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Is Obama maneuvering to get a more conservative health reform bill passed - with his customary calm, bipartisan brand? Sargent wonders what it all means. Ezra notes how many Republican-backed ideas are already in the plan. Marcy Wheeler suspects:

For some time, the White House’s efforts to pass the excise tax barely hid their underlying objective to eliminate tax breaks for employer provided health insurance. So while this is entirely speculative, I do wonder whether Obama is trying to use Republicans to either justify a switch to a different plan, eliminating the tax break, or at the very least, to build pressure for the policy among Democrats.

That might encourage some who are fine with a more moderate bill. I find it all encouraging. I think it shows that Obama is going to keep revealing just how centrist and sensible much of the Senate bill is, move away from ideological histrionics toward specifics and use this process as a way to call Republicans' bluff and Democratic purism in the House as well as explain to the public what is actually in the bill (hint: not socialism).

I should repeat that this is not my ideal health bill; but I do believe that the injustices and cruelties of the current system must not be allowed to continue, that the cost-control measures within it are vital to finding a way to save our fiscal future, and - more importantly - that the blow failure would strike to the entire concept of a workable democratic system would be a boon to cynicism, which rewards the worst and not the best in ourselves.

I opposed the Clinton plan because it was far to the left of this one. I backed the Cooper plan all those years ago because of it. We will not get this chance again, and if we can do it by adding some more good Republican ideas - over and above the many that are already in the bill - that can only help. 

Politically, it seems to me that for independent voters, it's in the interests of the GOP to show they are not merely obstructionist and in the interests of the House Democrats that they are not mere purists. I know I may be being naive here. But if we cannot be naive from time to time in trying to improve the lives - and even save the lives - of our fellow citizens, what point is there in all of this?

(Image: Jake Lewis)

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