The Treatment

Compromise Without a Partner

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Paul Starr, my old boss, wrote the book on the history of health care reform. Literally. He also believes in the virtues of bipartisan compromise. The problem, he writes, is that the Republicans don't:

As the debate over health reform enters its decisive stage, there is a lot of talk about the need for compromise between Democrats and Republicans. That was a sensible point to make in years past when Republicans offered alternatives for reform to compete with Democratic proposals. But this year there are two problems with the idea of bipartisan compromise. The first is that Republicans in Congress have not even made a pretense of offering constructive alternatives. The second is that the Democratic proposals are built around the ideas that Republicans used to favor -- those proposals already are bipartisan compromises. Unfortunately, they are compromises with a Republican Party that no longer exists.

The full essay, from the American Prospect, goes on to list all of the Republican ideas that Democrats have now adopted--and that Republicans now shun. It's worth reading in its entirety, as is Paul's Pulitzer-winning book, The Social Transformation American Medicine.

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