Slippery Slopes, For Good And Ill

by Patrick Appel

Mark Thompson sighs:

So, it appears that the political Right [was] in a tizzy [yesterday] morning about this Rasmussen poll.  Apparently it shows that Americans overwhelmingly oppose Obamacare, and independents oppose it by a 3-1 margin.  Or something.  One problem: whatever problems I may have with Obamacare (and I’ve made clear that I’ve got a lot), it is definitively not a single payer plan, which is not even remotely on the table at the moment.  Yeah, I know, slippery slopes and all of that – but this would just seem to be proof that the slope will not, in fact, slip.  Which is pretty much exactly why I’m opposed to Obamacare – our existing system is bad enough as it is; that it doubles down on the combination that ensures our system represents the worst of socialism and capitalism with relatively few of the benefits of either is reason enough to oppose it without demagoging it as something that it is not.

The Obama plan doesn't do enough to control costs but getting more Americans coverage isn't nothing. Ezra Klein argues the getting everyone covered must happen before cost control is politically possible:

Reformers in Massachusetts would have told you then, and will tell you now, that creating a near-universal right to coverage was a necessary first step in building the political will for true cost controls. For Samuelson to argue against a Massachusetts-style reform plan on the grounds that he would like us to move away from fee-for-service is to be truly hostile to the evidence. Of the 49 states that have not implemented a Mass-style reform plan, none of them are moving away from fee-for-service. Conversely, the one state that has passed a Mass-style plan is moving quickly to attack fee-for-service.

National politics and state politics are different beasts, but I hope Ezra is right. It's very difficult to definitively show how proposed legislation will impact future legislation (the Avent-Manzi global warming debate proved that much).