A Needed Reform Descends into Farce

The Democratic leadership is working on the assumption that the party's electoral prospects are best served by passing healthcare reform, whatever it takes. I am for the reform on its merits, but increasingly doubtful about this political rationale. The process has become so toxic--so harmful to the party's standing, and to the president's--that I have come to think that Democrats will likely hurt themselves more by pressing on. So I argue in my new column for the FT, which I wrote by the way before the latest procedural atrocity, "deem and pass".  I'll come back to that shortly.

These [substantive] arguments [in favor of reform] are correct, but there is a problem. The process, not the product, has indeed caused the failure. The trouble is, the process just keeps getting worse.

Unlikely as this seems, confusion continues to deepen. Specialists - let alone ordinary voters - struggle to remember the differences between the Senate bill, the House bill, and the president's unfinished merged proposal. In the last big push to get reform through, using whatever deals, scams, ruses and parliamentary evasions fall to hand, the public and their concerns are pushed ever more to the periphery of Washington's vision.

As I say, I had not anticipated the latest parliamentary evasion. When I wrote, "the process just keeps getting worse," I had not realized how right I was.