The Corner

Harkin Joins Schumer: Maybe We Shouldn’t Have Done Obamacare

Outgoing senator Tom Harkin (D., Iowa) joined the chorus of Democratic lawmakers expressing some regret about the passage of Obamacare in 2010 — because he believes Democrats passed up an opportunity to pass a single-payer system and settled for “complex, convoluted” Obamacare.

“We had the votes to do [a fully public plan] and we blew it,” he told the Hill in a recent interview.

He cited concerns raised by more centrist, moderate Democrats — such as former senators Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas and Ben Nelson of Nebraska — as the reason for what ultimately passed. But a public-option plan or single-payer system could have made it out of Congress had Democrats capitalized on President Obama’s popularity after his 2008 election and moved to pass the bill in his first months in office rather than waiting over a year, Harkin said.

“We had the power to do it in a way that would have simplified health care, made it more efficient, and made it less costly, and we didn’t do it,” he said. “So I look back and say we should have either done it the correct way or not done anything at all.”

Last week, New York senator Chuck Schumer, the body’s third-ranking Democrat, raised questions about the timing and political wisdom of passing the controversial bill rather than focusing on the economy.

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