05 May 2009

They're like the Code Pink of Health Care

Or the Ron Paulites of Insurance, if you will.

Order in the Senate! Single-Payer Advocates Disrupt Hearing - Health Blog - WSJ
Advocates of single-payer health care are getting feisty!

Eight of them caused a scene at the start of a health-care hearing of the Senate Finance Committee today, getting up one by one and complaining that nobody who shared their view was getting a voice, as Dow Jones Newswires describes it. They were able to continue their interruptions because they were staggered throughout the room. Just as one was escorted out by the police, another would chime in.
You know, I'm sympathetic to these guys, I really am. And I think they represent a useful voice on the left to keep the politicians from hewing completely to the center-right.   But this is just dumb, and not helpful.

This goes back to my earlier post today about irrelevance, and being able and willing to make compromises.  Inflexible zealotry and dogmatism don't get much accomplished.  A superficial surveillance of the political landscape today shows that if Single Payer is your thing, then you've already lost.  There's no support for it, and even active antipathy towards it from your ideological allies, never mind your enemies.  Being louder and more obnoxious does not advance your cause, and if anything, it further marginalizes you as an unserious participant in the negotiations.

A better strategy would be for PNHP to pivot to full-throated advocacy for a robust public option plan with built-in advantages over private insurance.  Not my preference, BTW, but an achievable political goal in line with their ideological principles.  But these idiots squander their standing and their political muscle, such as it is, by insisting on the impossible.


JimII said...

Why do you think they are not helpful? I think the anti-war demonstrations helped keep the discussion on target the same way anti-choice demonstrations affect that conversation.

shadowfax said...

Because the time is now, it's happening now, and they have or had a certain stature within the health policy community. They could have been players. If PHNP (and the other single-payer zealots) were willing to "compromise" and throw their weight behind the reform bill in return for, say, a strong public plan option, it would have something of a Nixon-to-China effect.

As it is they are losing credibility and wasting political capital while failing to move the ball down the field (if I may mix my metaphors).