As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Monday, March 02, 2009

Health Care=Economic Recovery

I usually kind of pass through the Matt Cooper posts on TPMDC with one eye closed, but this point about health care makes some sense.

The real question about health care's success depends on whether Obama can make it seem like an essential part of economic recovery. As Obama spoke the Dow continued to sink well below 7000. If he can make universal health care seem like an essential part of economic recovery he has a shot at prevailing. But at the moment too many people see health care as an expensive nicety, something that's desirable but not essential to recovery. The upcoming White House Health Care Summit should give the president another opportunity to reframe the debate but at the moment the fight is not being fought on terrain that's favorable to the president.

The quibble I have with it is that, historically, major advances in the social safety net did come in times of severe economic downturn. See Deal, New. I think the Obama team is moving to link health care with overall economic health, and what's more, they're right. Businesses can't compete globally if they're the only companies in the industrialized world burdened with soaring health care costs. Workers cannot spend freely or decide to go into business for themselves if the threat of medical bankruptcy is constantly over their heads. I'm not sure people see health care as simply desirable. It's really hurting families out in America every day.

It's going to be tough enough to outflank the insurance industry that will seek to change the legislation so much as to make it useless, even while publicly agreeing on the need for "reform." We cannot just throw away certain reforms because there's too many other calamities crashing at the same time. Prioritize, yes; single out, no. We have ambition to really get this stuff done out of NEED, not hubris.

Related: There's a health care czar now, too, in addition to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. Her name is Nancy Ann DeParle.

...Umm, that's good rhetoric from the President at the news conference:

Let me close by saying one last thing. I realize that there are those who simply don't believe Washington can bring about this change. And the odds are long. It's failed too many times. There are too many special interests and entrenched lobbyists invested in the status quo.

That's the conventional wisdom, and I understand those doubts. But I also know this: I didn't come to Washington to take the easy route, or to work for the powerful and the well-connected interests who have run this city for too long. I came here to work for the American people. I came here to deliver the sweeping change that they demanded when they went to the polls in November.

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