David Wessel's piece in today's Wall Street Journal is a case study in political fecklessness. Wishing something were true is a job for my seven year old and the pony she covets. Adults realize there are tradeoffs in every difficult task, and health care reform is no exception. He begins with the following:
"The initial idea was logical: Cover nearly everyone and control the rise in health costs."
Actually, the sentence itself is completely illogical. You don't get something for nothing. Universal coverage, as we have seen in Massachusetts, doesn't just lead to higher prices, it sends them to the stratosphere. What's left unsaid is if we cover everyone and institute price controls to cap costs, quality invariably suffers.
As Americans, we take for granted the miracle that is modern medicine. A friend routinely complains of high health care costs as he drives his BMW to his 5,000 square foot house. Life spans increased (and continue to increase) due solely to medical innovation; innovation that will come to a screeching halt under the current reform plan. The president told Time's Joe Klein the reason Americans were so opposed to the plan was too much of a focus on the sausage making that is the beltway political process (even though he previously said transparency during the process is paramount). He still doesn't get it. It wasn't the process, it was the result. My friend notwithstanding, most of us figured out we'd rather pay more and live than pay less and die. It's that simple.