Health Care Reform Infighting

The health care reform debate is clearly getting a little heated. The kill the bill crowd and the swallow the pill and pass the bill crowd just aren’t coming to resolution on what the Democrats should do. Here is Matthew Ygelsias getting annoyed at personal attacks on his pro-bill position:

The cute meme of the day seems to be that the health care reform debate is breaking down along the same lines as the Iraq debate. Which is to say that since, for example, Matt Yglesias was wrong about Iraq he’s also wrong about health care and we should listen to Howard Dean.

He concludes

It’s true that views about the Iraq War line up with views about health care only if you exclude (a) all politicians, (b) all conservatives, and (c) the most prominent liberal pundit in the country. But that’s a mighty arbitrary way of looking at the universe.

Nonetheless, there are substantial similarities between the Iraq War and Health Care votes despite their unrelated subjects. Democrats are being to told to support the bill because it’s important to the party, rather then strictly on the merits of the bill. Both bills were presented as the only path forward, at times misleadingly. And strongest the corollary is that opposing the compromise bill is attacked as simplistic, while supporting the bill makes you a sell out.

The merits of the related arguments are substantially different in each case, but the debate is pretty similar. The case that voting down health care will hurt the Democratic party is much stronger then it was with the Iraq war. Democrats look terribly disorganized and ineffective and failing to pass a bill at this point would be harmful to their electorally chances. But that point runs both ways, passing the bill without a public option is also a serious problem for electoral success.

And there are alternative paths. They can start over and if they failed they would start over and they’d probably use budget reconciliation and need only 50 votes in the Senate. There are lots of problems with that path, but it’s a real option just like sanctions and containment were real options for Iraq.

Carrots and Sticks has come in contact with people on both sides of the push for this bill. They’re both smart and knowledge. Both sides need each other and at the same time need to challenge their respective legitimacy. The question is how do you keep the process constructive? It’s not easy, watch Al Franken on the Senate floor sometime, but that needs to be the goal.



1 comment so far

  1. Bronwyn on

    Good post, Chris.

    Something that’s often ignored in this ongoing battle between the “purists” and the “party loyalty” crew is the incredible patience of most of the “purists.”

    It took a mighty long time for Gov. Dean, DFA, and the PCCC to come out against the Democrats’ bill. And, to judge from what I’ve read on the liberal blogs, there was actually a great deal of patience from people who actually wanted single-payer, or held that as an ideal, and yet were willing to compromise, over and over.

    Although it’s clear what side of this debate I’m on, I think it’s important for everyone on all sides to see each other clearly–and so I’m just putting out there the notion that many of the “purists” have actually been quite pragmatic in their willingness to compromise not only on giving up single-payer, but on tying rates to Medicare rates, and on the issue of an opt-out option for individual states.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: