Will GOP winning the battle force Democrats to war?

Will GOP winning the battle force Democrats to war?

Summary: The title of Ted Turner's autobiography applies here to health reform. Lead, follow or get out of the way.

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Even avid Democrats like former Labor Secretary Robert Reich admit Republicans won the August argument on health care. (Picture from Wikimedia Commons.)

Reich wrote this week that Democrats have ideas but Republicans have discipline, illustrating the point with his own call for a September march on Washington, which he now admits was just a thought balloon.

But the loss has stiffened some liberal spines, like that of New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, who now calls for "siege warfare against deeply entrenched interests, defending a deeply dysfunctional political system."

So while the far right won the health care argument last month, there are Democrats to their left who now want to go to war. Senate Finance Committee chair Max Baucus has even given up on bipartisan negotiations and is ready to push through with his own party.

Rather than negotiating with Republicans to break a filibuster, in other words, Democrats are now negotiating among themselves to craft a bill that will win a majority through the Senate reconciliation process and pass the House.

The result could be a much more liberal bill than Washington previously thought could pass, or it could mean nothing at all. Whipping Democrats is a lot like herding cats.

Liberal Democrats have already stated clearly they won't vote for a bill without what they call a public option giving people the right to buy-in to something similar to Medicare. An opposite call from "Blue Dog" Democrats and you're back to square one.

The problem here for Republicans is their own past success. President Clinton failed to get a health bill through in 1993 and Democrats were hammered the next year, especially their more conservative members. It took them over a decade to win back the majorities they had then.

This may make threats to wreck the careers of those voting "aye" less potent, with conservative Democrats figuring that if they can't win they might as well stand for something.

The bottom line. If Democrats can't agree on a proposal given their substantial majorities in both Houses of  Congress, they face a generation's exile in the political wilderness, no matter how many crazy pills some Republicans take.

The title of Ted Turner's autobiography applies here. Lead, follow or get out of the way.

If George Bush could get a war on a simple majority, Barack Obama should be able to get health care that way. Those who endorsed that war may learn to rue the lesson it taught.

Topics: IT Employment, CXO, Health

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107 comments
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  • MAJORITY DONT WANT GOVT HEALTHCARE

    Period, end of story.

    Just about every survey shows most don't want the government anywhere near healthcare.

    Period, end of story. Time for govt to start respecting the will of the people.
    itguy08
    • But Dana "the socialist" does..

      so he will keep going on - ad nauseam - about it until he is out of breath. How does ZDNet let stuff like this get published?

      Govt run healthcare is a mess waiting to happen. Healthcare should remain PRIVATE, and those who work for it get it. Simple.
      JT82
      • Childish namecalling...

        but when you have nothing intelligent to say, that is to be expected.

        Clearly, you are happy to pay twice as much for less, and see the US falling further and further behind the rest of the world competitively.

        As for gov't run health care, the rest of the advanced world seems to manage it just fine thank you, so maybe you have a problem with the gov't and not gov't health care, in which case you need to fix the gov't.

        Finally, if you refuse to help those in need, The US will become a less and less desirable place to live. You already have a serious drug, crime and incarceration rate problem. Given your mindless post however, I do not expect you to understand ANY if this, but there may be others out there who are a little more enlightened and less bigoted than you are.
        Economister
        • No its factual, not name calling..

          and I dont expect you to understand because apparenly YOU enjoy your govt run healthcare across the pond (or to the north) BUT hey - thats your right. Have at it. The American way is NOT socialisim, its opportunity and creating ways for business to be competitive. Thats what needs to change.

          But I dont expect you to understand ANY of this, but there may be others out there who are a little more enlightened and less bigoted than you are, oh and that are American citizens as well. Thanks.
          JT82
          • American business is hamstrung

            I'm tired of having honest businesses forced to pay a 20% tax so their employees might find cures when they are sick. I'm tired of other employers getting away without paying.

            I am pro-capitalism. Very much so. Your juvenile name-calling aside.

            You answer to the problem of unbearably high insurance rates? To the problem of millions of hard-working, employed people unable to buy insurance or health care?

            You don't have one. No Republican proposal yet offered covers basic costs for everyone. None. Zero. Nada.

            This means that in order to maintain their professional responsibility, doctors treat the uninsured late in the disease process and pass the bills on to you.

            In doing this, medicine is by its very nature socialist. But it's been that way since the time of the Greeks.
            DanaBlankenhorn
          • "Basic costs for everyone"?????

