Health Care: What's the Big Rush?

Centrist Democrats are asking Reid for more time:

A group of centrist Democratic senators, who could determine the fate of the major health care legislation, sent a letter Tuesday to the majority leader, Harry Reid, Democrat of Nevada, urging that the public be given at least 72 hours to review the legislation before debate begins on the Senate floor.

The group of centrists, led by Senator Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas, who is a member of the Finance Committee, told Mr. Reid that they were echoing complaints from constituents -- "many are frustrated and lacking accurate information on the emerging proposals in Congress," they wrote.

Jonathan Zasloff's interpretation:

Blanche Lincoln and anti-health reform Dems (and Joe) to Harry Reid:

Please give the insurance and Pharma lobbyists more time to tear down the Senate health care bill.

Because you know what's deeply problematic in a democracy?  Allowing opposing sides time to make their views known to voters.  What a principaled politician would be doing is ramming this bill through before constituents have any time to absorb the contents, since they might find out they don't support it.  Let's keep our eyes on the greater good here. 

At least when Republicans did this, they argued that Saddam Hussein might develop WMD any day.  They were completely and totally wrong, of course.  But military threats actually can be urgent.  We're talking about a bill that doesn't take effect until 2013, the better to game the CBO's scoring rules, and evade any negative electoral consequences for Obama.  There's really no excuse for running it through the congress at breakneck speed--except that you believe that if voters have time to consider it, they maybe won't like it.

The voters will, of course, have plenty of time to act on any dislike of the new program.  So what the advocates of speed at any cost are seem to be trying to do is shield moderate politicians from the possible knowledge that their constituents hate it--to keep them from acting in the best interests of the people who elected them.  The moderate politicians know this, and aren't willing to [betray their constituents/risk their own political necks on this bill].

Deliberation is how democracy is supposed to work.  No matter how pressingly awesome you hope your bill is, there is really no excuse for demanding that the Senate vote on it before the public has a chance to find out what's in it.  No matter how you couch it in complaints about insidious lobbyists, it isn't the lobbyists who are making a naked grab for undemocratic power here.