What about health care reform?
Ought health care legislation be stopped dead in its tracks after the Brown win? That is a clear promise he made in the campaign (though procedurally he can’t necessarily stop it himself). But many Democrats are saying that the result shouldn’t be ignored and that HCR should be halted. You supported Brown. You supported this (not just any) health care reform. Where do you stand? ~ Michael Drew, in the comments
I went back and forth a bit on the hypothetical – if I were a Massachusetts voter would I vote for Brown (and thus against HCR) or for Coakley (and thus against my better judgment). I honestly can’t say what I would have done, because I like Scott Brown but I also want reform of our terrible no good healthcare system. I’ve had some pushback at my other blog (where I have been writing a great deal about Brown) from Daniel Larison and Andrew Sullivan over whether my enthusiasm for Brown was ill-placed.
I may be wrong about Brown – he may not be the reformer many of us dissidents would like, but he’s such a change in tone and style it’s been a relief seeing him actually succeed, defying not only all the odds, but also the current Republican strategy. Whether he is a mindless Bush Republican as Sullivan has labeled him, or whether he is actually going to change things for the better in the GOP is hard to say – but the stylistic shift he represents is substantial and may be in and of itself a significant step forward for conservatives.
And yes, even though it may cause healthcare reform to die in its tracks, I still think that the right person won in Massachusetts. I also think that there are ways the Democrats could scale back reform and get some conservatives on board with a much more modest, more market-friendly reform that still helps a lot of people who need help.
In the end, I’m not too down over healthcare reform bottoming out. I don’t think it’s over, for one thing. And maybe something better, something more fiscally sound that still covers most Americans will emerge from all of this – perhaps even something with bipartisan support. Maybe a better, less cynical Republican party will begin to take root as well. Maybe, just maybe, people will take another look at Wyden/Bennett….
Regarding the notion that I supported this specific reform bill – well that’s true. But my support was premised on my belief that it was the only one with a chance of succeeding. Some reform was better than no reform, I told myself – and that’s true, too, though my support for the bill was slowly dwindling as more and more special interest deals were made. The union tax-exemption hit at the same time as I began really paying attention to Brown. It wasn’t exactly a nail in a coffin, but it was close.
I think we can still get a bill. It won’t be the same bill, but if we can do even something more modest – with some built in safety nets and some added competition and cost-controls, we’ll still be on a better footing than we were a year ago.
So I’m not sure what I would have done if I had to go down to the ballot box yesterday. But I’m pretty happy with the results. That drawing board the Democrats have to go back to – it might be the best course after all.