It’s hard to get much slower

IT’S HARD TO GET MUCH SLOWER…. In July, after four months of debate and discussion, Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) said health care reform advocates were going far too fast. The process, she said, had to be slowed down considerably.

She said the same thing in August. And September. In October, Snowe said it was all still just too speedy, telling Bloomberg, “Christmas might be too soon” to pass a bill.

Yesterday, Snowe was still reaching for the brake.

“The more they try to, sort of, drive this process in an unrealistic timeframe, the more reluctant I become about whether or not this can be doable in this timeframe that we’re talking about,” Snowe told reporters today.

Throughout the health care debate, Snowe has often pushed the principals to slow things down. So what might make her less reluctant?

“There’s always January,” Snowe said.

To follow up on an item from October, Snowe hasn’t quite gotten around to explaining why she’s against moving things forward. Instead, she’s urged policymakers to give reform the “thought it needs and requires.”

That’s pretty vague, to the point that it doesn’t seem to actually mean anything. “There’s always January”? Yes, and there’s always February and March, too. There’s also the next Congress, the next administration, the next decade, and the next generation. It’s the way policymakers have been dealing with this issue for the better part of a century — with no sense of urgency.

Delays for delays’ sake aren’t exactly a recipe for serious policymaking. Congress and the White House have been debating health care reform since about March. It was debated last year during the presidential campaign. It was debated the year before during the presidential primaries. It was debated at length during the Clinton reform effort, which followed previous debates during previous presidents’ efforts.

America has been debating health care reform, off and on, since the days of Harry Truman. The issue has, quite obviously, received the “thought it needs and requires.” It’s time for responsible policymakers to start making decisions, not putting them off until some arbitrary point in the new year.

Dragging this out for the sake of dragging this out seems wildly unnecessary, and more than a little counter-productive.