Thursday, July 23, 2009

Just Do It

I've been reluctant to delve too deeply into the health care reform debate, mostly because I just haven't kept up with all the ins and outs of the policy details over the years, so I probably don't know what the hell I'm talking about (not that that has ever stopped me before). Better to leave the arguments to people like this, and this dude.

Nonetheless, even though the cat's pretty much already out of the bag in terms of political strategery, here are my thoughts, driven in part by worries over the current stalemate and reactions to Obama's presser last night.

1. Drop the word "reform" from the issue. It sounds too much like "overhaul" and my guess is that's what scares some people, many of whom already have coverage, and provides openings for obstructionists.

2. Focus on the basic goals--expanding access and reducing costs. The first, it seems to me, needs to be addressed by something like a public option, a Medicare-like buy-in. My sense from most polls and political discussion generally is that this is seen by much of the public as a worthwhile objective. The second is related to the first, that the problems of cost are partly a function of higher cost, profit-driven system that's inefficient. Expanding access through a public option could help lower costs.

3. Don't make a big deal of it. Whether in some objective sense the American health care system is in crisis, I'm not sure the public has been so receptive to such an appeal (see: 1994). Leave the alarmism for the conservatives, many of whose concerns have been aptly demonstrated as contradictory.

4. Keep the bill as simple as possible, try to address any reasonable concerns Democratic opponents might have, and if their objections aren't reasonable, subject them to public ridicule. Reach out to certain select Republicans, but since Democrats have large majorities in both houses of Congress, don't fret too much about bipartisanship.

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