The Tale of the Two Jonathans -- Chait and Cohn

Their two recent health care columns and Scott Brown here and here, are, nice and gentle and well, little-girl-like-naive.

First, each have done their own cheer leading for the Pagan god of health care reform inside the Dem cognoscenti — to the point of gloating that those inside the Democratic party that wanted to wait to do health care later were defeated by the White House and the Speaker’s office.

What could go wrong with radical health care reform, right?

Dems control both Houses of Congress and the White House — just like in 1994.

And their lack of basic, fundamental, real, serious and detailed knowledge of the politics of health care reform are shockingly and very destructive to their pals in Congress. (I wonder, have either of them ever passed a bill in Congress?) Here is Cohn’s advice:

I know, I know–it’s politics, not policy, that would determine how Congress reacts to a Coakley loss. But Democrats from both ideological sides ought to consider whether voting against it now really spares them political blow-back. All of them have already voted for a health care bill. And that means they can expect one of the following two advertisements this fall:

Candidate X is an out-of-touch liberal who voted for the horrible health care reform bill that passed.

Candidate X is an out-of-touch liberal who voted for the horrible health care reform bill that almost passed.

It seems to me the two ads would be equally effective, unless Democrats can counter it by touting the benefits of reform–by reminding voters that, in the future, they won’t have to worry that insurance will run out when they get sick, that they’ll be able to have a binding appeal when insurers deny coverage, that they’ll be guaranteed emergency room coverage without prior approval, that they’ll be able to change jobs worrying about losing insurance, and so on.

But the only way to make that argument is to pass health care reform.

Cohn says that if you voted for the bill the first time on the floor you should vote for it again because if you vote no you will still get criticized for it. Uh, huh. This line of argument willfully ignores the fact that the public (conservatives, liberals and independent voters HATE this bill) and being able to say, “I voted for it the first time, and oh boy, did I ever hear from my voters. I LISTENED and voted against it at the earliest possible moment.” This will help deflate voters concerns, as opposed to enrage an already angry electorate, which Cohn advocates.

He is grasping at straws trying to tell Dem Representatives that voting for something the public and swing voters hate will cause you less political damage than if you vote against what they hate. It shows an unbelievable naivety with regard to health care politics, specifically, and electoral politics generally.

Chait, meanwhile recommends, if Brown wins: 1) hurrying and amending the House bill on the Senate floor, pass it and send it to the Senate where they can pass it before Brown is seated; 2) reboot with reconciliation; 3) go to Sen. Snowe or:

Obviously, the alternative is option 4: Crawl into a hole and die. Now, the Republican mantra is that we should kill this bill and “start over.” But the truth is, there isn’t and has never been a real Republican plan on the table to deal with, and even the conservative plans that Republicans haven’t embraced are unworkable or do nothing. So walking away means admitting you did nothing on the issue that consumed most of your time, and wait for your November beating as a failed Congress running with a failed president.

Chait, like Cohn, does not understand what Rep. Barney Frank and George Stephanopolous understand — the political costs are too high to pass the bill. Plain and simple. The cram-it-down-Americans-throats strategy and the Dem-only bill strategy had failed politically. Not talking to or having Republican support meant that the worst urges of the Dems could not be controlled — making the bill a big fat target — yes, just like the LZ 129 Hindenburg.

The political costs of cutting Medicare, raising taxes on the middle class health plans, taking over all health insurance policy design, funding taxpayer abortions, allowing or not allowing illegals get the benefit, spending $2.5 trillion, having a public option or a Medicare buy-in, then nothing at all — in the midst of blithely ignoring the 10% unemployment and an sputtering economy and that the number one concern of the public is not health care its the economy and the deficit and the debt — in the face of Senator-health-care-reform’s-seat being challenged with such clarity and purpose of the full-throated-cry by the vox populi — with one single message: kill health care — is too much for even the true believers in Congress (who need to be elected in November) to ignore.

Perhaps simple terms are better for the two Jonathan’s: you are trying to hunt with a dog that won’t.

But Cohn and Chait, are skipping their way through a health care political illusion that never was true, that they tried to make true, while ignoring the piling evidence to the contrary, and are now finding it hard to try and make others ignore what they have so studiously ignored, for so long.

But they are the best the Dems have — their go-to guys on health care.

Now, they are hurt and shocked and angry that elected Members of Congress will not willfully ignore the toxic political nature of ObamaCare. But hey, they can still call the Speaker and the President — who are proudly leading the Jonestown Kool-Aid brigade.

Drink on! Drink on! Paradise awaits!