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Jim Jaffe Headshot

Why Boo A Political Win?

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I'm quite confused about why there's so much bipartisan dissatisfaction with a political system that's functioning so well.

Health reform chugs toward inevitable enactment, following the route that I learned in a civics class some decades ago. The process seems to work and the product, which will slash the number of uninsured Americans to a shadow of what it is now, seems impressive by any standard.

Yet those who call themselves friends of the uninsured are unenthusiastic, with some even suggesting an effort that will do a lot of good should be abandoned simply because it isn't better.

Like every major piece of legislation, it is a compromise. Like most, it will require technical corrections and tweaking as the law of unintended consequences kicks in. But that can be said also about the upcoming financial regulation bill as well. And it will certainly be said of immigration reform when it is ultimately enacted.

Such imperfections come with the territory.

Less than a year after a new President took office, we'll have a new law that makes some significant changes in our health system. It was enacted during a period of incredible economic stress that proved an enduring satisfaction. The proposal was subjected to repeated compromises necessary to bridge differences of opinion within the majority about what would work best.

Of course, no one knows what would work best because we're simply in uncharted territory here. Everyone's making an educated guess and we're hopeful that at least some of those guesses are correct.

Some elements of a truly comprehensive answer, like tort reform, have been ignored because those most supportive of them are apparently unwilling to back a broader strategy that includes them.

As usual in the legislative world, things always look darkest right before dawn, partly because our system has difficulty functioning unless it is confined by a holiday-induced deadline. That's human nature.

So what's the beef?

That the job wasn't done in a month?

That no one got everything he wanted?

That the legislation is imperfect?

Members of Congress have followed their own rules and come up with reforms that seem to satisfy our President and many other Americans, including a very high percentage of those who are now uninsured.

The response from the chattering class is a puzzling rancor.

What do critics want?

A quicker system that provides instant gratification? Do they want one where legislators are quicker to compromise so the process can be expedited or one where they see every issue as a moral principle that defies compromise?

If the civics books are wrong, we should revise them with a new vision of how things work - or should work. I'd like to see that description.