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Why Fiscal Conservatives Should Love the Senate Health Care Bill

If our political landscape were slightly saner, Republicans would embrace this bill with both arms.

BENDING THE PROVERBIAL CURVE.... For some conservatives, including some center-right Democrats, the very point of tackling health care reform is to get health care costs under control. Ezra Klein has a great item today, explaining how the Senate reform bill does just that.

If this piece of the bill was passed on its own, it would be the most important cost control bill ever considered by the United States Congress. But you could never have passed it on its own. You needed the coverage to make the grand bargain work. Republicans like to call this bill a trillion-dollar experiment to expand the health-care system, and in some ways, it is. But it's also a multitrillion-dollar experiment to cut costs in the health-care system, and it deserves credit for that, and support from fiscal conservatives. It's easy to talk about cutting costs, but this is the chance for people to actually do it.

The "grand bargain" is an important concept that often goes overlooked in the debate. For the left, which has been clamoring for health care reform for several generations now, the point of fixing the system is the moral outrage of allowing tens of millions of Americans to go without coverage. The uninsured are one serious illness away from bankruptcy, or one layoff away from family peril, and progressives have long demanded a remedy.

For the right, the principal reason to even entertain the possibility of reform is fiscal -- conservatives are worried about spiraling costs and massive deficits.

 

Steve Benen is "blogger in chief" of the popular Washington Monthly online blog, Political Animal. His background includes publishing The Carpetbagger Report, and writing for a variety of publications, including Talking Points Memo, The American Prospect, the Huffington Post, and The Guardian. He has also appeared on NPR's "Talk of the Nation," MSNBC's "Rachel Maddow Show," Air America Radio's "Sam Seder Show," and XM Radio's "POTUS '08."