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Health Care’s Ahmadinejads

March 1, 2010

So apparently the Republicans won the health-care “summit”.  That’s according to the refreshingly surprised voices on the right, that is—most of the liberals would never admit that.  The Republicans aired out a bunch of proposals that were not being looked a’tall beforehand, and the Democrats pulled out a bunch of personal stories about people who had been screwed over by the insurance industry. For all the talk about bipartisanship and compromise, the Dems failed to realize this one central truth:

They fail to see (or to acknowledge) that while some similar mechanisms may be proposed by wonks on both sides, Republicans and Democrats in fact want to move in nearly opposite directions from our current health-care arrangements: Republicans toward a genuine individual market and Democrats toward a greater socialization of costs. That makes a great deal of what Obama and the Democrats said this morning basically meaningless.

And what the Democrats had been banking on for the last year was that the Republicans had no ideas and were obstructing for absolutely no reason.  While the latter fallacy can be attributed to the neglecting seen above, the former was shown to be demonstrably false last week.  I think Jay Nordlinger is spot on here:

Let me try something out on you: This health-care summit was a bad idea for the Democrats for this reason: They have long benefited from a perception — a perception greatly abetted by the media: The Republicans don’t care about health care, they don’t know about health care, they are the Party of No. All the ideas and caring are on the Democratic side.

It is not so, and it has never been so. And now everybody knows it.

There will still be the deniers, of course (see Paul Krugman).  But, by and large, they don’t really get to say that anymore.  And that will only serve to make this bill more unpopular.  Of course, the Dems could just pass this bill if not for that god-awful filibuster, that scourge of our founders’ creation.  That is, if they even wanted to:

The filibuster gives reluctant Democrats a perfect excuse for moving away from the president. “We’d love to be with you sir … but the GOP now has 41 seats, and we just can’t begin to figure out a way around that fact. So let’s drop the whole thing OK? Or postpone it until after our elections? Please??” They sound like lazy Boy Scouts inventing reasons to avoid the nature hike. “It’s cloudy – it might rain! No wait, the sun’s coming out and I forgot my sunscreen!”  If Senate Democrats really wished to adopt health-care reform, no way would they surrender so easily.

Indeed.  Which makes them look a whole lot more yellow-bellied than many on the Right would have thought.

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