What would this deal accomplish? The president would show unprecedented “flexibility” vis-a-vis his signature domestic accomplishment, while getting Republicans to join him (finally) in endorsing the principal of universal coverage. (Since Obamacare will leave as many as 25 million people still uncovered, it is possible that many more Americans would become secure against financial ruin from illness under this proposal than under the Affordable Care Act itself).
Republicans can boast of plunging a dagger into the heart of that “evil” Obamacare; of moving states to the forefront of policy innovation, itself a conservative ideal; and of rescuing poor Americans from the clutches of that “second-class” system, Medicaid, because poorer folks would have private catastrophic/preventive plans instead.
A senior fellow at the Center for American Progress and the host of the new podcast “This...Is Interesting,” Miller writes a weekly column for The Post.
In short, this deal walks everyone back from the brink and lets both sides and their allies claim important victories. House Speaker John Boehner and Obama could agree to a “term sheet” now, and pledge to legislate within a few months. Tea party leader Steve King (R-Iowa) told me Tuesday that this kind of deal held promise.
Of course, in Lt. Colombo’s famous mantra, “there’s one more thing” — the debt limit must be scrapped altogether. The president is right: The hostage taking can’t go on. In a sense, Obama would have submitted to “blackmail” one last time to get Republicans on board with universal coverage and to bury the debt limit forever as an instrument of policy. Rightly understood, this would cement the president’s legacy in ways even the unfettered rollout of Obamacare in current form can’t achieve. Meanwhile, in exchange for “slaying” Obamacare, Republicans would agree to have us join the community of nations that views the passage of a budget as authorization for any debt that budget may contain.
In the hothouse of today’s crisis, this deal may be beyond the imagination of those ostensibly in charge. But a few creative lawmakers on each side of the aisle could join to float something like it tomorrow. The alternative, I fear, will be some muddled repeat of 2011, a new chain of pointless fiscal cliffs that further diminishes the United States’ s standing in the world, or worse, an unforgivable but all-too-plausible “Guns of August”-style tumble into catastrophe.
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