Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Policy-making doesn't begin or end with Obama

Yesterday, President Obama met with the Senate Democrats and told them that it was crucial for them to pass health care RIGHT NOW because they would never get this chance again. If Obama fails with this, no other president would undertake it.
Ahead of the meeting, the White House said Obama would warn Senate Democrats in the White House meeting Tuesday that this is the "last chance" to pass comprehensive reform.

White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer told POLITICO: "If President Obama doesn't pass health reform, it’s hard to imagine another president ever taking on this Herculean task. For those whose life's work is reforming health care, this may be the last train leaving the station."

Previewing the message, Vice President Joe Biden said on MSNBC's "Morning Joe": "If health care does not pass in this Congress ... it's going to be kicked back for a generation."
This is baloney. It's part of Obama's hubris that he is The One sent to lower the oceans and heal the sick. And it is part of the liberal myopia that they are the only ones who can make policy that will help the unfortunate.

This is the constant strawman that Obama has inserted into his speeches to pretend that the only possibility is passing his preferred policies or doing nothing. Actually, conservatives are brimming with ideas to address health care. These ideas aren't the preferred liberal choice of putting the government in charge and on the hook for health care, but they are solid ideas that are just not being heard because the Republicans are in the minority. Paul Ryan is a GOP leader in the House with a multi-faceted approach to health care. But because his ideas would use market-based solutions, the liberals ignore them.

If the massive bill being crafted behind closed doors fails, there will be space for a truly bipartisan bill to be crafted with some of the best ideas from both sides. It wouldn't be a bill that would make Howard Dean happy, but it could be a bill that came from the middle rather than being crammed down on a totally unipartisan basis.

So it is safe to ignore Obama's grandiose self-referential rhetoric. If this bill fails, it would certainly be possible to craft a new sort of bill that would gain bipartisan support. Unfortunately, that is a path that Obama, Pelosi, and Reid never thought of taking.