The Corner

For the Annals of Good Government

In today’s New York Times, we learn that the Reid “compromise” on health care, which Democrats hope they might be able to bring to a vote in a matter of days and swiftly enact to transform one-sixth of the U.S. economy, is so secret that even the Senate’s number two Democrat has not been told the details:

Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, said Friday that he did not know details of the proposal put together by Mr. Reid in an effort to break an impasse over the legislation.

Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, said Republicans were exasperated because they did not know any details of Mr. Reid’s proposal, which could affect one-sixth of the economy.

Responding to Mr. McCain on the Senate floor, Mr. Durbin said, “I would say to the senator from Arizona that I am in the dark almost as much as he is, and I am in the leadership.”

“Most of us know the fundamentals, but we don’t know the important details,” Mr. Durbin added. He said the secrecy was frustrating to Democrats as well as to Republicans.

But it’s no wonder the Democrats are having such a hard time — as we learn from Chuck Schumer in the same article, nothing in American history has ever been this difficult:

Mr. Schumer said: “We’re struggling to come together on the most difficult issue America has ever faced, and we’re really getting close to the finish line. We’ve had our disagreements, but it has not been poisonous in any way.”

As long as they manage the process responsibly and keep things in perspective, they can’t fail, right?

Yuval Levin is the director of social, cultural, and constitutional studies at the American Enterprise Institute and the editor of National Affairs.

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