Battlepanda: Noooo!


Always trying to figure things out with the minimum of bullshit and the maximum of belligerence.

Sunday, March 05, 2006


Matt Yglesias learns the wrong lesson from previous Democratic push to get us some civilized healthcare in this country. He rightly points out that Clinton Care crashed and burned because it had all the political liability of socialized medicine, but was confusing and lacked a lot of the substantive benefits because it had been so watered down in an attempt to make it a workable compromise. He then points to another red herring that some Democrats have been suckered into pursuing -- the semi-free-market "let's just force everyone to purchase insurance from the private sector" option. His take-down of that option was righteous too.

But what Matt is arguing is that we should leave the whole issue alone because past efforts to implement a solution has failed. What might be more instructive is to consider why past efforts failed. I mean, we're talking about giving people healthcare here -- if we can't sell this, what can we sell? I would say that what our past failure is instructive of is not that we can't sell universal healthcare to the American public, but that we can't work with Republicans at all on this issue until we change the public perceptions.

It seems to me that the Ezra Klein go-fer-broke option is the correct one to take here. What we need to do is to argue strongly for the undiluted single-payer plan, damn the torpedos. Don't try and think about whether this is "workable"...go straight to the people. Short-run political pain is certainly predictable, but we have been aiding and abetting the Republicans in their bizarre portrayal of single-payer healthcare for too long by treating it as extreme and radioactive ourselves. We start talking about it as if it is a scandal that Americans should go without treatment or families should go bankrupt because they can't afford exorbitant healthhcare costs, and people are going to start recognizing it as a scandal. I know that Democrats are hopeless in general when it comes to putting a human face on their policies, but in this case it should be simple to go out there and find half a dozen families whose lives have been screwed over by the current system and run an ad on each. Clintoncare was sunk in part by the Harry and Louise ads, because people could identify with Harry and Louise's befuddlement at it's complexity. What we need to do is to find Harry and Louise-like figures to illustrate to people what universal healthcare can do for them.

Once people start seeing universal health care as something they've been screwed out of rather than a dangerous experiment, the Republicans will have no choice but to come around, or be seen as the party that is objectively pro-health-related bankruptcies and uninsured children.