The seemingly endless noise over what passes as a health care debate gets more bizarre by the day. (Yet there are still people who want to drag it on longer.) Yesterday, the self-described "Tea Party Patriots" came back to D.C. to rant again about "government take-over" of the health care system. At the same time, prominent liberals went apoplectic about the Senate bill, with former governor and DNC chair Howard Dean leading the charge.
I'm confused. If the Senate bill is a government-taker over of health care, as the Tea Party crowd says, and liberals like Dean are opposed to the Senate bill, doesn't this mean that liberals are against a government-take-over of health care?
Of course, I am being facetious. In my view, the House and Senate bills were never about a government take-over of health care, as much as many liberals have hoped and many conservatives have feared.
Both bills give private insurance companies the central role in providing health coverage. The so-called more "liberal" House bill has a public option, but it would be available only to the 30 million or so Americans who lack private coverage, and of those, the Congressional Budget Office says that only about 6 million would end up the public plan, compared to 168 million in private health insurance offered by their employers. The public option, was never going to be big enough program to have all that much of an impact on coverage, despite the over-heated rhetoric by ideologues on both sides.
Yes, both bills will expand the federal government's role by regulating and subsidizing private insurance and enrolling tens of millions of more people in Medicaid, but private insurers were always going to be the way most Americans would get their coverage, just as they are today. Conservatives can and should make the case that there is too much regulation, and liberals can and should make the case that it has too little regulation, but they should both at least stick to the facts about what the bills will and will not do.
Many liberals see things quite differently than Howard Dean. Read this from the New America Foundation, a progressive think tank, and 20 questions for the left's "Kill the Bill" crowd by Nate Silver, founder of the 538.com web site.
Columnist Ruth Marcus, writing in today's Washington Post, says it best "The bill isn't perfect, although my worries about it are more about whether it does enough to drive down costs and whether it will turn out to be affordable than about whether it gives too much to insurers. The alternative is not, as Dean would have it, starting from scratch and getting it through the Senate with 51 votes; Senate rules, for better or worse, will not let lawmakers get much done that way. The alternative is squandering this opportunity -- leaving millions of Americans uninsured and without the prospect of getting coverage far into the political future."
Today's question: What do you think about the attacks from the liberal "Kill the Bill" crowd?