Howard Dean makes the leftist case against passing the current incarnation of health care reform legislation. He makes basically the same argument Yuval Levin sketched when he explained why liberals should oppose the legislation.
Doctor Dean explains:
Any measure that expands private insurers’ monopoly over health care and transfers millions of taxpayer dollars to private corporations is not real health-care reform. Real reform would insert competition into insurance markets, force insurers to cut unnecessary administrative expenses and spend health-care dollars caring for people. Real reform would significantly lower costs, improve the delivery of health care and give all Americans a meaningful choice of coverage. The current Senate bill accomplishes none of these.
Real health-care reform is supposed to eliminate discrimination based on preexisting conditions. But the legislation allows insurance companies to charge older Americans up to three times as much as younger Americans, pricing them out of coverage. The bill was supposed to give Americans choices about what kind of system they wanted to enroll in. Instead, it fines Americans if they do not sign up with an insurance company, which may take up to 30 percent of your premium dollars and spend it on CEO salaries — in the range of $20 million a year — and on return on equity for the company’s shareholders. Few Americans will see any benefit until 2014, by which time premiums are likely to have doubled. In short, the winners in this bill are insurance companies; the American taxpayer is about to be fleeced with a bailout in a situation that dwarfs even what happened at AIG. . . .
I have worked for health-care reform all my political life. In my home state of Vermont, we have accomplished universal health care for children younger than 18 and real insurance reform — which not only bans discrimination against preexisting conditions but also prevents insurers from charging outrageous sums for policies as a way of keeping out high-risk people. I know health reform when I see it, and there isn’t much left in the Senate bill. I reluctantly conclude that, as it stands, this bill would do more harm than good to the future of America.
This is a devastating argument from what might be called the left-populist perspective. But left-populism holds little if any sway among Senate Democrats, except on the admittedly frequent occasions when they engage in demagoguery. Senate Dems made their peace with corporate America long ago (and vice versa); that’s why they consistently support corporate bail-outs, especially when accompanied by increased government power over the “bailee.”
Other than perhaps Dean’s follow Vermonter, the Socialist Bernard Sanders, it’s not easy to see Senate liberals balking at this latest instance of that phenomenon.