Sunday, November 8, 2009

Health Care in the House

Score one for the pope, who got his way on abortion (no way, no how, unless he says it’s OK) but, even with this additional blemish on its face, the Pelosiites did get their milquetoast health reform bill through – by a hair. One and a half cheers for that, and two cheers if they learn something from the experience – if they figure out, at last, what their pandering, and Obama’s, to Republicans and Blue Dogs was worth. Don’t count on it, though; in all likelihood, one and a half cheers is all the outcome of months of Sturm und Drang will ever deserve.

We’ll never know whether it would have been worse had the Party of Pusillanimity gone for something worthy of three full cheers. I think not, if only because it would then have been possible to make a clear moral argument, the one that has been the consensus in all developed countries for decades; that health care ought to be a right, not a commodity. And since the Blue Dogs and the others purport to be deficit hawks, even as they eagerly vote to finance Bush’s and now Obama’s perpetual wars, it would have also been possible to make a sound economic argument about drastically reducing health-care costs while providing care to all without diminishing the quality of care people receive (indeed, improving it for all but the most fortunate under the old, profit-driven regime).

Of course, the liberals will say that had Obama and the Pelosiites gone for the obvious solution, the health care profiteers and their media flacks would have played even dirtier, and the political culture would have been even more debased. Maybe, but it’s hard to see how.

Still, even a not very “robust” public option, combined with sensible insurance reforms, is better than nothing, and far better than the ludicrous Republican proposal that emerged in the “debate’s” final days. Therefore last night’s much touted “victory” was indeed a victory of sorts. One and a half cheers for it, and more if the experience deflates bipartisan fetishism in Democratic ranks and sparks competition in the up-coming primary season. For there is no doubt about it (except in the minds of Democratic leaders): the Blue Dogs have to go.

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