Bad Health-Care Reform Won't Just Be Bad Now, It Will Continue to Be Bad For a Really Long Time


I haven't been terribly impressed with Republican opposition to health-care reform, which seems driven far more by political concerns than actual policy disputes. Just as Obama wants to pass a health-care bill, any health-care bill, to retain his political strength, Republicans seem to be looking at the debate primarily as an opportunity to take down a political opponent who desperately needs to pass a health-care bill this year in order to keep his edge. So most of the talk of not rushing the legislative process, for example, is being done largely in hopes that it will slow down the reform train enough that it will eventually just shut down altogether. But despite the GOP's blatant political opportunism, they do have a worthwhile point, one articulated by RNC Chair Michael Steele in today's New York Times:  

The blunt-spoken Mr. Steele expressed astonishment that Congress, pressed by Mr. Obama, was trying to complete its ambitious health-care plans before its summer recess begins in the first week of August, saying, "If we screw this up, it could last a generation."

Steele can be a goof, but in this case, he's right. As previously noted, the incentives for Democratic leadership—and even more for Obama—are simply to pass a bill, the bigger the better, no matter what's actually in it. The Washingtonese excuse for this is usually "it will create a framework," but that just translates into "we just want to pass something, declare victory, and then spend a while basking in the warm glow of fawning press coverage." But Steele's right: If a bill gets passed now, it—and all of the problems that Congress shrugged their shoulders at when they passed it—will be with us for decades. And, as years of tinkering with Medicare and Medicaid have shown, Congressional "fixes" usually just end up making them worse. Like unwanted house-guests and new movies starring Keanu Reeves*, once problematic government programs are put into place, it's almost impossible to get rid of them.  
Browse Reason's complete archive of health-care coverage here.  
*Granted, Point Break is pretty awesome.  

NEXT: Survival Television

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Given that the competing partisan political calculations here are:

    (1) Pass a health care bill, any health care bill, anything at all, within the next few weeks to maintain our (Dem) political viability and

    (2) Block any and all health care bills to damage the (Dem) political viability.

    Can anyone argue that (1) is likely to better for the Republic than (2)?

  2. *Granted, Point Break is pretty awesome.

    This had better be a joke, New Guy.

  3. Congressional “fixes” usually just end up making them worse

    I am open-minded kind of guy but I think the word usually is extremely generous. Name one change to a Congressional fuckup (at least one that was anything other than dismantling a particularly bad piece of legislation) that could by even the most charitable description be called making it better?

  4. Granted, Point Break is pretty awesome.

    Only because of the presence of Patrick “Roadhouse” Swayze.

  5. “ut despite the GOP’s blatant political opportunism

    Steele can be a goof”

    Yes we know Pete, you think Republicans are icky. Did it really hurt that badly to admit they are right about something? Were the backhanded compliments really necessary? Worried about losing your MSM streetcrede?

  6. The problem that I have with Republicans is once again they accepted the premise that the federal government can fix the problems we face. Both parties are completely invested in idea that government intervention can solve these issues as with health care and the economy as a whole.

    Their remedies are always worse than the illness.

    The fact of the matter is Republicans embrace the concept of massive government intervention as much as Democrats do. The only difference is Democrats are honest with their voters about this and Republicans lie to theirs.

  7. “If we don’t pass this bill, PUPPIES WILL DIE!”

  8. “Please, won’t somebody think of the adorable roly-poly puppies?”

  9. This had better be a joke, New Guy.

    Dude, are you questioning the awesomeness of Point Break!? Back off Warchild, seriously.

  10. Kevin: I see your point, but it’s a fact that much of our present health care conundrum is the legacy of past government intervention. So I am willing to advocate federal intervention that undoes past intervention. Start with reforming/streamlining the FDA, tort reform, and undoing mandates on what health insurance must cover (though many of those are state laws, IIRC).

    Libertarians and Republicans need to do more than block the Democrats. They need to go on the offense and offer distinct free-market proposals that will make health care more competitive and thus cheaper.

  11. We have a tendency in America to argue for or against a concept based on our own personal philosophy or view of the world, what advances our personal interests, or the interests of our party, family, organization, or region. Perhaps viewing the issue from a management or systemic perspective might result in innovative approaches to the issue. The American national mindset, citizen philosophy, lack of citizen motivation to be proactively healthy, and governance model make the socialization of health care in America very problematic, particularly at this point in time. A country needs to know its limitations.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.