A Great Day for the Center Right Dems

Indiana’s retiring Democratic Senator Evan Bayh, a spigot for the right center Democratic Leadership Council, is in the New York Times Wednesday morning with the same old same old: DLC  bitching and moaning about liberals of the New Deal stripe, currently referred to as the “far left,’’ and advocating Pete Peterson cool aid. That is, bringing down the deficit by cutting back entitlements, in this instance, indexing Social Security, accompanied by tax cuts:

The most important area for spending restraint is entitlement reform. Democrats should offer changes to the system that would save hundreds of billions of dollars while preserving the safety net for our neediest. For instance, we could introduce “progressive indexation,” which would provide lower cost-of-living increases for more affluent Social Security recipients, or devise a more accurate measure of inflation’s effects on all recipients’ income.

We’ve gone through all this before. People on Social Security can barely make it as it is. This is especially the case for women. You can try to make us work, but there isn’t any work, and when there is, we are discriminated against because of age. All I can think of to say to Bayh, is GO. Vamoose. Take a powder. Leave us alone.

  Bayh and the DLC usually front for the likes of Clinton, Gore and Lieberman. And if this is the first shot in another one of Clinton’s triangulation gimmicks, please tell Bill to get lost.

   Of course, there isn’t any far left in the Democratic Party, or anywhere else on the political scene. Nor is there anything faintly resembling a left. The only possible leftish political tendency that exists is an effort to reinvigorate reforms of the  New Deal, i.e. unemployment insurance. Anything more serious such as removing the Federal Reserve System from ownership and control of the banking industry is nonexistent.

For their part, the Republican conservatives in Congress will do what they always do,hack away at regulations and try to impose limits on Social Security,Medicare and other New Dealsocial welfare programs. In that endeavor they can enlist like minded GOP conservatives. The Wall Street Journal Wednesday carried an op-ed by Holman W. Jenkins,Jr, a member of the paper’s editorial board. He sets  out a plan to gut Obama’s health care legislation by sidestepping it. Jenkins would offer federal charters to insurance companies, allow them to set up catastrophic health care plans, which because they would be less costly than insurance currently available, might  tempt younger, healthy people. At the same time, he would encourage creation of health savings accounts. 

Here is how Jenkins sees things working out:

What’s the first thing the new nationally-chartered insurers would do? Rush out cheap, high-deductible policies, allaying some of the resentment that the mandate provokes among the young, healthy and footloose affluent. At the same time, these policies would quickly re-revolutionize Obama Care from within. Here’s why:

First, these folks could buy the minimalist coverage that (for various reasons) actually makes sense for them. They wouldn’t be forced to buy gold-plated coverage they don’t need so the money can subsidize the old and sick (the hidden tax logic of Obama Care).

Secondly, this relatively healthy cohort would be covered for a rare major injury or illness. The rest of us wouldn’t have to pick up the tab.

Thirdly, and when paired with a health savings account—as would happen as employers large and small rush to take advantage of a better option than Obama Care now affords them—it would provide a much-needed kick of consumer discipline to the medical complex’s pants, which has always been the conservative alternative to a creeping government takeover of medicine.

There’s already a base of sensible Democrats who’ve championed exactly such reforms. And because it can be sold as expanding the options under Obama Care and lessening the burden of an unpopular mandate, a lot of other Democrats (who can read the election returns) might vote for it too. Even more so when they realize it would allow backing off the unaffordable subsidies required to make Obama Care’s individual mandate go down with the public. And the president? The truth is that Mr. Obama is a go-along-to-get-along guy. He did not (like Sarah Palin) rise by bucking his party’s establishment. His one attempt at doing so—his run for Chicago Rep. Bobby Rush’s House seat in 2000—ended in the only personal electoral defeat he’s ever experienced.

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