A Critical Test for Health Care Reform
03-23-2010
I listened to the closing arguments on health care reform from both parties on Sunday night. As Speaker Nancy Pelosi referred to the bill as a great act of patriotism, and Minority Leader John Boehner concluded it would lead us to Armageddon, I was hit with the same basic question that has dogged me throughout this entire debate: They both can’t be right. The passage of health care reform legislation can’t be both a complete disaster and a signal success for the American people, but those are the two competing scenarios that have been depicted by the parties all along, and each side claims to have the polling data to support their argument.
 
It is true that some of this is likely good old-fashioned political posturing, as a means of mobilizing grassroots support on both sides. But, as any statistician knows, you can use empirical data to conduct a critical test, in order to determine the validity of competing hypotheses. The upcoming midterm elections may be the closest we have come in years to a critical test of competing political ideologies and theories of voter behavior. Will voters take their anger at greater federal government involvement in health care out on Democrats and echo Republican calls for repeal of the legislation, or will they reward Democrats for making the system more responsive, once they grow more comfortable with reform?
 
I hope we get that critical test, and my question is finally answered. But the reality may end up being more ambiguous – somewhere in the middle where you are likely to find much of the American public – hope, anxiety, let’s see how this goes.


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