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Re: The Health Care No’s

Watching the same trends I remarked upon yesterday, James Capretta thinks Democratic health-care-reform advocates are sailing into “seriously choppy political waters.” Part of this is to be expected, he explains:

The Obama White House and their congressional allies have built expectations among their core supporters that this is the year to pass a government-takeover of American health care. With expectations set so high, most elected Democrats have concluded they have no choice but to set out on a forced march to try to do exactly that — despite unified Republican opposition. But a partisan bill means that Democrats own all of the messy and unattractive details too. The debate is no longer about vague concepts of “coverage” and “cost-control” but who pays and who is forced out of their job-based plans.

So the answer? Why naturally, “shorten the time between a full public airing and a vote.” But even if they do so, they still have to come up with a plan, a complete bill setting forth a funding mechanism, a price tag, and a specified role for government in regulating or directly providing insurance. Given what we know about the outlines of the Kennedy-Dodd plan, we are looking at spending $1.5 trillion and still leaving “15 to 20 million uninsured Americans.”

If the Obama-Reid-Pelosi team is bent on following the directives of their liberal base to effect a government takeover of health care, there will be precious few Republican votes to support such an agenda. As Capretta notes, “Party activists pushed Congressional Democrats over the July 4th recess to write a bill reflecting long-standing party goals — which means government-run insurance and near-total government control. This push has made the chances for bipartisan compromise — already remote — even less likely.”

And so all eyes will be on those moderate and conservative Democrats: do they vote to nationalize health care on a party-line vote? Do they have the nerve to spend $1.5 trillion or so and raise the taxes to pay for it as unemployment goes to double digits and the economy continues its downward spiral? Stay tuned.



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