Thursday, September 3, 2009

Brooks on Health Care Reform

David Brooks responds to Gail Collins's questions on the unraveling of the health care reform bill. I really do enjoy "The Conversation." I think that Collins and Brooks balance each other out very well.

Anyway, I think Brooks makes some excellent points. He writes:

Most Republicans say the Democratic bills are radical and socialist. My problem with them is they are modest and timid. The Democrats say the current health care system is dysfunctional, then they preserve and extend it. They don’t touch the fee-for-service system. They don’t touch the employer-based system. They don’t alter the runaway costs.

. . .

The problem is that incremental reform doesn’t work. We have to go back and redo the system. My big takeway from this whole mess is that incremental reform doesn’t work. We have to go back and redo the system. I’ve said it before and I’ve said it again, the Wyden-Bennett approach is the way to go. It has bipartisan support. It is consistent with traditional American values, emphasizing individual choice, not top down control. It reins in costs in the only way acceptable to American voters, through competition not executive fiat. It would liberate us from the employer-based system that is dying anyway.

. . .

Two other random points. First, the political gridlock right now has nothing to do with Republicans. Democratic moderates are now firmly against the public option and I suspect generally against the Obama approach, because it will cost so many of them their jobs. The House is gridlocked, and it is under total Democratic control. The Senate is too, and would be even if Ted Kennedy’s seat were filled tomorrow.

Second, it should be said that most of the special interests are wildly in favor of the Democratic approach. The lobbyists are spending far more to support it than to defeat it. Big pharmaceuticals spend more money on TV ads than John McCain spent in his fall campaign. And despite this avalanche of money the public is still leaning against reform, at least as currently envisioned by the White House and the Congressional leadership. The public isn’t always right, but the majority views are at least worth taking seriously. Especially if you want to win elections.

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