Sheldon Richman makes the case that health care reform is far from dead, in spite of last week’s election results in Massachusetts. Why? Because the ideologues on Capital Hill will not suddenly see the light and recognize their desire to micromanage the delivery of medical care and health insurance as the gross infringement of liberty that it is, rather they will just change their approach in accomplishing their ends.
It’s simple: In place of 2,000-page omnibus monstrosities, we are likely to see a series of micro “reforms” — that is, government interventions — that may well garner bipartisan support. The new buzzword on Capitol Hill is “incrementalism.” This is a strategy to break the big House and Senate bills into several small ones — to slice the salami into manageable portions. Instead of one 2,000-page piece of legislation, we might see ten 200-pagers, or perhaps 100 20-pagers.
Instead we’ll probably see bills that embody most of the elements of President Obama’s, Speaker Pelosi’s, and Majority Leader Reid’s proposals. But since the series of small bills won’t look like an overambitious program to reinvent 16 percent of the U.S. economy in one unreadable fell swoop, much of the congressional opposition could be defused. Its previous talking points and photo ops regarding legislation that stacks three feet high will be useless.
So beware of “small, bi-partisan” ideas regarding health care we may see coming out of DC. Remember that the flaws in the current health care system are a result of a series of previous government interventions. Future interventions, no matter how small they may appear, will only lead to more interventions. Over the course of several years, we’ll find ourselves trapped in a government-run system wondering what happened.
Folks who have so vigorously opposed the mammoth proposals need to keep up the intensity in opposing future “incremental” changes – because we know what their endgame is.