Feingold Predicts Health Care Reform Is Dead-ish

By Justin Gardner | Related entries in Democrats, Health Care

Here’s what he had to say today about the prospects for getting this bill passed…

From Lakeland Times:

“Nobody is going to bring a bill before Christmas, and maybe not even then, if this ever happens,” Feingold said. “The divisions are so deep. I never seen anything like that.”

Feingold reiterated his appraisal a bit later.

“We’re headed in the direction of doing absolutely nothing, and I think that’s unfortunate,” he said when asked about the plight of uninsured Americans.

You know, if Feingold and his fellow Dems would get behind something like the co-ops then health care reform could easily pass. But they’re not. And I don’t understand the notion of letting this bill die if it can provide competition with the private sector. Because, in the end, that’s what we’re looking for.

Also, there are other bills like Wyden-Bennett that could be better, and maybe this current bill dies and something W-B that is adopted in its wake. But let’s hear support for those options now instead of just saying that nothing is going to get done.

Long story short, there are solutions and if Dems can’t get behind the feasible ones, well, that’s their fault.

By the way, mw is going to have more on Wyden-Bennett soon.


This entry was posted on Tuesday, August 25th, 2009 and is filed under Democrats, Health Care. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

16 Responses to “Feingold Predicts Health Care Reform Is Dead-ish”

  1. Simon Says:

    Feingold is selling doing nothing short. Sometimes – often, actually, when we’re talking about government – doing nothing is the optimum strategy. And between doing nothing and doing something that causes untold harm because it was half-baked, nothing is preferable to something. We should be cautious of the politician’s mantra: something must be done, this is something, ergo this must be done. Not so. The idea that something must be done right now is foolish and almost certain to lead to suboptimal results, and although I have no beef with the maxim attributed to Patton that “[a] good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week,” that does not hold in all circumstances, and in any event doesn’t contradict me: between a bad plan now and nothing, nothing is still preferable. Benign neglect is an underappreciated strategy.

  2. Jon Dale Says:

    Imagine having this conversation 50 years ago (which we did). Every other developed country in the world adopted universal healthcare with more or less federal government intervention (sometimes painfully). We pursued benign neglect. Here we are 50 years later. America now spends the most of any developed country and gets the worst results. Maybe it’s time for a different approach.

    I see where an earlier commentator votes for benign neglect. I’ve got two words for him – financial services.

    America won’t grind to a halt if it attempts healthcare reform.

  3. Nick Benjamin Says:

    Now this is interesting. It’s either a negotiating tactic designed to get everyone thinking about what will happen if they don’t get it done in October or the plan is in much bigger trouble than I thought.

    As an American that troubles me. Like Jon said we spend more than anyone else, lots more, and get the same (or worse) results. Keep in mind that 1/6 of our economy is health care, and if 1/6 of your economy is hideously inefficient you shouldn’t be surprised you’re the only one not pulling out of recession.

    I sincerely doubt he’s right. Pelosi will push it through the House, probably with a public option. The Senate is trickier but Harry Reid has recently floated the idea that the Senate could vote on everything everyone agrees on in one bill under standard rules, but the Public Option could be dealt with via reconciliation.

  4. michael reynolds Says:

    Simon:

    Yes, the conservative mantra: do nothing. As meaningless as most pearls of conservative wisdom.

    Something is always done. To do nothing is to do something. It’s to opt for more of the same downward spiral.

    “I saw him drowning but I thought it best to do nothing.”

    “You didn’t do nothing, you let him drown.”

    So long as there is free will, doing and not doing are both choices, both are actions. Indeed the distinction is pretty much meaningless.

  5. Mike Says:

    It seems clear to me that Democratic leadership will not seriously consider any moderate bipartisan plans like Wyden-Bennett until it is evident that the partisan plans can’t be passed. So I take this as a positive development.

  6. Nick Benjamin Says:

    Wyden-Bennett isn’t very bipartisan. It’s got several GOP co-sponsors, but most of them won’t commit to voting for it. They have serious doubts about the bill, and apparently signed to signal their support for bipartisan solutions not their endorsement of this particular bipartisan solution:
    http://voices.washingtonpost.com/ezra-klein/2009/06/is_the_healthy_americans_act_a.html

    It would actually get Lindsey Graham’s vote, so with Bennett we’re up to two Republicans:
    http://voices.washingtonpost.com/ezra-klein/2009/08/is_there_a_deal_to_be_made_on.html

    That probably is not enough to compensate for Dems who won’t/can’t vote for a bill that kills the Employer Tax Exemption. Unions love that exemption, as do most voters. Employer-based policies would become more expensive if the exemption was eliminated, and most people who actually vote have one of those policies. Those folks would have real reason to worry if a health reform messed with the exemption.

    Notice how worried some folks are about the current plan, and it doesn’t change a thing for 80-90% of the country.

  7. Jim S Says:

    Might I suggest you read the section about long term problems with the Wyden-Bennett plan before waxing lyrical about it? I think that part explains why the Republicans are so willing to support it.

  8. Jimmy the Dhimmi Says:

    Mike R:

    “I saw him drowning but I thought it best to do nothing.”

    How about, “I saw him drowning so I threw him a concrete cinder-block.” At least it is doing something, correct? We will call this the “Democrat Mantra” from now on.

    Maybe if this drowning fellow were allowed to remove the government-mandated lead vest that he is forced to wear by the IRS and the state-governor’s office, he might have a better chance of staying afloat. Don’t you think?

  9. Mike Says:

    Nick and Jim,

    Speaking for myself, I said “plans like Wyden-Bennett”. If and when the current proposals become unpassable, there will certainly be plenty of debate on what a truly bipartisan approach might look like, which may or may not end up looking like Wyden-Bennett.

