"Hacker and Rajkumar simply consider the policy consequences of a failed attempt at health reform. I think people should consider the political consequences of a failed attempt at health reform. People talk about Colin Powell's Pottery Barn Rule: If you break it, you own it. But there's a partner to that law: Call it the Plumber's Principle. If you hired a plumber to fix your toilet and a week later the problem returned, you'd stop trusting that plumber. If you say you've fixed it, in other words, you own that fix.
"If Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi muscle health reform through Congress, if President Barack Obama signs a bill in the Rose Garden and hands the pen to an ailing Sen. Ted Kennedy, if health reform, in other words, passes with fanfare and attention, Democrats own it. This will not be a quiet accomplishment. They will have told the American people that on this historic day, under this historic administration, they have begun to bend the curve and and tame the insurers and guarantee coverage and generally fix this huge problem that so many before have promised action on but so few have succeeded in tackling.
"And if, 10 years down the road, the plight of the middle class has worsened and cost growth hasn't slowed and the only real difference is that more tax dollars go towards low-income subsidies, Democrats will be blamed for that. Their arguments will have less credibility. Republicans will run ads about "the last time a Democrat told you he could reform American health care."
I think that's a concern that should be kept in mind, but I think a bigger concern for the Dems should be if they do nothing or, perhaps worse yet, manufacture some sort of tepid reform. Again the Obama administration should remember that they were installed to
a) do something...
i) unlike Bush
Either our parties are going to be more concerned at maintaining power or concerned about improving our country. To do the latter requires doing something, and if it fails, well you have to accept the consequences or not run for office.