Obama’s Healthcare Plan Revisited

OBAMA’S HEALTHCARE PLAN REVISITED….Ezra Klein has taken a closer look at Barack Obama’s new healthcare proposal and finds himself unable to work up much enthusiasm for it:

His is a plan of almosts. It is almost universal, without quite having the mechanisms to ensure nationwide coverage. It almost offers a public insurance option capable of serving as the seed of single-payer, but it is unclear who can enroll in it, and talks with his advisors suggest little enthusiasm or expectation that it will serve as a shining alternative to private insurance. It almost takes on the insurance industry, but asks for, rather than compels, their participation.

….All the ingredients are in place for this to be a great plan — a public insurance component, a commitment to universality, an understanding that coherence is better than fractiousness, a willingness to regulate the insurance industry — but, in each case, at the last second, the policy is hedged before the fulfillment of its purpose. In this, Obama’s plan is not dissimilar from Obama himself — filled with obvious talent and undeniable appeal, sold with stunning rhetoric and grand hopes, but never quite delivering on the promises and potential.

Obama’s voting record shows him to be, possibly, the most liberal of the three main Democratic candidates. But his record also shows him to be a very cautious liberal. This is not necessarily a bad thing: the time he’s spent in the trenches doing community organizing and then as a state legislator seems to have taught him that there are no easy answers; that political coalitions are hard to build; and that real progress often requires a slow but steady approach. He may even be right about that. Certainly I’m no revolutionary myself. Still, sometimes audacity requires audacity. Hope isn’t always enough.