Carol Platt Liebau
In today's Washington Post, GOP Rep. Paul Ryan lays out a vision for health care reform that would address many of the system's most pressing problems without initiating an eventual government takeover, a la ObamaCare.

Near the piece's conclusion, Ryan points out accurately:

Yet this [legislative health care reform] process -- including its embarrassing conclusion -- demonstrates that the debate has never been about health-care policy but, instead, paternalistic ideology.

He's partly right -- but it's also about much more, especially Democrats' efforts to lock in a permanent, long-term political advantage for themselves.  Note David Axelrod's highly revealing comments yesterday:

So [once ObamaCare has passed], if the Republican party wants to go out and say to that child, who now has insurance or say to that small business that will get tax credits this year if [President Obama] signs the bill to help their employees get health care, if [Republicans] want to say to them, 'You know what, we're actually going to take that away from you, we don't think that's such a good idea' -- I say let's have that fight. 

Axelrod's arguing that, as soon as the bill passes, Democrats can just frame every issue with their traditional trope: The evil Republicans want to take something away from you.  In fairness to them, one can see how appealing the political vision might be to many Democrats; it's a simple way to try to maintain long-term dominance.  After all, the demagoguing has pretty well worked with every Big Government program except welfare, hasn't it?

But before Democrats get too giddy about Axelrod's argument, they might want to check out Hugh Hewitt's analysis: If they pass this monstrosity, every problem with it, every bit of unhappiness with it will be attributed to Democrats for years to come.  And rightly so.

Carol Platt Liebau

Carol Platt Liebau is an attorney, political commentator and guest radio talk show host based near New York. Learn more about her new book, "Prude: How the Sex-Obsessed Culture Hurts Young Women (and America, Too!)" here.