In Which I Disagree With Nate Silver
Over at FiveThirtyEight.com, Nate Silver says Obama and the Democrats are failing with their push for health care reform. I don’t disagree with his argument that the messaging could have been better and more united, but we part ways when he says:
The one thing that might have sent things down a different course is if President Obama had tried to preempt the negotiations by taking a more hands-on approach and placing a particular bill before the Congress. I had thought this was a good idea, although the Beltway conventional wisdom would disagree, and there would certainly be risks to the White House in trying to loop the Congress out of the process.
I’m sure Nate knows this, but placing a bill with a lot of specifics in front of Congress was what killed the Clinton’s attempt to reform health care in the early 90’s. Yes, that plan was written without a lot of input from legislators and so they had no vested interest in what was delivered to them, but still.
Obama came at the problem from the other direction and while there isn’t a codified listing of what exactly Obama wants, we have a pretty good idea of what he’s willing to support:
- A public option (or, as an alternative, some sort of national co-op)
- A health care exchange
- Independent oversight of Medicare expenses (MedPAC)
Is that somewhat vague? Sure, but it’s not nothing and so Obama basically he decided to set down the guidelines and let Congress figure out how to get there (which, is actually what’s supposed to happen). We know that discussions on all of these things are ongoing, so people who freak out about the most recent version of a bill coming out of Max Bacaus’ committee need to chill for a second. There are multiple, competing bill floating around in both the House and Senate that will need to be reconciled, plus there’s about to be a month of intense lobbying, both for (and against) the reform packages.
The point is, there are several acts left in this play. We’re merely heading into intermission