Friday, November 08, 2002
Mickey Kaus pretty much agrees with me on Peter Beinart, wondering why he hasn't joined Bush's GOP since he favors most of Bush's agenda, is to his Right if anything on Iraq and the war on terror, and opposes everything the Dems currently stand for. Mickey's suggestion for the Dems is to highlight what he calls "the important issue over which the parties differ" - namely, universal health insurance. On everything else, apparently, Mickey and Peter are with the Bushies.
Okay. Except, didn't Oregon - a blue state - reject single-payer health insurance by something like a 60% margin this week? And wasn't Hillarycare the major reason why Bill Clinton lost the House and Senate in his first term? I hate to say it, but this just doesn't have the feel of an electoral silver-bullet from where I sit.
Let's talk about health care. The one thing that unites Americans with Brits with Canadians - three rather different health-care systems, one a hodge-podge of public and private insurance, one with nationalized health-care, and one with single-payer national insurance - is that they are acutely dissatisfied with their health-care. Providing basic care for everyone is relatively cheap. Providing complete care for everyone is ruinously expensive. And every insurance system distorts the health-care market and consumer decisions within it. So every system makes compromises and every system makes people unhappy. Why does Mickey Kaus think that the old-Dems have the solution to this one? People with insurance say their biggest problem is too much bureaucracy and not enough choice. Does government rationing sound like the solution?
What I'm wondering is not when the Dems are going to get their act together on this issue but when the GOP will feel confident enough to come up with their own solution to our health-care dilemma, putting them on offense on every issue on the map.
When the GOP comes up with a classic "New Democrat" solution to health-care - some mix of high-deductible very basic insurance for everyone and medical savings accounts - we can count on the Dems - following their Social Security template - to fight it on the grounds that it's a threat to Medicare. At that point, will Mickey and Peter join the GOP? If not, why not?
P.S. It looks like David Frum is giving the Dems the same advice as Mickey Kaus. Of course, he's playing for the other team.