CBO Report Reveals an Un-Radical Health Care Bill

When the souffle cools and health care reform is a signed law whose success will be determined by reality rather than the CBO and judged by historians rather than bloggers, I think one thing that will come into focus is how fundamentally unrevolutionary the bill is. The standard Republican attack is that Democratic health reform is radical, that it "dismantles" the health care system, and that it represents the training wheels on the bicycle of socialism. It's just not so.

As Ezra Klein notes with this graph below (click it), the bill leaves 245 million people -- or roughly 80 percent of the population -- untouched. This is not a new health care system. It's the old health care system, with cuts to Medicare and a small tax on some employer-provided insurance to extend the system to another 30 million people.

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There are good reasons to doubt this bill. From a deficit perspective, it's reasonable to wonder whether the government will find hundreds of billions of dollars of cuts in Medicare. It's reasonable to wonder whether we're doing enough to bend the curve of health inflation. It's reasonable to ask whether the employer subsidy deserves a deeper cut, or perhaps whether the lack of a public option will put millions of lower-middle class Americans in the position of having to buy insurance they have no recourse to afford. But it's not reasonable to object to the bill as an artifact of partisan extremism. As Andrew Sullivan told Ta Nehisi Coates in this Atlantic interview (1:30) "this is not a radical proposal."