Monday, March 22, 2010


Health care reform passes. There's a lot of obfuscation and a lot of posturing and a lot of mob mentality and groupthink about the politics of this decision, but here's David Frum, one rocksolid Republican with a lot of influence who calls it Waterloo... for the GOP.

He admits what we've all suspected and what has been maddening about the Democrats' approach, namely that the GOP decided at the very beginning to stonewall reform, to refuse any compromise, to "play for all marbles" as he put it. The GOP could have had a huge influence on this bill (they didn't as it is?), but because they opted for mere obstructionism, they failed and got nothing out of it.

There will be no repeal, even after the GOP gains in November. Frum writes:
Even if Republicans scored a 1994 style landslide in November, how many votes could we muster to re-open the “doughnut hole” and charge seniors more for prescription drugs? How many votes to re-allow insurers to rescind policies when they discover a pre-existing condition? How many votes to banish 25 year olds from their parents’ insurance coverage?

I'll take this a step further: this bill will never be repealed and the middle class will like it, and the failed attempt to preserve the infamous "doughnut hole" and insurance companies' right to cut you off at the critical moment will hang on the necks of the GOP like a millstone for a generation. The Democrats will be able to come back to those points again and again.

But, as I've been hitting on over and over in this debate, the politics of this don't matter as much because the policy is so important to the lives of all 300 million of us. This was the kind of thing you played all those politics for, the big play where a party and president leverage all that political capital to do all that world-changing they dreamed of doing when they first decided to enter politics. As Josh Marshall puts it, it's legislation like this that makes losing a majority worth it. Win or lose in November (or better put, lose or hold onto), the Democrats managed to pass the first major social policy legislation in 50 years.

Put another way: every majority ends eventually. The real difference is not how long they last, but which ones do something productive and which disappear with nothing to show for it. It's a lesson I'd like to see some of Bayh's agenda-less coalition (like my own mollusk of a congressman) reflect on.

This bill was thin gruel compared to the House bills of a year ago, but the regulations on the worst insurance company abuses alone are going to save lives. Plus, many, many families who would have been bankrupted by medical bills and the loss of health coverage will not be because of this bill. Furthermore, the execrable "doughnut hole" is now a footnote in history.

Let's remember what matters, people.

1 comment:

Rene said...

hear hear.

I think that was the article heard round the world, mostly because of how flat out honest it is.

It takes a lot of courage to be honest about things these days, and Kudos to Frum for spelling things out the way they really are.