Friday, March 19, 2010

Schauer Announces Health Care Vote on MSNBC

I'm listening to MSNBC this morning, talking about the undecided Dems that are "facing election" this fall - implying that they are more concerned about re-election than they are doing the right thing here. Figures. Since Mark Schauer represents one of those "R-leaning" districts, and has been deluged with negative TV ads for weeks, it makes his stand all that more courageous. Watch as he explains how he came to his decision to vote for the bill.

After months of screaming from the right, and screaming from the left, I find myself turning to Paul Krugman for a bit of sanity. He has been a fair critic on the Obama administration on many issues - and he is for this bill. I defer to his knowledge of economics...

Can we afford this? Yes, says the Congressional Budget Office, which on Thursday concluded that the proposed legislation would reduce the deficit by $138 billion in its first decade and half of 1 percent of G.D.P., amounting to around $1.2 trillion, in its second decade.

But shouldn’t we be focused on controlling costs rather than extending coverage? Actually, the proposed reform does more to control health care costs than any previous legislation, paying for expanded coverage by reducing the rate at which Medicare costs will grow, substantially improving Medicare’s long-run financing along the way. And this combination of broader coverage and cost control is no accident: It has long been clear to health-policy experts that these concerns go hand in hand. The United States is the only advanced nation without universal health care, and it also has by far the world’s highest health care costs.

Can you imagine a better reform? Sure. If Harry Truman had managed to add health care to Social Security back in 1947, we’d have a better, cheaper system than the one whose fate now hangs in the balance. But an ideal plan isn’t on the table. And what is on the table, ready to go, is legislation that is fiscally responsible, takes major steps toward dealing with rising health care costs, and would make us a better, fairer, more decent nation.

All it will take to make this happen is for a handful of on-the-fence House members to do the right thing. Here’s hoping.

Theory is always different from practice, of course, and we will see how this plays out in the years to come. Assuming it passes. We do know one thing though - if this goes down in flames, it will embolden the crazies on the right, the Democrats will all run for cover, and nothing will ever get done. Not on health care, not on anything. This is coming down to a test of Democratic strength, which was always suspect in the first place.

If they don't win this one... well, imagine what this country will be like if we go back to the Republican economic policies that got us here in the first place.

It's do or die time. Quite literally.