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Conservatives shocked by the political process

M2X00189_9.JPGOne of Mike Allen's "favorite conservatives" e-mails: "Think of any particular Republican favorite item. Imagine that it passed with a single Dem vote and affected 16% of the GDP. Then imagine Delay, Frist and Dick Cheney meeting in secret to hash out differences. Now, consider the firestorm of press outrage.”

This comment is notable for the fact that none of the three sentences actually makes any sense. For one thing, this idea that the health-care bill affects "16% of GDP" is inane. That 16% of GDP captures people in private insurance, Medicaid, Medicare, and assorted other arrangements purchasing medical care. This bill will not stop them from purchasing medical care nor will it change the way they purchase medical care nor is it likely to change how much medical care they purchase.

To put this even more clearly, in 2008, the country spent $2.3 trillion on health care. In 2016 -- so, after implementation -- this bill will spend about $150 billion helping people buy health care. Assume that national spending that year will be about $3 trillion, then the health bill is accounting for about 5 percent of our spending that year. The idea that this bill, which is going to cost fairly little in the scheme of things and do virtually nothing to people who are already insured, is somehow transforming the provision of 16 percent of GDP is misleading at best.

As for the other sentences, if Allen's correspondent doesn't believe that Republican congressional leadership met with the White House to settle on the final versions of their bills, then I really don't know why Allen is publishing his commentary. As for the resulting press outrage, people really need to read up on the process that led to Medicare Part D before talking about what the political establishment will and will not tolerate.

Photo credit: Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP.

By Ezra Klein  |  January 5, 2010; 11:15 AM ET
Categories:  Health Reform  
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The insane thing is that bit about passing with a single dem vote.

Universal Republican opposition cannot be a condition for alarm and a signal of intensive partisanship if it is a ubiquitous condition.

Posted by: adamiani | January 5, 2010 11:39 AM | Report abuse

As I recall, Republicans used to pass any old thing through the Senate and then totally rewrite it in conferences from which Democrats were excluded, repeatedly inserting provisions that no one had ever voted on and that were the opposite of what people had voted on.

So the equivalent would be if this bill went to conference and came out with single payer. Wake me when that happens.

Posted by: pj_camp | January 5, 2010 11:50 AM | Report abuse

I just heard Cici Connelly on MSNBC mention that the CEO of C-Span has offered to broadcast every minute of the negotiations that will lead to the final health care bill.

I hope that Reid and Pelosi accept and fulfil one of President Obama's campaign promises.

Posted by: mwhoke | January 5, 2010 12:01 PM | Report abuse

Has there really ever been a media firestorm of outrage over how the sausage gets made?
Seriously, not even including the recent filibuster of unemployment insurance extension that everybody voted for, was the public outraged by the delays in civil rights legislation during the 60's? "The base" sure, but everyone else?

I think Ezra underestimates the potential impact of this bill. The excise tax by design pushes more and more health care out of the employer market and onto the exchanges. The odd thing is that reducing the tax break for health care is potentially transformative and at the same time high on the Republican priority list of what would be in a health care bill.

Posted by: windshouter | January 5, 2010 12:01 PM | Report abuse

There is nothing wrong, illegal, immoral or unethical about using ping-pong.....especially when the opposition party has made it abundantly clear in all of its actions over the last year that they will do everything in their power to kill the bill. A conference committee would just give them more ability to stall things.

Oh, and when they were the majority party the Republicans met without Democrats many times to hash things out without Dem input.

Posted by: scott1959 | January 5, 2010 12:06 PM | Report abuse

It is just insane that wealthy, well-connected whites like Mike Allen and his friends can fantasize that they are an oppressed minority. The GOP did stuff ten times worse than this every day, and hardly anybody reported anything about it. Of course the minority is going to complain about the political process. It's their fantasy that there's a double standard, and that the media is out to get them, that has all sensible centrists such as myself questioning their sanity.

This is how things worked when the GOP was the majority. And no one cared.

Posted by: eelvisberg | January 5, 2010 12:26 PM | Report abuse

"This bill will not stop them from purchasing medical care nor will it change the way they purchase medical care nor is it likely to change how much medical care they purchase."

Mr. Klein, you continue to peddle complete and utter lies like this one.

You constantly peddle the numbers from the CBO as some sort of holy grail that proves that not only that these bills aren't complete disasters, but that they will somehow be "good." Yet you ignore the CBO's accompanying comments that the numbers it generated are wholly unrealistic because it was fed a stream of dubious assumptions that no one actually believes will happen.

Regarding the statement quoted above, the CBO said the following: "We estimate that between 9 million and 10 million other people who would be covered by an employment-based plan under current law would not have an offer of such coverage under the proposal." Depending on what comes out of conference, some credible studies put that number at 80 million or more for the House plan.

What about all of these "advisory" boards/government agencies whose job it will be to determine what treatments are "efficient" enough for people to be allowed to seek? They may start off as binine, but who's to say down the road that they won't have FDA-type power?

Now, with CSPAN begging them, the Dems still won't open the conference process to the public. They will come out with a 3,000 page bill, giving people about 4 hours to read it and then force a vote on it. This, after having bought off nearly every crucial vote for it. This bill is an abomination that is taking the sleaziest possible route to life. It needs to be killed ASAP.

Posted by: octopi213 | January 5, 2010 3:31 PM | Report abuse

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