Thursday, March 18, 2010

Get it done

Healthcare reform will take giant stride this weekend when the House of Representatives formally moves it forward. Hopefully Rep. Tom Perriello (VA-05) will show the courage of his convictions and support the bill. I expect he will, although he is certainly facing lots of hateful lies and distortions being spread like manure on the fields in spring.
Republicans will scream and holler that the bill isn't bipartisan. Well, no it isn't... mostly because Republicans won't support much of anything on President Obama's agenda. They long ago made the political decision to oppose him on every turn - not because it was good policy, but according to their calculations, it was good politics. Their calls to delay or restart the debate are transparent.
There is misleading rhetoric being fired from the left too. Some claim that if various leaders had been stronger advocates that the public option would still be in the bill. But, that is at best a pipe dream... too many moderate Democrats either weren't for it or were worried about their seats. Make no mistake, the public option is probably necessary for real reform and real cost savings to occur. Medicare for all. But, current political realities make the public option untenable and the speaker and president don't want to spend political capital of their Democratic allies on a poison pill. Sometimes change in America has to come one step at a time.
While many in the public don't know the details of the reform bill (blame the president and Democrats for not doing a better job of explaining things in simple terms) it is pretty clear most Americans are either for it or against it. Not many undecideds out there. But today's report from the Congressional Budget Office that healthcare reform will actually cut the federal debt should nudge some Americans and just enough congressmen to win the bill's passage. Didn't hear about the CBO report? How does a $138 billion reduction of the deficit over the next ten years sound?
Sure, healthcare reform may become a hot issue in the 2010 elections, but by then the deal will be done. Once off the front page, issues of jobs and the economy will take center stage and healthcare reform will be a bit of an afterthought. Even if the issue remains hot, Democrats should have great opportunities selling reform as deficit reduction package and as helping small businesses to create jobs. The GOP will also be talking jobs, but without much of a program to produce any.
The politics of healthcare reform is changing before our eyes - President Obama is winning the public opinion war, the nonpartisan CBO acknowledges the budgetary benefits, the GOP can't quite shed the "party of No" label, and the tea party wingdings are running short of steam. Healthcare reform will pass. As the programs go into effect there will be adjustments. Medicare for all will happen - but, maybe not before I'm on Medicare the old fashioned way.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

you're wrong about the tea party. they have plenty of steam--scalding racism.