Losing the debate before it begins

PHOTO: Heart Monitor

Let’s say you’re about to sell a car. You’ve decided that you can’t part with your wheels for less than $10,000, but you think it could be worth as much as $12,000. When it comes time to post the Craigslist ad for your car, what asking price do you put down?

If your name is Barack Obama, you’ll probably ask for $10,000, get bargained down to $9,000 and end up crying yourself to sleep. At least that’s what Obama is threatening to do with the cause of health care reform.

The default liberal position on health care reform is that we should have a single payer system where the government pays for all medical care, this should decrease costs and expand coverage to all Americans. The default conservative Republican position calls for maintenance of the status quo, because of distrust in big government, or an increased reliance on market competition to further drive down costs.

The White House and so-called liberal Democrats in Congress are pushing for what they are calling a “public option” where a government plan is allowed to compete on the health care market versus private insurers. This is supposed to be a compromise to conservative Republicans that fear blowing up the current system and the health care “market.”

But by compromising in advance of the actual negotiations, Democrats are all but assuring they won’t even get a public option. The “public option” is now defined in the media as the most left/liberal/hippie/socialist position, and so there will be enormous pressure to compromise even further.

So while liberals would love to see a single payer system, they’d be satisfied with a public option. And now, due to inept bargaining tactics, they will likely get neither.

For more on this, read Atrios, Krugman and Yglesias.

Flickr photo by brykmantra


  1. Jordan

    Isn’t the point of being in power to use that power to push through your changes? Hate to say it, but I’m with Mr Maher in thinking the Democrats are compromising too much and need to grow some cojones. “Change we can believe in” has turned to “Change we can believe someone might get around to sometime, you know, but not us.” This is the prime opportunity to push this country forward to join the rest of the world and I don’t see why the Dems are being such babies on everything. I have no qualms with them running roughshod over the Republican party and pushing them even further to the fringes.

  2. Chris

    I think it was Sullivan who dubbed it the “Fierce urgency of whenever.”

  3. Jordan

    Yeah, no kidding. It’s like that really nice, funny lady from Harvard that has been on the Daily Show / Colbert and basically admits how the government doesn’t know where any of the TARP money is and says that no one really care where the rest of the trillions is going nor do they have a way to track it.

    “Should we take this opportunity to re-evaluate how we choose to run our economy and do business?”
    “Nah, we’ll get around to it whenever”
    “Should we really make an effort to push the US forward in actually taking up the mantle of world leader, in ethics, in health, in education?”
    “Um…sure. That’d be cool. Right after America’s Got Talent and Jon and Kate + Hate”