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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Health Care Convergence

Amidst a lot of general recriminations among Democrats over their inability to force a fundamental change in the Iraq war, and a specific, white-hot controversy over Republican efforts to demonize MoveOn.org, there’s also a growing realization that on one issue, health care, there’s an impressive convergence of views.
With the release of the “coverage” piece of Hillary Clinton’s health care plan earlier this week, it’s now clear the “big three” Democratic candidates for president have very similar approaches, with Edwards’ and Clinton’s plans being notably congruent. And for the most part, Democrats of all stripes are applauding.
Some progressives–e.g., Paul Krugman in today’s New York Times–credit Edwards for helping pressure his rivals into abandoning a timid, incremental approach to health care. Some centrists–e.g., the DLC–praise the Clinton-Edwards-Obama consensus as representing a sensible alternative to an unworkable status quo and to single-payer approaches. Everyone seems to agree that the vast gap between Democratic plans for universal health coverage and Republican advocacy of atavistic efforts to force Americans into individual health insurance or medical services purchasing will give voters an unmistakable choice in 2008.
E.J. Dionne suggests today that the Democratic health care convergence represents a broader Democratic agreement on domestic issues that resolves many of the intraparty arguments of the 1990s. He concludes that “the Democrats’ 2008 struggle is not about how to shape a new consensus but over who can take charge of the one that already exists.”
That’s worth pondering as the nominating contest heats up over the coming weeks.

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