Thursday, December 24, 2009

Don't worry about healthcare polls

It should be no surprise that currently healthcare is polling really low. Republicans can pick any item and exaggerate it's importance as a reason to be against the bill. They can state they want to help with various problems, but "we should start over".

In addition, more left leaning democrats can pick any item that they wish were included and use it as a reason to be against the bill. No public option? No single payer?
Or even policy differences like Taxing high cost health care (union benefits) versus higher income individuals.

So there is a political incentive to make your criticism large enough to not support the bill.

If you are on the Right, it's a free ride because nothing you say really matters anyway. Your side has no power and no responsibility. It's all political.

If you are on the Left, it's a good time to try to force changes in the bill by being the "squeaky wheel". You can pull your own version of the "Nelson" or "Lieberman" and withhold support until your concerns are dealt with.

But all of that changes if the bill becomes law!

At that point, Democrats not only get to own the negative aspects but also the benefits of the bill. Democrats who supported reform get to agree with the criticisms and say, "you're correct, we should come together and try to fix that to make healthcare work even better".

Right now, whenever democrats agree with a critique they have to address it, but doing so puts tension on a finely calibrated deal between different wings of the party. But after the bill is law, any idea is prospective and can be agreed to in theory.

So when Republicans say, the bill busts the budget, "we should come together on a bipartisan basis to address that and other budget issues, but we shouldn't throw out the baby with the bathwater. We shouldn't take away mammograms from young women."

It's too dangerous for Democrats to deal with all the loose threads right now because the sweater could fall apart. But once President Obama signs this historic healthcare legislation, that should be the day Democrats work with our side and the Republicans to make it better.

Our message will be:

Keep the benefits, make the system stronger for 2010!

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