional Republicans had when they “jammed” through the 2 bush tax cuts using reconciliation, with less than 60 votes in the Senate, we would have had Health Care Reform that is not essentially the 1994 Republican alternative. Instead of having real competition for private insurance companies through a Medicare buy-in or a public option, what we have is a private market solution. But what is missed in this whole debate, especially about the recent rate hikes in California, is that the insurance companies are doing exactly what they are supposed to do: they have a fiduciary responsibility to their shareholders to maximize profits. To do that, they cherry pick the healthiest customers, rescind insurance contracts for the sick, deny coverage, and raise rates. If there was a viable government alternative to them they would not get away with it. But there is not one. And there does not seem to be any likelihood we are going to get one. Had the Dems just dropped any thoughts of getting 60 votes or bipartisan support, a public option or medicare buy in would have been achieved.

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3 Responses to “Glad to See The New Republic Agrees with My Take”

  1. Doug Says:

    Providing healthcare to the estimated 30 million American without healthcare is a noble goall. There’s not a Democrat or a Republican that doesn’t want to help those without healthcare. Unfortunately, only the Republicans are wise enough to see beyond stage one — providing healthcare to those without — to recognize that our government is simply incapable of attaining that goal, as laudable and desirable as it is, without doing great damage to our economy and the continued prosperity of our country. Frankly, I find it laughable that the Democrats so frequently liken their healthcare proposal to Medicaid, a social net that is bankrupt without any plausible solutions. I agree, however, that we did see everyone’s true colors at the recent “healthcare summit” (I think Peggy Noonan calle it a “set up”). I think the electorate will remember and the Democrats are in for a whooping come mid-term elections. The majority of the people of this country do not want the Democrats’ healthcare “solution” and no matter that it oases with 51 or 59 votes in the Senate, the Democrts are still ramming through legislation that is just plain misguided an dangerous.

    (please excuse any typos, I typed this on my mobile device and was unable to review my comment before publishing)

    • mschonholz Says:

      I have seen no Democrat liken their proposal to Medicaid. I know of many who would prefer to open Medicare up to all. But I know of none who say we should have Medicaid for all. Yes, their proposals do have more people who are currently ineligible for Medicaid becoming eligible for it. But that is not the same thing to likening their entire proposal to medicaid. In fact, the heart of the bill is a national exchange, modeled on the federal employee health benefits, that both you and I enjoyed when we clerked for federal judges. That is one of hte more successful health care programs around.

      As for whether the Democrats are in for electoral blood bath in the fall, it will be most likely be dictated by unemployment and not any of the coming votes. And frankly even if it was dictated by any vote for or against HCR, the Democrats already voted for HCR. Even if they vote against the bill now it is not like the repbulicans are going to forget about the prior votes. If they want their base to show up, they have only one choice: pass the HCR now.

      As for “ramming’ through HCR, exactly how many votes would you call for so that it is not ramming? 60? 70? 90? Republicans called for 60 votes and on Christmas eve, Harry Reid delivered 60 votes. What will be by majority vote now is fixes to that bill such as taking out deals that Nebraska, FL, and Louisiana got. These are deals that Republicans rail against. The “guts” of the bill passed with 60 votes in the senate and will be passed by a majority in the house.

      As for Republicans not wanting to do something this big, where were they in 2003/04 when they and their president passed the Prescription Drug benefit with only 55 votes, without even attempting to pay for it? That program is going to put us trillions in the hole. While this plan actually saves us billions according to the CBO. And how about those bush tax cuts for the rich, both of which were “rammed” through with less than 60 votes? They costs us trillions of dollars and were not paid for. those three pieces of legislation, more than any other laws passed recently are the reason we are in such a fiscal deficit.

    • mschonholz Says:

      I want to add something to my comments regarding what might or might not happen in November. Historically, the president’s party does terribly in mid-term elections. Only a few times have they gained seats as GWB did in 2002 but that was only a year after September 11. But Democrats are also projected to do bad simply because they did so well in 2006 and 2008. They were able to do so well because they won seats in traditional republican districts. So regardless of what Dems do now, many of their new members are in trouble and would lose anyway. Voting for or against health care will not help them much anyway.

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