Monday, February 22, 2010

Doubling Down on Health Care

With the American people clamoring for legislation to do something about jobs and the economy, the decision by Obama, Pelosi, and Reid again to move health care to the front pages is utterly baffling. Prudence would have dictated, at the very least, doing something on the jobs front and claiming victory before moving back to health care. Instead, holding a hand of 15 and seeing the dealer's face card, they have decided to double down.

The changes outlined by the President on his website today will increase the cost of the bill, possibly by as much as $200 billion. That being the case, and assuming that some Democrats retain some vestiges of fiscal sanity, it is not completely clear that they will be able to pass a bill even using the reconciliation process. If they do, it will be at the cost of considerable public ire on legislation that promises benefits that will not begin until 2013. Thus, the clear political and fiscal cost is frontloaded, and the theoretical benefits are out in the future.

In California last week, I was asked what I thought would happen this year with health care reform. I responded that I did not believe that the Democrats would go on a suicide mission. I guess we shall see.


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