Thursday, January 21, 2010

Health care

Kudos to Mona Charen in this article for a nice turn of phrase: she describes the health care bill as "oozing" its way through Congress. Will Brown's election stop the ooze? And how should Democrats react? If I were a Democrat, I might well be in favour of pushing the bill at all costs. This is based partly on my depressing assessment that major legislation almost never gets repealed, and usually, to the contrary, expand over time. It might mean a beating for the Democrats in November, but it would be a major advance for them in the long run.

Nancy Pelosi ("We will have health care one way or another") seems to be in favour of ramming the bill through, and I can't disagree with her logic. I do disagree, however, with these academics, who somehow conclude that "If there is a lesson in the Massachusetts vote, it is this: pass a bill." I understand what they are saying: a lot of Democrats are upset at the compromises that have been made on the bill, and that may have kept some of them away from voting. And I'm sure they're right that Scott Brown did campaign a lot on other issues. Nevertheless, it is not only implausible, but downright silly, to think that a liberal state like Massachussetts would vote for a Republican if the majority of liberals there wanted a health-care bill. That's not the way people work.

Democrats still control large majorities in both houses, so they have a reasonable chance of getting a bill through. There has been much talk of pushing the vote through before Brown is seated, or using other dubious tactics to ram something through. I am glad to report that Barney Frank -- whom I dispise in many ways -- has come out on the side of honesty, saying, "I feel strongly that the Democratic majority in Congress must respect the process and make no effort to bypass the electoral results."

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