Trouble Upon Closer Inspection

This image is supposed to evoke the phrase the devils in the details.

This image is supposed to evoke the phrase "the devil's in the details."

Ezra Klein, discussing the state of play in health care reform, says this, which is a bit like my bizarre post below:

What else? It’s proving difficult to find consensus on revenues. But that was always going to be true. And if consensus has been elusive, options have been plentiful: There are surtaxes and sin taxes and taxes on health benefits and savings in Medicare and changes to the itemized deduction rules. People can argue about which approach should be preferred. But they cannot argue that no viable approach exists.

Well, when you put it in general terms, finding a funding mechanism for health care seems easy. But the problem is that we’re really not looking for consensus, we’re looking to find a few specific votes in the the Senate. And when you get specific, you get problems. For instance, if Ben Nelson is disinclined to vote for a surtax on rich people because he answers primarily to supremely rich people that’s what not “voters want”, you can always court Susan Collins. But Susan Collins favors the so-called “trigger option” for the public plan, which is expressly not the position of Barack Obama.

To bring things back to my prior post, the assumption that consensus will emerge should not be considered a foregone conclusion because it’s not clear the requisite members of Congress are really on board. As Ezra notes, Obama hasn’t yet really shown his hand, so it’s definitely possible that progressives can summon the requisite level of political pressure, but again, the specifics will still be the problem.

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