February 18, 2010

THE EXCUSE, NOT THE CAUSE:

Why the Democrats Are Losing (E.J. Dionne, 2/17/10, TruthDig)

Pause to consider where we would be if a Democrat had won January’s Massachusetts Senate race. In all likelihood, health reform would be law, Democrats could have moved on to economic matters, and Obama would be seen as shrewd and successful. [...]

On health care, months of delay in a futile quest for Republican support got the Democrats the worst of all worlds. The media gave them no credit for reaching out to the other side but did blame them for an ugly, gridlocked process.

The demands of moderate Democrats for concessions—remember the politically lethal Nebraska payoff for Sen. Ben Nelson?—made the process look even seamier. The bill’s conservative opponents shrewdly focused on such side issues and on made-up issues like the “death panels.”

Nobody wants to admit that on health care the moderates won all the big fights. Single-payer was out at the start. The public option died. A Medicare buy-in died. The number of Americans who would be covered shrank. The insurance companies held on to their antitrust exemption. If a bill eventually becomes law—as it must if the Democrats are not to look like a feckless, useless lot—the final proposal will be much closer to the moderate Senate version than to the more progressive bill passed by the House.


Just because it was predictable that Democrats would argue that but-for the Coakley loss they'd have passed health care doesn't make it any less amusing. The reality, of course, is that it was already on life-support and awaiting the coup-de-grace. Mr. Dionne accidentally concedes as much when he refers to the Nelson deal as "lethal."

Posted by Orrin Judd at February 18, 2010 7:27 AM
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