Opposites Attract?
11-23-2009
I recently wrote that I am a big fan of the Sunday morning talk shows. Well, this past weekend I had to walk away from the television about two-thirds of the way through the morning. It wasn’t due to anything done by the hosts, but was instead the result of listening to groups of senators bicker over the pending health care legislation.
 
We have reached a point in the health care debate where both sides are dug into positions of ideological faith. With a bill of this size (2000+ pages), no one can possibly be sure of what the exact consequences of all the provisions will be. Now, that is not necessarily a reason to defeat the legislation. Laws can always be tweaked later on to move them closer to their original intent. Bill Clinton used precisely this argument when he was pushing unhappy Democratic colleagues to go along with welfare reform. So, I am not suggesting that this alone is sufficient reason to scuttle the entire enterprise, but the absolute certainty on both sides is maddening.
 
Yesterday morning, they were talking past each other in ways that suggest more than just the usual pre-bargain posturing. The typical exchange went something like this: The legislation will lower the cost of health care. No, it won’t. Yes, it will. No, it won’t. Yes, it will. And then: The legislation will reduce the deficit over a ten year period. No, it won’t. Yes, it will. No, it won’t. Yes, it will…and on and on and on. Even when the hosts read the exact language contained in various sections of the bill, the two sides offered diametrically opposed interpretations.
 
I heard that President Obama is bringing in former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle to secure votes. Daschle, who was almost Health and Human Services Secretary, says that his role is only an informal one. Given that he was originally designated Obama's point man on the issue, I’m not so sure.  In any event, he has his work cut out for him.


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