Friday, December 4, 2009

On beltway public option squishiness

If, like me, you think Ezra Klein has gone a bit squishy on healthcare reform (particularly the public option) since his ascension to the WaPo you owe it to Ezra to read his post today on the topic,

I'm a policy guy, arguably to the point of myopia. The public option compromises that are on the table at this point aren't really compromises worth having. It's my job to say that, I think. Pointing this out has led a lot of longtime readers to give up on me as some sort of establishment dupe, and I see where they're coming from. Here's where I'm coming from.

It might have been a necessary thing from an activism point of view, but convincing liberals that this bill was worthless in the absence of the public option was a terrible decision, wrong on the merits and unfair to the base. The achievement of this bill is $900 billion to help people purchase health-care coverage, a new market that begins to equalize the conditions of the unemployed and the employed, and a regulatory structure in which this country can build, for the first time, a universal health-care system. Thousands and thousands of lives will be saved by this bill. Bankruptcies will be averted. Rescission letters won't be sent. Parents won't have to fret because they can't take their child, or themselves, to the emergency room. This bill will, without doubt, do more good than any single piece of legislation passed during my (admittedly brief) lifetime. If it passes, the party that fought for it for decades deserves to feel a sense of accomplishment.

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