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Health Care Reform: DemoCare?

posted by Scot McKnight

ObamaGrav.jpgI’ve gotten enough pushback on using “Obamacare” for the health care proposals that I’m changing this to the more cumbersome “health care reform,” but for me “Obamacare” is not about a top-down heavy-handed left-wing attempt to socialize our country, but instead simply the health care proposals that Obama is guiding as President. Having said that, Douthat’s new piece in the NYTimes makes a potent point about where the center of power lies in this debate:

“In reality, the health care wrestling match is less a test of Mr.
Obama’s political genius than it is a test of the Democratic Party’s
ability to govern….

If the Congressional Democrats can’t get a health care
package through, it won’t prove that President Obama is a sellout or an
incompetent. It will prove that Congress’s liberal leaders are lousy
tacticians, and that its centrist deal-makers are deal-makers first,
poll watchers second and loyal Democrats a distant third. And it will
prove that the Democratic Party is institutionally incapable of
delivering on its most significant promises.

You have to assume
that on some level Congress understands this — which is why you also
have to assume that some kind of legislation will eventually pass.

If it doesn’t, President Obama will have been defeated. But it’s the party, not the president, that will have failed.”



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kent

posted August 24, 2009 at 7:49 pm


I have followed the discussion with interest. I also freely confess that I am not a fan of the health care proposals, nor am I a fan of the President. But having said this I what disturbs me the most is the seeming inability that we have in our country even in a forum like this to have a nonreactive conversation about a controversial topic. You have explained yourself repeatedly and yet people assign you motives and attitudes that you clearly do not hold.
From what I understand, this points to the increasing level of anxiety we suffer from in this culture, which then leads to what Edwin Friedman would call an regression of maturity. So from my stand point use whatever term you want to. If others react, stay the course and listen and engage. You have repeatedly proved your graciousness and compassion. Raise the level of the conversation. If others cannot play within those bounds, that is their choice. But their reactivity cannot rule the day.



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stephen

posted August 24, 2009 at 8:42 pm


“…the Democratic Party is institutionally incapable of delivering on its most significant promises.”
As a resident of Illinois, this observation does not come as a surprise.



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MattR

posted August 24, 2009 at 9:02 pm


“the health care wrestling match is less a test of Mr. Obama’s political genius than it is a test of the Democratic Party’s ability to govern….”
This seems backwards… Pres. Obama & the Dems could pass a health care reform bill WITHOUT the Repubs., and maybe will eventually have too. But when the Pres is trying hard to get bi-partisanship, and most of the leaders in the Republican party seem intent on either 1. not passing anything, or 2. severely neutering any bill that might pass, it seems disengenous to then blame the Dems.
For sure, there are things that could have been different so far in this process, but if the Dems had just forged ahead and passed a bill quickly and efficiently, without any reaching out to the R side of the aisle, can you imagine the outcry!?
It seems that what it comes down to, is that some will just never accept a Dem. administration… The Pres. & congress will never do much right in the eyes of a few on the far right… so maybe they should just not worry and move on!



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Kyle

posted August 24, 2009 at 9:14 pm


That’s one of the big ironies here: As much the opponents of reform have asserted that the president is “ramming” the legislation through, it seems pretty clear to me he’s actually delegated too much of the work to Congress (overcompensating for “HillaryCare”), resulting in disjointed messaging and allowing conservative critics to frame the debate.
From both a policy and political standpoint, the president’s going to have to spend all his remaining political capital on passing the reform package, If he doesn’t, (1) it’ll be another 15+ years before someone tries again and (2) his ability to govern will have been fundamentally undermined.



