Congress should return from its prolonged recess and pass a tax cut for the middle class and a jobs tax credit for small business, and should return after the election to rewrite a healthcare bill that has severe problems that must be addressed.
It is no secret that I have vehemently disagreed with much of the current political strategy of Democrats. In public columns and private memos to senior Democrats I wrote that it was absurd and out of touch with main-street America to hail "recovery summer" when for so many Americans the recession continues in their real-life worlds.
Similarly the healthcare bill was not a great progressive or money-saving achievement. It was a hodge-podge bill, largely written by lobbyists and insiders, with key points usually negotiated behind closed doors. The "product" is filled with Rube Goldberg contraptions, most of which do not go into effect until after the next election, and until after the next election after that.
Who ever heard of a bill that does not go into effect until after the next two elections?
The healthcare bill was eerily and factually reminiscent of the healthcare bill proposed by President Richard Nixon in the early 1970s, with refinements added by the lobbyist-dominated culture of Washington today.
Is it any wonder that the American people do not understand it? The bill is incomprehensible, in fact. Instead of having a real debate between a liberal vision of healthcare and a conservative vision of healthcare, the debate surrounding the bill became a warped distortion of true liberalism, for a proposal that was not even remotely truly liberal, versus a distortion of true conservatism, with opponents who never offered anything remotely resembling a comprehensive healthcare proposal based on true conservativism.
Plan A would have involved an authentic clash of competing ideas from the left and right, with one side winning. Plan B would have involved an authentic clash of competing ideas, with some rational compromise taking valid points from both in a final compromise. Instead, the result was Plan C, the worst of both parties, the worst of all sides, an illegitimate child of a corrupted system which left true liberals depressed, true conservatives offended, average Americans baffled, and both large and small business uncertain about its effects, which only hurts the economy.
The Democrats have finally realized that their "recovery summer" campaign spin was ludicrous. Praise the Lord! The Democrats are learning the hard way that their great self-praise for their great achievements will not work in a nation where, according to Gallup, only 11 percent has confidence in the Congress.
The Republicans are even more unpopular than the Democrats, which will certainly limit whatever gains they will achieve, compared to what they could have achieved if their credibility had risen above their current rock-bottom levels.
What would be good for the world would be for everyone to join the kind of healthcare debate the importance of the issue demands, with a result that is far better than what was done earlier this year.
While I may look like I am going rogue today with this view, ladies and gentleman, I will not be looking rogue in December when the deficit commission begins a huge debate about how to cut the deficit. By December it will become crystal clear that healthcare must be part of any deficit reduction, and will HAVE to be revisited.
It is ridiculous, unacceptable, and politically and fiscally untenable to have a healthcare plan that does not reduce the deficit a dime for the next 10 years!!
Let me repeat this for emphasis: when the president and Congress turn their attention to the deficit when the commission reports in December, it will then be obvious to all that a healthcare law that does not reduce the deficit for a decade will have to be revisited.
It is bad for the national economy to have a healthcare law that creates so much uncertainty that neither small business nor big business can make rational calculations about their healthcare costs, under a healthcare contraption that will not seriously go into effect until two more national elections have passed.
My personal view is that the best outcome would include one element that would be widely supported by true liberals — either an expanded Medicare or strong public option — and one element that would be widely supported by true conservatives: major competition and cost-cutting that would clearly lower the healthcare costs to business and lower the budget deficit.
My advice to any Democrat, and any Republican, who is not owned by industry money or driven by extremist ideology or obstruction, is to run in the current campaign on a healthcare platform that makes sense rather than applauding the highly unpopular status quo, or opposing any healthcare reform, which means preserving the status quo.
Let’s have a real debate. Let’s have real reform. Let’s put aside all the myths, all the spin, and all the self-praise of politicians who have lost the trust of the American people.
I know this would be unpleasant but the current situation is a fiasco. In December when it comes time to cut the deficit, it will be clear that saving money from an irrational healthcare system is a fiscal and healthcare imperative that cannot wait until after the next election, and after the next election after that, or be put like an unsavory meal on the plate of the next generation. They deserve far better from us.