Saturday, June 27, 2009

Gabrielle Giffords and health care. (Almost, but not quite.)

A short digression into Federal issues:

Without explanation, on this 'blog I've characterized 8th District congresswoman Gabrielle "Gabby" Giffords as a non-leftist moderate. I've taken a bit of "heat" about that backchannel from a few movement-libertarian readers.

In Democrat circles, two documents about health care reform have provoked outcry from the far left (the soi disant "progressives"):

  1. A leaked draft memorandum from the >Third Way organization recommending that any "public option"--that's the term now being used on the Left for a government-run health insurance (or insulation) scheme--compete on a level playing field with private insurance and come with a sunset provision. This is still a draft, and not yet an official Third Way position, but we shouldn't expect the final product to be different in spirit.
  2. A statement by the "Blue Dog Coalition" caucus recommending, among other things, that the "public option" be defecit-neutral, compete on equal footing with private schemes, and only be offered if "triggered" by a failure of market reform.

The Blue Dog proposal for a "trigger" is quite interesting, and deserves support, as it would change the terms of the debate for the better. If the "public option" is treated as an experimental fallback in case of reform failure and not, as the "progressives" would have it, a goal in itself, dialog about how to fix the market will naturally follow. That is the discussion we should be having. What is broken, and how do we fix it?

Giffords is a Blue Dog Democrat and an honorary Congressional chairwoman in the Third Way organization. It's reasonably likely that she supports market reforms and a "trigger" for the public option. Yet someone (who will go unnamed) who attended her recent "town hall" meeting on health care reported at the most recent Pima County Libertarian Party meeting that she's a supporter of government-run universal health care.

That's funny. I don't recall hearing anything to that effect during either of her campaigns. And Michael Bryan, apparently back to 'blogging at the far left Blog for Arizona, isn't reading her that way. Libertarian Party or Ron Paul/Mises Institute libertarians, especially of a certain age or educational background, have a peculiar difficulty listening to and understanding people from anywhere else on the political spectrum. (Or even people who largely agree: I've lost count of the number of times old-time or autodidact LP libertarians have taken me to be a "socialist"!)

They ought to slow down and quit concluding that anyone who doesn't speak their code-words is a left-wing extremist. Republicans, too, need to learn to take her for what she is. Building a winning coalition for real health care reform is going to be difficult; writing off Giffords as being solidly on the other side is incorrect and strategically foolish. The "progressives" are trying very hard to convince her and her fellows that only a "no-trigger" public option is acceptable; those of us who prefer fixing the market to destroying the market need to keep her in our camp. Voicing our support for the Blue Dogs' proposed conditions for a public option is a start. If you live in the 8th District, give her office a call at (520) 881-3588 (Metro Tucson), (520) 459-3115 (Cochise County), or (202) 225-2542 (Washington DC).

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