The Hill Reports on Congressional Views of Healthcare Reform

This report from The Hill comes as no surprise considering that I agree with Bruce Bartlett’s predictions with regards to taxes as quoted here. Bartlett predicted that we will not see major tax increases. One consequence is that we are also unlikely to see a universal health plan pass Congress. The Hill reports:

Congressional Democrats are backing away from healthcare reform promises made by their two presidential candidates, saying that even if their party controls the White House and Congress, sweeping change will be difficult.

It is still seven months before Election Day, but already senior Democrats are maneuvering to lower public expectations on the key policy issue.

In the back of their minds is the damage done to President Bush’s second term by his failed attempts to change the nation’s Social Security policy.

For some senators, the promises made by Sens. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) outside of Washington may not match the political reality on Capitol Hill.

“We all know there is not enough money to do all this stuff,” said Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), a Finance Committee member and an Obama supporter, referring to the presidential candidates’ healthcare plans. “What they are doing is … laying out their ambitions.”

Understandably many on the left are disappointed by this prediction. This will please many of the independents, conservatives, and libertarians who support Obama for his positions on foreign policy, civil liberties, and social issues but are wary of big government programs. My suspicion all along has been that at most we will wind up with a simpler but more affordable plan such as what John Kerry proposed during the 2004 campaign. Successful attempts at changing health care in the past have been incremental and the dynamics which caused this are not likely to change overnight.

A mandatory plan such as proposed by Hillary Clinton is a non-starter, with most Congressional Democrats probably realizing that to propose this would cause them to suffer the same fate as the Congressional Democrats faced the last time Clinton tried to push through an over-reaching health care plan.

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