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A New Schtick!

March 8, 2010

Care for a little “we are foreigners in each others’ eyes” twaddle?  Yglesias forgets himself:

There’s an excellent point about all this conservative concern-trolling on health reform lurking in Steve Benen’s post on the subject. If Mitch McConnell & co were really so sure that passing health reform would be a political loser for Democrats and that organizing around repeal will be a big winner, then wouldn’t they be making it easier to pass the damn bill?

It’s not that if McConnell believed what he said he’d be voting for the bill. But if your opponents are determined to inflict a wound on themselves, why not just let them, in a procedural sense? Why not stop the bitching and moaning about reconciliation? Why not stop talking about gambits to stick the reconciliation process up?

Good question.  Here’s Mark Steyn, in a piece that Ezra Klein himself quoted this very day:

Republicans are good at keeping the seat warm. A bigtime GOP consultant was on TV crowing that Republicans wanted the Dems to pass Obamacare because it’s so unpopular it will guarantee a GOP sweep in November. Okay, then what? You’ll roll it back — like you’ve rolled back all those other unsustainable entitlements premised on cobwebbed actuarial tables from 80 years ago? Like you’ve undone the federal Department of Education and of Energy and all the other nickel ’n’ dime novelties of even a universally reviled one-term loser like Jimmy Carter? Andrew McCarthy concluded a shrewd analysis of the political realities thus: “Health care is a loser for the Left only if the Right has the steel to undo it. The Left is banking on an absence of steel. Why is that a bad bet?”

Indeed. Look at it from the Dems’ point of view. You pass Obamacare. You lose the 2010 election, which gives the GOP co-ownership of an awkward couple of years. And you come back in 2012 to find your health-care apparatus is still in place, a fetid behemoth of toxic pustules oozing all over the basement, and, simply through the natural processes of government, already bigger and more expensive and more bureaucratic than it was when you passed it two years earlier. That’s a huge prize, and well worth a mid-term timeout.

That’s why.  Does that seem irrational?  Ezra thinks so too:

The Senate health-care reform bill — which maintains private insurers, private doctors, private hospitals, private medical device companies, private pharmaceutical manufacturers, private nurses, and doesn’t even have anything to say about the insurance that medium and large employers provide — doesn’t “annex” anything, and calling it centralized planning suggests that Steyn doesn’t know what the words “centralized” or “planning” mean. But this is what people on the right are reading. No wonder they’re scared.

Stephen Spruiell’s response:

Silly conservatives! The bill maintains private insurers — it just reconfigures their business model to something more closely resembling a federally regulated utility. It maintains private doctors and hospitals — in the sense that they would only be mostly paid by the government. It maintains private medical device companies — because somebody has to pay higher taxes to fund this monstrosity. What else? It makes Medicaid available to childless adults. It raises marginal tax rates, discouraging work and investment. It increases the cost of hiring new workers. It causes premiums to go up. (Sure, it makes up for this with subsidies, but that makes a mockery of claims that it “bends the cost curve down.”) Budget gimmickry to the contrary notwithstanding, it adds to long-term deficits while increasing the size of government. Most important, it is the first (or the latest, if you prefer) step down the road to single-payer.

What are we so worried about? Just ask us.

All of that after Ezra’s post about how “enormous” a leftward shift this bill would produce.  How little we understand each other as a nation.  This space should be titled “The Politics of Understanding Each Other On Important Issues and Dealing With Said Issues Rather Than Claiming to Solve Them”.  But that’s a little too long.  I’ll just create a new category instead.

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