Saturday, December 19, 2009

What Would Teddy Think?

The senate's ongoing, debilitating negotiations with (read: obeisance to) anti-reformers like Joe Lieberman and Ben Nelson has seen a potentially strong health care bill steadily chipped and whittled away by compromises both material and moral. In the process, staunch, vocal reform advocates like Howard Dean are saying to kill what the bill has become and start over through reconciliation, while staunch, vocal reform advocates like Anthony Weiner and Tom Harkin are saying to work with and build on what they've got.

Given that these are all voices I respect on this issue, it's hard not to be left feeling a little bit whiplashed (hopefully that doesn't count as a pre-existing condition). Through it all however, the one question that's been continually on my mind has been that of the late Ted Kennedy's hypothetical vote. Kennedy, whose lifelong pursuit of meaningful reform remained tantalizingly out of reach, famously said after some very, very close calls that the "perfect" shouldn't become the enemy of the "good."

So how "good" would he think things are right now? Although we'll never get a definitive answer to that, we may have gotten one that's as close to definitive as possible thanks to this op-ed penned by Kennedy's widow, Vicki. Mrs. Kennedy makes the case that this bill, as damaged as it may well be, would still be enough of an improvement on the status quo that it's worth supporting. I'm still unsure of where I stand on this, but I have to admit that as far as affirmative arguments go, this is a pretty compelling one.

1 comment:

Geoff Gibson said...

Zaki, I think the problem is that the bill and the debate don't address the real issue -- its not access to healthcare or delivery its PAYMENT. Short of Federally Subsidized payment of all healthcare no reform will really happen until the insurance industry is addressed. It is the only business in this country that unregulated. Want to fix payment for healthcare here are two easy ways: (1) remove the anti-trust exemption enjoyed by Insurance Companies; (2) Regulate them with coverage mandates. Do those two things and the impact on tax payers should be minimial. The insurance industry will suffer but where will they go?