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Sunday, July 12, 2009

Another Roadblock to Health Care Reform

They call the legislative process making sausage. That's because the sausage making process is often messy and ugly and the legislative making process no less messy or ugly. Unlike the process of making sausage, the legislative process unfolds in front of us. The latest ugly part of the sausage making process occurred on the Sunday talk shows.

Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) signaled on Sunday that Senate Democrats were not on board with a plan outlined by House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) that would levy a tax on the rich to fund President Barack Obama's health care overhaul.

"I think we're going to have a different approach," Durbin said on ABC's "This Week," adding that he was in favor of a package of cuts to the current health care system combined with new streams of revenue.

Here's a nickel's worth of free advice for the Democrats. I suggest they choose a tax to raise and a medical service to cut and go with it. Health care reform is going to cost A LOT. There's only three ways to pay for it: borrow, tax, or cut medical services somewhere else.

All of this back and forth between the Democrats about which tax to raise and which medical service to cut makes it seem as though that is a realization they haven't come to yet. If a tax on the really wealthy isn't politically tennable, then frankly, nothing is.

The Democrats can try, as Durbin put, to find a "package of cuts" to the current system and "a new revenue stream" but that's just code for raising taxing and cutting medical service. As that now infamous saying goes, you can put lipstick on a pig but it's still a pig.

The Democrats can use all the euphemisms they want. Three things won't change. Their health care overhaul will cost...A LOT. The only way to pay for it is to borrow, tax or cut medical spending elsewhere. Since borrowing anymore isn't an option, the Democrats will need to find a tax to raise and service to cut and go with it.

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