Sure, It's A Misnomer If You Want It To Be

Jillian Bandes
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Posted: Aug 19, 2009 7:36 AM
Kev: you need not get your knickers in a bunch by thinking I've  joined the likes of Reihan Salam (snort!) in the health care debate. If you took nothing from my previous post, it should've been an understanding of my disgust with Kent Conrad co-ops; nearly half of what I'd written detailed exactly why I thought it was a terrible idea. Copping grafs from Lewis McCrary and John Hood and rattling off names like Cato and Heritage is authoritative-sounding and all, but also has the duel effect of making you fall victim to the very thing you're so adamant about calling out: reactionary GOP mouthbreathing. You lean on these authorities to say that co-ops in their current iteration are too pricey and big-brotherish. Was that not the main point of my remarks?

You say:
While it's possible that encouraging the establishment of health care co-ops might be a good idea in general, the Conrad plan (and any plan that likely comes out of Congress) is going to be a government-controlled enterprise full of unnecessary mandates and rent-seeking.
From my original post:
If the government gets involved in co-ops like the Senate Finance Committee seems like it wants to, Uncle Sam would have a big say in what goes on in these programs and co-ops would probably be just as much of a boondoggle as a public option.
You say:
These government-chartered co-op plans aren't what we conjure up in our minds when someone mentions the word 'co-op.'
From my original post:
It's difficult to imagine...crucial reforms making their way into legislation at the same time such a huge co-op system would be hashed out.
Where I think our real differences lie -- an area you really fail to place enough emphasis upon -- is how we get things done given the current political realities. You think we shouldn't be under any illusion "that we're going to get health reform in the direction that we think is important while the Dems control the White House and Congress." Pardon, but I don't recall Republicans doing much in terms of health care reform in their eight years of power. I don't really recall them talking about health care at all, actually.

That's what I think should be at the crux of this debate: what do we want to happen? I wrote several grafs and listed several bullet points as to what I thought was important; you copied and pasted paragraphs from other sources talking about what wouldn't work. Conservative media outlets latched on to the poll that was released yesterday saying that fifty-four percent of Americans don't want Obamacare to pass as it currently stands. But they didn't latch on to a poll released last month that showed nearly seventy percent of Americans want some kind of health reform to pass, and most would prefer that something major passed. I happen to be one of those Americans, and I think it's both politically expedient and generally pragmatic to try and cook up reform that appeases us.

So lets work with what we've got. Right now, that's a crummy Democratic health care reform plan that seems like it's on its way out, an effective GOP base that's responsible for shutting it down, a number of GOP politicos who have respectable solutions but not a lot of ooomph to make it happen, a depressingly powerful majority of Dems in all three branches of government, and mild push toward this ambiguous thing called a co-op.

Let's do whatever we can to encourage the GOP base to be something more than a flash-mob of opposition by reiterating points like "Reform by NEXT summer" every time we say "Obamacare is a bummer."  I'll be the first to admit it will take Framers-like restraint to do something that doesn't give the government more power and doesn't break the bank. But lets at least try, right? Let's do everything we can to make the Democrats listen to our solutions and to make Obama sound like an idiot when he tries to rush things too fast. Let's turn the White House health care blog into a laughingstock by exposing it for the PR machine it really is, rather than the "reality-check" (really!) that it claims to be. Let's be the ones to offer solutions, and advocate for them, with a degree of sophistication that Obamamaniacs could never muster. That gives us at least a half-baked chance at reform that's halfway respectable -- even in the form of a workable co-op -- even under Obama's watch.