Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Un-Conventional Healthcare Wisdom

Healthcare blogger Keith Hennessey lists the top 10 fallacies in the conventional wisdom about reform; here's numbers 8 and 9:
CW #8. Senators Grassley and Enzi blew up bipartisan talks among the Gang of Six and walked away from negotiations.

Democratic Senators Baucus, Conrad, and Bingaman, and Republican Senators Grassley, Enzi, and Snowe have worked for months to try to build the core of a bipartisan consensus. They have been unable to do so for three reasons:
1. The substance is difficult.

2. Each side is being pulled back by Members of their own party.

3. The President persistently undercut Chairman Baucus by denying him the ability to negotiate a final deal with Republicans.
Senators Grassley and Enzi are not fire-breathers. They are seasoned legislators who know how to cut a deal. They are also experienced enough to know they should not negotiate a deal with Chairman Baucus, only to have that deal reopened by the House and White House later in the legislative process. They want to negotiate once, not two or three times. That is reasonable and savvy.

The President and his team have known for months how to get a bipartisan deal: negotiate directly with Grassley and Enzi, or authorize Baucus to do so on their behalf. They were unwilling to do so, and are now feebly attempting to shift blame to these Republicans as they embark on a partisan legislative path.

CW #9. This policy debate is shallow and poorly-informed.

Yes, there is a lot of confusion and misinformation out there. Yes, many of the email chains are inflammatory and exaggerated (but not fishy). Yes, the press spends too many column inches and too much airtime on the political back-and-forth rather than the substance of the bills. Yes, too many people are shouting, and not enough are listening and debating. I concede that the debate is nowhere nearly as well-informed or thoughtful as it could be.

But so what? Millions of Americans are deeply involved in a discussion about a proposed fundamental change to how America works. And somehow, the real issues are seeping through the din. Even people getting distorted information from misleading emails are being subjected to a battle of ideas. Yes, those who listen only to one side of the debate will get a limited perspective. But anyone who exerts even a little effort can learn a lot, and anyone who listens only to one side but then debates someone who disagrees will learn something from that argument.

I think millions of Americans understand that this is fundamentally a debate about who should decide how much health care you get and who should have to pay for that care. I think they understand the rough consequences of an expanded government role in private health insurance and health care delivery. I think millions of them are reacting at an instinctive policy level to bigger government -- higher taxes, bigger budget deficits, more government spending.
See also Marta Mossburg in the Washington Examiner and Peter Wehner at Commentary:
Obama’s health-care ambitions are being shattered because what he wants to do would make things worse rather than better, and costlier rather than cheaper. President Obama is attempting to sell a product that is fundamentally defective and increasingly radioactive. Even if Team Obama were doing everything right--and it is not--it would find itself in a precarious position. It is reality, including numerous CBO analyses, that is doing the damage. Public relations has very little to do with it.
(via The Corner, Maggie's Farm)

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