Healthcare Is Note Climate Change

by Brien Jackson

Brian Beutler has the list of 26 Democrats who voted to shut off the reconciliation process to efforts at carbon pricing, and offers the following observation:

With this vote they committed themselves to the idea that climate change legislation should be subject to a filibuster, and their large numbers suggests, perhaps, significant opposition to passing any major reform legislation (read: health care) through reconciliation.

That just doesn’t seem right to me. For one thing, climate legislation a lot of legislators would like to avoid altogether, for the simple reason that there’s little to be gained politically from it. Most of the cost comes up front, and the intended benefit (averting ecological catastrophe) is both well into the future and, if done right, will be something that goes unseen. It’s not the sort of thing the U.S. Senate does a good job of addressing, in other words.

Healthcare is another matter entirely. Most Americans will come into contact with our healthcare, and insurance, system, and be left unsatisfied. And, of course, there are tens of millions of people priced out of the insurance market altogether, and countless others who stand to be left uninsured if they lose their job, an even starker fear in a tme of economic troubles. In other words, there are a lot more people with an interest in healthcare reform than there are with a real interest in climate policy, and a much larger pool of voters who want to see the system reformed now, which means there’s a larger incentive for politicians, especially Democrats, to address healthcare. Ideally you wouldn’t want to pass that sort of package through reconciliation, but I don’t think a desire to get some Republican support for a proposal, or the unwillingness to take riskier political action through the same process, should be confused as an outright unwillingness to use reconiciliation for healthcare reform. Especially since nearly every key player in the equation has specifically left open the possibility.