The Hill has an encouraging article today, quoting several prominent members of Congress--and Clinton/Obama surrogates--acknowledging that Democrats likely won't be able to find the money or support to enact sweeping health care legislation if one of the two Democratic candidates is elected. Both plans were descriped by members as being too ambitious and costly to have a realistic chance of passage.
Among the comments:
"We all know there is not enough money to do all this stuff," said Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), a Finance Committee member and an Obama supporter, referring to the presidential candidates' healthcare plans. "What they are doing is ... laying out their ambitions."
Sen. Charles Schumer (N.Y.), a member of Senate Democratic leadership and a key Hillary Clinton ally who also sits on the Finance Committee, said he is "not sure we have the big plan on healthcare."
"Healthcare I feel strongly about, but I am not sure that we're ready for a major national healthcare plan," Schumer said.
Rep. Kendrick Meek (D-Fla.), a Clinton supporter who sits on the House Ways and Means Committee, said "the money is not necessarily there right now" to enact the plans and said calls to end the war in Iraq might consume Washington's attention. The healthcare proposals are a "really good start," he said, but any promises that the next Congress would enact the healthcare plans "at even the beginning of next year to mid-next year would really be political talk at this point.
"I hear on the campaign trail, 'This is what I'm going to do,' as if there is not a Congress here with feelings and experience on this issue," Meek said. "I think it's important that everyone takes that into consideration and that this is not a kingdom, this is a democracy."
Democrats will likely take a more incremental approach, such as a renewed push to enact S-CHIP. But this speaks to one of the positive aspects of a bicameral republican government that our founders created -- that it's really difficult to make any big, transformational changes in one fell swoop. This aspect of our system hinders conservatives' attempts to reign in the excesses of the welfare state, or to reform entitlements as we saw with the Social Security personal accounts debacle, but it also makes it easier to stop really bad things from happening when a liberal Democratic president comes to town with a Democratic Congressional majority.
Via Matt Yglesias, who is "disappointed."
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