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The Incoherence of Compromise

There are times when compromise merges the insights and concerns of two different camps to arrive at a stronger synthesis. And then there's what happens in the United States Senate. Jon Chait explains:

The fetishization of compromise often overlooks whether such a compromise makes any inherent sense. Not all issues lend themselves to compromise. Joe Lieberman recently piped up that he prefers to take minor steps on health care--such as banning insurance company discrimination against those with preexisting conditions--and forego covering the uninsured.

But, if you forbid insurance companies from discriminating against the sick without bringing healthy people into the risk pool, then healthy people would have no reason to buy insurance. They could just wait until they get sick and take out a policy, and the insurance companies would have to sell them one. Rates would skyrocket, and the whole system would become unaffordable. Some say we should build a bridge across a river. Others say we shouldn’t. Joe Lieberman wants to build a bridge halfway across.

The Senate Finance Committee has a health-care bill that costs about $900 billion over 10 years. The administration, as I understand it, is likely to come in around the same number. Both of these numbers are attached to a bill that experts think needs $1.2 trillion or so to really prove affordable. As I understand it, $900 billion is a compromise with senators who want to spend somewhat less money than the liberals want to spend. But it's not a compromise that makes a lot of sense given the importance of this bill or the fairly small difference between inadequacy and affordability.

By Ezra Klein  |  September 9, 2009; 5:40 PM ET
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I think that is the pretty much story of Health Care Reform - it is inter connected and it is almost impossible to take away any one piece out (especially about mandate and covering more people) without the whole thing bringing down.

The only choices politicians have are:
- who would be taxed for coverage increase (presuming we want fiscally balanced reform) and
- what compromises people will have to do in accepting constraints on currently open ended health care provision especially when our government underwrites that.

The job for Media is to hammer our Politicians for their stupidity and refusal to understand this interconnectedness.

President has been struggling for a while to explain these connections. But at least he is the politician who is making those efforts to explain to others. Most others are not doing anything. Hopefully his speech today helps.

But then there are still disingenuous Media folks like WaPo's Michael Gerson who has the daring to claim - 'where is the crisis in Health Care' implying Obama is playing scare mongering here and worst of all trying to disturb the applecart! What planet Liberman and Gersons of the world live? Gerson says further that true crisis is Medicare induced deficit but thinks Obama is doing nothing for that.

Then demand some serious cost controls for God's sake, do not deny that there is no issue or things are not interconnected.

Sen. Liberman or Gerson or Palin; these people just refuse to acknowledge the problem or moving parts in this complex issue. These folks really do not deserve to be in the position where they are, they are full of dishonesty and out there to take down America essentially.

At least President is trying to solve the problem, many onlookers just want to continue the slow wreck as is.

Posted by: umesh409 | September 9, 2009 5:57 PM | Report abuse

"Joe Lieberman recently piped up that he prefers to take minor steps on health care"

Just keep voting for things like a nice grandfatherly smile people of Connecticut. That's more important that health care for your children, and avoiding horrible financial and health risk for hundreds of millions of people.

Posted by: RichardHSerlin | September 9, 2009 6:04 PM | Report abuse

Regardless of the message tonight or the response thereto, both the President and journalists like Klein deserve a degree of appreciation for at least attempting to address the issues in a rational, reasoned manner. Hearing some viable solutions, and some coherent compromises, amidst the criticism and complaining is refreshing.

Posted by: rmgregory | September 9, 2009 6:14 PM | Report abuse

But when has it ever been different? Did the Missouri Compromise, in the end, make any sense? Or the Compromise of 1790? Or even the Great Compromise, that gave us the Senate in the first place?

Posted by: pj_camp | September 9, 2009 6:19 PM | Report abuse

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