            What in the world is that supposed to mean? Everything I hear coming out of Washington seems to be all about covering more people. Lip service is paid to lowering costs, but not a word about just how that will be accomplished - other than by wishful thinking and printing yet more money.

            All this just means that those of us working for a living will be paying our own costs just as we do now, but will also be picking up the bill for all the additional people being covered.
            cornpie
          • Obviously you haven't been listening

            There are many industry trends aimed at slowing the rate of health inflation, coming from the health insurance and hospital industries.

            The Obama plan is to incorporate these trends and extend them to cover everyone.

            By delivering basic needs you prevent disease and you do reduce costs. This was proven at Duke University, which self-insures. They succeeded in bending inflation down to zero.

            Many of the things you argue so forcefully against are things that are happening anyway, regardless of whether government spends one more dime on health care or health insurance. What you're fighting is what industry is doing, and what your employer wants to do.
            DanaBlankenhorn
        • Facts not in evidence.

          http://otherclub.blogspot.com/2009/06/canada-health-care-wait-times.html

          What's a 200 day wait for required neurosurgery. Bonus, the patient may die before they do it, saving more money. From 1993 to 2008, wait times have tripled, and are getting worse.

          I am Canadian and left, the system is overstressed and ready to implode. They can't even introduce co-pays for anything.

          The farce that it is "free" is invalid too. Mandatory surcharges (taxes) on OHIP was just another straw. Being in a "wealthy" tax bracket in Canada, the $1400 mandatory healthcare surcharge (which paved roads, lol) the last year I was there is never included in any "cost calculations".

          http://www.google.com/hostednews/canadianpress/article/ALeqM5jbjzPEY0Y3bvRD335rGu_Z3KXoQw
          [B]SASKATOON ? The incoming president of the Canadian Medical Association says this country's health-care system is sick and doctors need to develop a plan to cure it.

          Dr. Anne Doig says patients are getting less than optimal care and she adds that physicians from across the country - who will gather in Saskatoon on Sunday for their annual meeting - recognize that changes must be made.

          "We all agree that the system is imploding, we all agree that things are more precarious than perhaps Canadians realize," Doing said in an interview with The Canadian Press.[/B]

          Right from the horses mouth, Canadian doctors.

          And you do realize that most innovation in medicine worldwide is exported from the US to the rest of the world? Reduce US healthcare to the lowest common denominator and you lose that.

          Nobody says the US system is perfect, far from it, but it can be fixed with some relatively simply (and powerful) tweaks. That is unlike the Canadian system that is and has always been unsustainable. Government run is a BAD idea. Governments run nothing well. They are good and mandating what should happen. The Swedish model is much more reasonable.

          TripleII

          TripleII-21189418044173169409978279405827
          • Facts and Evidence

            If you want to take me to task for lacking facts and evidence, you are going to have to do A LOT better. One link of questionable credibility and a couple of selective quotes (from a single country at that) are NOT evidence regarding health care in the industrialized world.

            If you want facts, here they are:

            The US spends more than double that of virtually all comparable countries yet has worse health outcomes. As an aside, that is a very significant drag on the US economy. Anybody who claims the US has the best health care system in the world needs to get their heads out of the sand and deal with this reality. Less at twice the price CANNOT be more.

            No other country is copying the US system. Either everybody else is too stupid or the US system is not the best.

            10s of millions of Americans are uninsured. How long do they have to wait for life saving surgery? The President has his own private physician. So what?

            The insurance industry business model is selling policies and denying payment. For those who have their treatment denied (or delayed until they die) by their insurance company, how long do they have to wait for life saving treatment?

            And your relatively simple, powerful tweaks are nothing but hot air so far. Even with all the smart people in the US, I guess they haven't thought of your brilliant, but yet unpublished, solutions to the crisis.

            Give me a break.
            Economister
          • Canadian reform

            We have covered Canadian efforts at reform in this blog, and many of their ideas make sense.

            Having a place for private insurance, and private care, can reduce the load on the public system.

            But you will note that no one, in particular Dr. Doig, is proposing scrapping Canada's present system for the one we have in America.

            You deliberately declined to disclose that little fact, but I just did. It's an important one.

            Canadians spend one-third less than we do in health care and cover everyone. The system isn't perfect. The system could use more money and new business models. But Canadians also now live longer than we do.
            DanaBlankenhorn
          • We did have that discussion.

            I agree. The US system is head and shoulders better than the Canadian system in terms of quality. The Canadian system is head and shoulders above the US system in terms of Universal. Both suck and need to meet in the middle. Private insurers have the economic incentive to provide healthcare efficiently. The Government simply mandates minimum levels of care and turns the free enterprise system loose.