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Jeremy White

posted August 24, 2009 at 9:42 pm


MattR (post #3) makes a valid point about Republicans being very citical regarding the Dems’ proposals. But maybe we shouldn’t be too quick to impugn the Reps with accuastions of being incooperative. If I remember right, President Bush’s supreme court appointments were attacked and stalled with far greater animosity than Obama’s first appointment. Yes, there were a some vocal critics of Sotomayor (sp?), but she was approved even with a fair amount of Conservative congressional support in far less time than either Roberts or Alito (not to mention the cold and venemous treatment of Justice Thomas years ago). The Dems haven’t exactly shown a collective spirit of cooperation in recent decades. I do not agree with the principle, but in politics often what goes around comes around.



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MattR

posted August 24, 2009 at 9:51 pm


Jeremy White (#5),
Agreed… politics are played on both sides… it just seems that in the last few years the logic is more and more twisted… one side gives a low blow and then blames the other for not taking a punch very well!
I for one, think the reform of health care in one of the wealthiest nations in the world deserves better.
If a bill is not passed, there will be plenty of blame to go around… but the R’s can’t complain, when stalling tactics and misinformation are accepted as OK by too many.



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Josh Mann

posted August 24, 2009 at 10:06 pm


I think the writer misses the point. Democrats come in various stripes and colors. Not all are so willing to ‘get it through.’ Just ‘get it through’ is not health care reform, nor is following the president’s outline of HCR.



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aly hawkins

posted August 24, 2009 at 10:57 pm


My husband and I were talking about this the other day. From where I stand, it looks a lot like the Dems are seeing the downside of pitching a big tent. The Repubs (it seems to me) have shrunken their “coalition” to a remnant of very conservative folks, most of whom agree with each other. The Dems, on the other hand, have expanded their coalition to include conservative-moderates who don’t identify with the right-right-wing of the Repub party ? but neither do they identify with the liberal wing of the Dems. It seems like a nasty case of Catch-22 for the governing party.



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John Lunt

posted August 25, 2009 at 4:49 am


Some kind of health care bill will probably go through, but it will be a shadow of what Obama wants. The democrats will claim victory, but the GOP will gain a lot of seats in 2010.



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Scott Morizot

posted August 25, 2009 at 6:00 am


Wasn’t it Will Rogers who said, “I don’t belong to an organized political party. I’m a Democrat.” ;)



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Chas

posted August 25, 2009 at 9:58 am


I agree with both suggestions. President Obama has taken the cult of the presidency to a new level, and congress is proving itself to be the mostly incompetent body that it is. Ironically, I really don’t blame either for this reality. I blame the American people for the high-flying, self serving, unconstitutional expectations that we have foisted upon these individuals. Ultimately, we the people are the problem.



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methodistsearching

posted August 25, 2009 at 12:55 pm


Yes! Finally an observation that acknowledges Obama’s focus on what the President should do and makes a point about what Congress should do.
I support the president in his goals, but am disappointed at Congress, particularly the Democratic leadership. Of course the minority Republicans are shouting everything down. Are the Dem’s suprised?
In the 1960′s. landmark Civil Rights legislation was passed by a Democratic-controlled congress through engaging the opposition and working out a solution. And, much of the opposition was from Democrats themselves!
The party in power has a responsibility to get this done.



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Doug Allen

posted August 25, 2009 at 3:15 pm


Jeremy White #5 “approved in far less time.” no “If I remember right, President Bush’s supreme court appointments were attacked and stalled with far greater animosity than Obama’s first appointment.” Perhaps you don’t remember right. The John Roberts senate interrogation was practically a love fest. The Democratic vote was 22 yea and 22 nay compared to Republicans voting 9 yea and 31 nay on Sotomoyer. Samual Allito did meet meet strong and somewhat contentious questioning. The Democratic vote was 4 yea and 42 nay. Yes, you are right about Clarance Thomas. Like you, I decry the partinsinship on both sides.
“The Dems haven’t exactly shown a collective spirit of cooperation in recent decades.” Please, that should read “the Democrats and Republicans haven’t shown …” Don’t just excuse your side when both are at fault. That is what has gotten us to where we are.
Doug



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