David Brooks—Sinking Into the Mire with Health reform

Posted by Kendall Harmon

On Monday, the White House made another compromise. On the surface, it seems mundane. The imposition of the excise tax will be delayed until 2018, and the threshold at which the tax kicks in will be raised. In reality, the delay turns the tax into another Washington gimmick. Lord, give me virtue, but not yet.

The odds are high that the excise tax will never actually happen. There is no reason to think that the Congress of 2018 will be any braver than the Congress of today. It will probably get around the pay-go rules or whatever else might apply and it’ll postpone the tax again. The excise tax will turn into another “doc fix.” This is a mythical provision in which doctors are always about to get their reimbursements cut. But somehow they never do because the cuts are always pushed back, year after year.

So we’ve sunk another level in our tawdry tale. The White House, to its enormous credit, has tried to think about the long term. But it has been dragged ever lower into the mire by Congressional special interests that are parochial in the extreme.

This bill may be deficit-neutral on paper. But it has just become a fiscal time bomb. The revenue will never come. Compromises have to be made to keep it (barely) alive. But responsibility ebbs. Politics wins.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack ObamaSenate

Posted February 24, 2010 at 6:39 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

1. Br. Michael wrote:

In other words same old, same old.  At least until the economy actually does collapse and makes the 1930’s looks like a picnic.

February 24, 8:13 am | [comment link]
2. J. Champlin wrote:

Thank you, Kendall, for following David Brooks—and for posting this article.  Brooks recognizes that what was at stake is important (the tenses are mixed deliberately; it’s still important, but the current effort is corrupt past redemption), and gives an elegant synopsis of what’s gone wrong.  There is no comfort for either party in this story—it is abject failure and institutional collapse.  The Time article a little further down does a beautiful job of describing the Republican contribution to all this, but unfortunately leaves out the utterly cynical, short-sighted and corrupt Democratic deal-making (although God knows the Republicans had their turn at it in the early Bush years).  FWIW, I’m a (not) proud Democrat.

February 24, 5:22 pm | [comment link]
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