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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Brass Tacks

After the exhausing and endlessly complicated process of developing and reacting health reform legislation, it’s natural to think of the final bill as an unholy mess, full of deals and compromises all but forgotten. But in a fundamental way, the bill is actually something of a thing of–well, not beauty, but certainly impressive craftmanship. Here’s Ezra Klein’s excellent summary of the accomplishment:

This was a hard bill to write. Pairing the largest coverage increase since the Great Society with the most aggressive cost-control effort isn’t easy. And since the cost controls are complicated, while the coverage increase is straightforward, many people don’t believe that the Democrats have done it. But to a degree unmatched in recent legislative history, they have.

Add in the fact that the bill reduces the federal budget deficit (which Republicans didn’t even attempt to do with their own major health care legislation of the last generation, the Medicare prescription drug benefit), and it really does offer something to both liberals and conservatives. And that’s why its opponents are so often resorting to lies (death panels), slurs (claims that the nonpartisan CBO is somehow cooking the books), threats (intimidation of vulnerable members of Congress) and meaningless agitprop (“socialism,” “government takeover of one-sixth of the economy”). We’re now well beyond the point of persuading much of anyone on the merits, but those Members of Congress who vote for this bill have reason to feel proud, for all the agony and sometimes disappointment that has accompanied the process. When you get down to brass tacks, it’s a major accomplishment.

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