            I was not arguing with you, the other person.

            TripleII
            TripleII-21189418044173169409978279405827
          • Thank y ou, TripleII

            I really believe the answer lies somewhere in the middle, but every country is afraid of losing what they have, so reform everywhere --- even reform that meets in the middle -- has a very tough time.

            Witness the problems of the CMA. (Canadian Medical Assocaition) Each time they press for private insurance and private care, they get enormous pushback from those who are afraid of losing the universality that keeps outcomes as good as they are.
            DanaBlankenhorn
          • Good "outcomes" from universal health care. reporting is not uniform....

            Where is the U.S. placed in patient outcomes these days? 14th in the world or something like that?
            I don't believe Universal healthcare provides better outcomes necessarily. I think we don't have a global standard for reporting outcomes.

            Japan, and I believe some EU countries, for example do not count any infants under 10" or 400 grams in their reporting of infant mortality, the United States does.
            Last year their were 50 babies born under 400 grams that survived and 42 of them were in the United States. 8 in the rest of the entire world.
            I would need evidence that outcomes are all measured apples to apples first.
            I don't want to pay for other's healthcare necessarily, considering the amount I pay monthly for my own.
            It's a noble idea to provide coverage for all, but here we go again with the working class paying for those who in many cases, choose not to work.
            Hidden inside of this noble idea is an America heading more and more toward socialism.
            There are better ways. The government agency that handles Medicare and Medicaid services (CMS) is a fine place to start to reduce the cost of healthcare. It's too large and too powerful. It's a lumbering dinosaur that costs taxpayers and the healthcare system billions per year alone.
            I'm not one of the crazy people claiming that people over 74 are going to be left to die, but in this program, there is a distinct possibility of some level of rationing in the future.
            I think we should start by cleaning up the waste and bureaucracy in the current government programs before starting another one.
            That would free up money that could make healthcare more affordable.

            CMS has now forced hospitals to report all Hospital Aquired Infections (this is just one example of many) so that we are burdened with the expense of reporting them, which includes professionals being pulled away from patient safety and care, FTEs being pulled away from supporting roles to patient care to write new software that is used against them, and FTEs to maintain these ever increasing initiatives.
            So we are hit twice, with the expense of designing, building and maintaining our own revenue reductions.

            Let's clean up the government involvement in healtcare we already have first before trying to build another monster.

            xuniL_z
      • Liberal's proposal: "We enjoy the service, you guys pay."

        Just like every other proposal they throw out.
        LBiege
        • Everyone pays because everyone benefits

          Wellness care, preventive care, catching disease processes early when it's cheaper to treat -- that benefits everyone. It lowers your own costs, whether or not you have insurance.

          Don't say you don't benefit. You do.
          DanaBlankenhorn
          • Not according to the CBO.

            The congressional budget office thoroughly debunked the preventive care argument.

            http://cboblog.cbo.gov/?p=345

            [b]"Although different types of preventive care have different effects on spending, the evidence suggests that for most preventive services, expanded utilization leads to higher, not lower, medical spending overall."[/b]
            mikefarinha
          • CBO, SchmeeBO

            The same CBO also "scored" another one of the health plans that have passed committee and found that it had no impact on the budget deficit but managed to cover everyone.

            So taking a single quote out of context is not convincing.
            DanaBlankenhorn
      • Socialist, schmocialist

        I'm tired of the childish name-calling. I'm tired of you getting to decide what my feelings are on every issue based on what I write about one issue.

        And I'm heartily tired of you thinking that anyone who disagrees with your stand on a political issue should not be allowed to work in the field I've devoted my life to.

        There's a word for your attitude but I'm not going there.
        DanaBlankenhorn
        • If you're so tired of it

          Do something else. You want to sit here an pontificate to us unwashed
          masses about the wonders of socialized healthcare and have everyone
          sit in adoration of your brilliance. Then you get all bent out of shape
          when we, the great unwashed, don't do that.

          Here's an idea. Since this is ZDNet, maybe you could just write about
          something like computers and related matters.

          Then you could contribute your brilliance on socialized medicine to
          places where they'd truly appreciate that brilliance - like Daily Kos or
          Huffington Post.

          j.m.galvin
          • I do write about computing here

            I write about it a lot. I wrote about Medsphere getting vc money just today.

            Trouble is folks don't read it. They don't respond to it.

            As a profit-making enterprise we respond to what the market shows it wants, not what it says it wants.

            Judging by your response, you want more of this.
            DanaBlankenhorn