Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Whose Victory Is It, Again?

While he's correct that passing a flawed healthcare reform bill is better than failing to act, Michael Tomasky opines,
No matter how frustrated or angry you are about what's not in this bill, is the proper response to that really to strike a posture that amounts to giving Republicans, who will never do anything to promote or even gesture toward universal healthcare when they have power, their biggest political win on Capitol Hill in at least six or seven and arguably in 15 years? That's just silly.
The Republican Party has been actively fighting universal healthcare for... what is it now... fifty years? Under the concept that if it passes it will prove popular, and will result in their becoming more like Britain's Conservative Party - able to attack Social Security and publicly funded healthcare at the margins, but largely stuck with a popular government-run system that they can neither destroy or defund. Hence we had David Frum fretting,
Instead of a healthcare reform to slow cost increases, Democrats in the Senate seem to be converging upon an expansion of Medicare to include age 55-64 year-olds and an expansion in Medicaid up to some higher multiple of the poverty limit. You might wonder why they didn’t do this before: expanding existing programs is always easier than creating new ones. So now instead of a new system that attempts to control costs, we’re just going to have a bigger and more expensive version of the old system, with a few tinkers around the edges. Republicans could have been architects of improvement, instead we made ourselves impotent spectators as things get radically worse. Plus – the bad new Democratic proposal will likely be less unpopular with voters than their more promising earlier proposal. Nice work everybody.
Medicaid is mentioned, but Frum's concern was about a popular, successful expansion of Medicare - something he apparently saw as worse than even a public plan. And while digging that up, what did I find? Frum's celebration of Joe Lieberman as the man who saved the Republican Party:
[The reform bill is] not good, but it’s not what we were threatened with two days ago. Thank you Joe Lieberman.
Whatever good comes to the Democratic Party from healthcare reform, the legislative victory was a Republican victory and, in a single flip-flop, it was delivered by Sen. Joseph Isadore Lieberman.

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