Why the Two Parties Just Don't Agree on Health Care

The bipartisan summit is going on right now. You can watch it in a little picture box I've embedded after the jump. The president said he wants "for everybody to focus on not just where we differ but focus on where we agree, because there actually is significant agreement on a host of issues."

The points of agreement between Republicans and Democrats do not really matter. Look at it this way: Democrats want to massively extend health care by providing hundreds of billions of dollars of subsidies to low-income Americans over the next ten years, and that will require recouping money with new taxes and Medicare cuts. That's where they're coming from. Republicans say they want a whole new bill that somehow reduces health care costs. Also they'd like to cut taxes. That's where they're coming from. It's a completely different approach to health care reform, and taxes, and government.

So yes, both sides think that insurers should enter into interstate compacts, and other items. That's wonderful, but it doesn't matter. It's like saying Keynesians and Hayekians agree that unemployment insurance is important. That's nice if they do, but it doesn't come close to resolving any larger debate.

Also I wanted to give a shout out to this point by Ezra Klein, because he's making a bunch of sense about what happens after health care day camp is over:

There's no political upside in starting over. The right will still cry "death panels!" and let loose the dogs of tea, and the left will savage them for failing to pass health-care reform despite controlling the second-largest congressional majority since the 70s. There's a policy argument here in that a fallback plan will cover more people than no plan will cover, but if covering people is what the Democrats want to do, they'll pass the comprehensive plan, which both covers more people and actually gives them a major accomplishment.

At this point, health-care reform either passes or it dies. Democrats are all in on this one. They know it, Republicans know it, and maybe more importantly, they know the Republicans know it. Letting health-care reform fail is indistinguishable from conceding the 2010 election. There's no real fallback plan. If Democrats fall back, they fall.

Here's the video: