Monday, September 14, 2009

With Dems like these . . .

Even now, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) of California is not only skeptical about the specifics of health care reform, she's concerned about the very idea of improving the system. (thanks to reader M.R.)

After Obama's address to a joint session of Congress Wednesday night, Feinstein remained skeptical about the wholesale overhauls to the nation's health care system that Obama contemplates.

"I just find that if you're going to remake a sixth of the American economy, it's very difficult at this time of great economic angst," Feinstein said in an interview with The [San Francisco] Chronicle. [...]

Like her red-state colleagues, Feinstein also worried about creating new automatic spending programs -- known as entitlements -- that would compound an already serious fiscal situation.

"There is real concern over debt and deficits, and whether this bill will create additional entitlements," Feinstein said. "That's important to me and I think it's important to them."

Note that Feinstein isn't staking out this position to satisfy the demands of a conservative electorate or because she's worried about her re-election prospects -- Feinstein's seat, in a very "blue" state, is among the Senate's safest.

No, Feinstein makes comments like these because she believes them.

Her concerns, however, are far from compelling. Obama's proposal, while critically important, does not constitute a "wholesale overhaul" of the nation's health care system. While there may be widespread "economic angst" in the midst of the recession, the measures under consideration won't take effect until 2013, when the recession will be behind us and the "angst" will be less pronounced. And with reform poised to help the economy, the argument doesn't exactly make sense anyway.

As for Feinstein not wanting to create another "entitlement," this is a strikingly conservative way to look at the policy debate. Either Americans should have access to quality, affordable health care or not. President Obama told Congress last week, "In the United States of America, no one should go broke because they get sick." Either Feinstein agrees or she doesn't.

One wonders how Feinstein might be approaching this debate if she had to worry about a primary opponent.

Yglesias: Hanging Together or Hanging Separately on Health Care

If I’m a member of congress, there’s definitely one way of looking at the latest Washington Post numbers that makes a “yes” vote on health reform look dicey. 48 percent approve of Barack Obama’s handling of the issue (32 percent strongly) and 48 percent disapprove (38 percent strongly). Another way of looking at it, however, is that partisan politics is a zero sum game, and it’s a game Obama is clearly winning:


I think this supports the idea that the smartest move, politically, for a nervous Democrat is to hope everyone kind of puts their head down and just plows into the gaps in the defensive line as aggressively as they can. The public has some doubts about the president’s approach, but insofar as this becomes a polarized partisan debate, the Democrats have the bigger half of the country with them.

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