    “Notice how worried some folks are about the current plan, and it doesn’t change a thing for 80-90% of the country.”

    Actually, that’s one of the main reasons I am worried about it. As the President says, if we are going to expand coverage, we also need to control costs. Otherwise the plan will never be sustainable. You can’t control costs by not changing anything in the health care system for the vast majority of the population.

    Will it be an easy political sell? Absolutely not. But neither is the current proposals, so if we’re going to fight for something, shouldn’t it be something that would work?

  10. Mike Says:

    And Nick, the link you provided quotes some Republican lawmakers saying that there are parts of the bill that they don’t like. In a bipartisan compromise, why is that surprising to you? I’m sure those lawmakers will try to amend the bill if it actually comes before them, as will Democratic lawmakers. Who votes for it will depend on what the bill actually ends up looking like. But I see no reason to assume that they won’t vote for it, just because they’ve cited some parts of the bill that they don’t like (within a statement showing support for the entire bill).

  11. Twitter Trackbacks for Donklephant » Blog Archive » Feingold Predicts Health Care Reform Is Dead-ish [donklephant.com] on Topsy.com Says:

    [...] link is being shared on Twitter right now. @jpgardner, an influential author, said DONKLEPHANT: Feingold [...]

  12. Nick Benjamin Says:

    Actually, that’s one of the main reasons I am worried about it. As the President says, if we are going to expand coverage, we also need to control costs. Otherwise the plan will never be sustainable. You can’t control costs by not changing anything in the health care system for the vast majority of the population.

    If we’re gonna keep afloat, period, we have to control costs. People bitch and moan about the current deficits, but if we do nothing they’ll look like peanuts. Expanding coverage is a necessary part of the plan because a) it would help control costs by improving access to primary care, and b) it provides the plan with a political constituency. You simply control costs you’ll piss everybody off, and get killed in the Senate. Obama’s plan is a start at both, but I agree we’ll have to revisit this issue at least once.

    And Nick, the link you provided quotes some Republican lawmakers saying that there are parts of the bill that they don’t like. In a bipartisan compromise, why is that surprising to you?

    They’re not questioning little parts of the bill. Specter is against the end of the employer tax exemption, which funds the legislation. Sen. Gregg is against a half-dozen actual elements of the legislation, including the individual mandate. That mandate is a major part of the reason health care wonks think Wyden-Bennett would work.

    It wouldn’t be surprising in some ordinary Senators statements on the Bill he said he supports it but. But these guys are sponsors. Gregg said flat-out he doesn’t like most of the legislation, but supports bipartisanship, and that’s the only reason he signed on. Specter is doing something a lot more dishonest. Talking up the bipartisan aspects of the legislation while opposing the compromise that made it possible.

    That’s a pretty strong signal that when Wyden-Bennett stops being Wyden and Bennett’s tribute to bipartisanship, and starts being something voters have to live with these guys will need persuading.

    It’ll be the same thing that happened when Sen. Isakson tried to get Medicare to help pay for people’s living wills. They were all for it, until it became politically convenient to call them “Death Panels.” Now even Mr. Bipartisanship Chuck Grassley insists they be removed.

  13. kranky kritter Says:

    MR, you seem caught in a rut these days. Can’t you do any better than a quick drive-by for a gratuitous slap at conservatism?

    For while what you say is not inaccurate, you avoid addressing the thrust of Simon’s point that if the bill does not provide substantial improvement, does not actually make things, you know, better, then why pass it?

    There doesn’t seem to be enough agreement that it WILL make things better, and that’s the root of its failure to get passed so far. Everyone ought to try stomaching that.

    How hard is it really, to make conservatives look bad by saying that their mantra is “do nothing?” Are you really proud of your wit and insight on that point? Really?

    You’re a clever fellow. Suppose someone promised you a splendid reward if only you could come up with 3 instances from your personal experience where you honestly felt that doing nothing really and truly was better than doing something. You’d be on your way with your prize in short order, wouldn’t you?

    Presumedly, the proposed reform will be either helpful or harmful. And that’s the distinction Simon was focused on. Simon can be a real d!ck, as we all know. And he can also be a smart guy who asks the right questions. So I think you’ll be doing all of us a favor if you didn’t take it as your personal mission to find some way to throw Simon under the bus every time he posts.

  14. Nick Benjamin Says:

    For while what you say is not inaccurate, you avoid addressing the thrust of Simon’s point that if the bill does not provide substantial improvement, does not actually make things, you know, better, then why pass it?

    I’m not sure I’d call the improvements “substantial,” but they do exist. No more pre-existing conditions clause, fix the donut hole in Medicare Part D, cut the uninsured in half, create a national health insurance market, etc.

    None is a bad idea, and they are all improvements, but IMO the bill just doesn’t go far enough. That’s why I’m not too quick to compromise on the co-ops.

  15. kranky kritter Says:

    Good points Nick. I don’t really disagree. I simply object to Michael’s drive-by style here.

    I do thjnk it would be a shame if the “pass something to pass something” ethos led to passage of a bill that only nibbled at a few bits of the problem, and did not make substantial changes to address the most serious parts of the problem.

    Especially cost. My attitude to congress is “keep working. Make something substantial happen.” What I really don’t want to hear is the beginning drumbeat of excuses that the coming mid-terms are making it too hard. Congress needs to better appreciate that they get elected to do the people’s urgent business of the time for which they were elected. Any congress person worried about getting re-elected should IMO be worried about running for re-election empty-handed.

  16. Donklephant » Blog Archive » To Dream The (Im)Possible Health Care Reform Dream Says:

    […] Wyden-Bennett actually have bipartisan support? Commenter Mike (not mw) kicked off an interesting discussion among the Donklephant commentariat, questioning whether there is sincere bipartisan support for this bill, or whether Republicans were […]

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