Critical Condition

Is Something Better Than Nothing?

Michael Tomasky has an entry in today’s Guardian arguing that the Democratic moderates who are raising concerns about their party’s health-care bills are worse off if the current health-care proposals go down. The argument is that a blow to the incumbent party is worse for vulnerable moderates than if one of the bills passes. Leave aside his gratuitous insults — he calls Senator Lieberman, whom I know and like, “a self-righteous jerk” — the problem with the piece is that he conflates any health-care legislation passing with the right kind of reform passing. The moderates are right to object to an overreaching, high-taxing bill with a government-run option for both political and policy reasons. Voting for any health-care bill just to give the president a win is too much to ask of them. Furthermore, it’s not clear that the Democrats’ approach, which Tomasky notes has brought Obama’s approval of handling health care under 50 percent, would be a long-term win for the Democrats once it went into effect and Americans needed to live with the resulting system.