On Health Care Musings

I have the terrible feeling that President Obama has found a way to seize defeat from the jaws of victory as regards health care reform.

After a few weeks of members of his administration floating balloons in the media that the public option isn’t a requirement, Obama has asked the Congressional Progressive Caucus how far they’re willing to bend on the public option. For instance, the triggered public option might not even achieve anything; depending on how the trigger was written, the trigger might never be triggered, or it might make the health care problems worse.

What this feels to me is like a movement to pass a bill, not a good bill, just to check this off — Health reform, check — even if it doesn’t actually reform anything. What this also feels like is that Obama isn’t invested in the issue; I don’t see a willingness to spend his political capital to make it happen at a time when it might’ve made more of an impact.

I respect the Obama’s need for consensus and bipartisanship. But when Obama is triangulating against factions of his own party, while leaving his flank open on the right, I wonder if he’s going to end up with anything at all in terms of fixing the problems of health care. I fear that, despite the stars being in alignment for it, we’re going to end up with a repeat of the defeat of the Clinton health plan fifteen years ago.

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