Monday, December 03, 2007

Wonkin' Out on Obama's Health Plan

That now-ubiquitous figure that Barack Obama's health plan would leave 15 million uninsured? Apparently Jonathan Coen put it out there, and he writes today on how he came up with it, and how he still thinks it's about right.

Slate's Tim Noah argues that's ok, because Obama's plan makes the most sense politically.

Noam Schreiber essentially agrees, but has something in the back of his mind. A doubt, I think:

As I say, this argument comes pretty close to convincing me that Obama has the right approach. On the other hand, it's Obama who tells us that if we want to win the next election, we can't be afraid of losing it. If you accept Cohn's claim that his plan leaves millions of people uninsured, and Noah's claim that it's nonetheless the more politically viable way to structure a non-single-payer plan, then this seems like precisely the kind of overly-cautious thinking Obama was warning us about.

Point taken, but it's also arguably one of those bipartisan situations Obama has been talking about. Major health care reform would be landmark legislation, and if he believes using this approach will achieve a strong plurality in Congress, he may have a case.

I haven't heard him do it, and both Hillary Clinton and John Edwards may have even stronger points when they say a mandate is necessary. But there are a lot of times in politics when two principles come into conflict, and that's one reason ideologues don't get elected president.

No comments: