The clubhouse turn on healthcare reform.
Now that we're getting to the short strokes on a U.S. healthcare-reform vote, here's a round-up of recent analyses I've found of particular interest.
The New Republic's Jonathan Chait is dumbfounded that so many Beltway and D.C. media veterans find reconciliation dumbfounding:
How can anybody still not understand this? I'm at a loss here. Look, there's an endless list of topics I don't understand at all. I went through an entire semester of pre-Calculus in high school and was never able to understand what a function is. I still don't. It's a complicated subject and I was a lazy student. But this reconciliation distinction is easy, and Mike Allen is (legendarily) not lazy. So, what the hell is going on here?
Chait points out that while reconciliation is far from unprecedented, the degree of G.O.P. obstructionism in the Obama era most certainly is:
The way in which Senate Republicans are using the filibuster this session is completely unprecedented. They're using it at three times the next highest historical rate, requiring timely cloture motions on everything, even totally uncontroversial matters. It's a brilliant partisan tactic -- Republicans knew all along that the Democrats huge majority was going to disappear after the 2010 elections, so they resolved to run out the clock on this term by grinding everything, from appointments to the tiniest piece of legislation, to a crawl. There's no point in raising a moral hue and cry over this tactic. You either have to accept that the minority party will begin acting this way, or change the rules in the future. Now Democrats are proposing to change the rule next time. That's the proper response.
Slate's Timothy Noah points out the obvious - the healthcare reform proposal does not fund abortion:
A central puzzle of the health reform debate is why Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., keeps saying that the Senate-passed bill allows taxpayer dollars to be spent on abortions. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishopssays it, too. This dispute concerns (or at least pretends to concern) matters of fact, not belief. The question of whether the government funds a given medical procedure is not like the question of whether human life begins at conception. It's empirical, not ideological. And Stupak happens to be wrong.
But as New Republic's Jonathan Cohn points out, most employer-provided healthcare plans already do cover abortion:
Remember, the single largest tax subsidy in health care today is the tax break for employer-sponsored insurance. If you have insurance through your job, then you're getting government assistance just as surely as if Washington wrote you a check. And if your policy happens to cover abortion services--which about half of you do, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation's annual benefits survey--then the taxpayers are helping to subsidize it.
Newsweek's Daniel Gross exposes the canard that the reform is a "government takeover" of healthcare:
There have been lots of absurdities in the debate—such as it is—about health care reform. There's the hypocrisy of people dependent on government-run health care complaining about government-run health care. And now comes the Republican canard that the current health care reform proposal constitutes a government takeover of one-sixth of the economy. Here are Rep. Steve Buyer of Indiana, Rep. John Fleming of Louisiana, and Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina making precisely that argument.
Second, such statements reveal how pathetically little many of our policymakers and pundits understand American health care spending. We're already halfway toward socialized medicine, but not because of Obamacare. (Here's a column I wrote about this in December 2006.) Over the last couple of decades, as the private sector has done a miserable job controlling costs, as employers have felt less and less compelled to offer health care benefits as a condition of employment, as the population has aged, and as the government created new health care entitlements, the government has been slowly assuming a higher portion of health care spending in the United States—or "taking it over."
Jill Lawrence in Politics Daily on 10 reasons not to oppose Obamacare:
9. It isn't popular. Did voters in Virginia, New Jersey and Massachusetts send clear messages -- by electing Republicans -- that they don't want this health package? Inconclusive at best. The economy is almost always the primary factor in election outcomes. Beyond that, Democrats had exceptionally weak candidates in all three states. The latest national poll from Gallup found slightly more people saying they'd advise their representative to vote against rather than for health reform. In a new poll from The Economist, 53 percent said they support Obama's proposed changes to the health care system. It's fair to say the country is split. In any case, Obama and Congress are not bound by polls.
True enough. As the sharper pundits repeatedly point out, the muddied debate on healthcare has indeed eroded support for change. But when you do a "deep dive" on the questions in each poll, you still find considerable support - often majority support - for the particulars of the reform proposal.
What this should say to Dems worried about the midterms is that if the reforms are enacted in the next few weeks, that's seven months for Americans to come to appreciate the new protections that reform guarantees.