Paul Krugman makes the case for passing the Senate version of health-care reform:
With all its flaws, the Senate health bill would be the biggest expansion of the social safety net since Medicare, greatly improving the lives of millions. Getting this bill would be much, much better than watching health care reform fail.
At its core, the bill would do two things. First, it would prohibit discrimination by insurance companies on the basis of medical condition or history: Americans could no longer be denied health insurance because of a pre-existing condition, or have their insurance canceled when they get sick. Second, the bill would provide substantial financial aid to those who don’t get insurance through their employers, as well as tax breaks for small employers that do provide insurance.
Assuming it works, this sounds pretty good. And I wonder if there would’ve been less acrimony if the bill hadn’t been sold as a comprehensive overhaul in the first place. Because people were expecting so much more, the current bill looks like a miserable sellout. But as a first step, it sounds promising. Of course, if this scaled-down version had been pitched from the get-go, who knows what we would’ve ended up with?
It’s analogous in some ways to the wildly inflated hopes people seem to have had for Barack Obama’s presidency in general and the ensuing disappointment in some quarters on the Left. If you think of him as a pragmatic, center-left politician, he seems like a dramatic improvement over the previous administration. But if you had the idea of a paradigm-altering progressive superhero in mind when you voted for him, you’re no doubt sorely disappointed about now.