Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Chance for Major Health Care Reform in Either 2009 or 2010 Is Now Zero

A couple of weeks ago I did a post, The Pretend Presidential Debate on Health Care--The Health Care Press Needs to Force the Presidential Candidates to Get Real on Health Care "Change".

In it I made the point that facing a $500 billion budget deficit next year, the sunset of the Bush tax cuts in 2010, fixing the alternative minimum tax problem once again, and the cost of the Freddie and Fannie bailout, the presidential candidates needed to get real about health care reform. Instead of giving us their rote health care talking points, I said they needed to start telling us how they were really going to deal with health care reform in the face of all of these challenges.

Just when you think things can't get any worse....

Two weeks later you can add the AIG bailout and as much as a $700 billion bailout of the financial system now being considered by the Congress to the reasons why the health care plans of both candidates are no longer relevant.

On top of that $500 billion deficit in 2009, the Congress is now being told it must take on a total of almost $1 trillion in government long-term costs to try to turn the financial system around.

I would suggest that lots of things have changed since each candidate offered their health care reform plan.

Obama's health plan will cost at least $100 billion a year. That's now a non-starter.

McCain's health plan counts on deregulation of the health insurance industry. Do I even need to explain to you why that is a political non-starter in this environment?

I don't know about you, but watching both Obama and McCain I feel like they are living in a parallel universe from the one the rest of us are in. We are living in the midst of the greatest financial crisis to face this country since the Great Depression--the outcome unknown and able to tip either way--and these guys are out there on the hustings as if this is all just another partisan reason to beat up on the other guy. I'm not seeing a lot of leadership here. Instead of making meaningless political speeches in the Heartland, why aren't they on the Hill this week leading their respective party--and the country--to a solution?

These guys have the greatest opportunity of any presidential candidate ever to demonstrate to voters why they should be President by taking their seats in the U.S. Senate and showing us their leadership skills.

On health care, they need to get just as real.

What are their plans to reform health care that actually make sense and can be implemented in the face of all of the things this crisis has changed?
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