A pair of Megan McArdle posts underline an interesting political dynamic which is applying itself to the various health care reform bills percolating in the congress.
Meanwhile, it’s increasingly likely that subsidies provided for people to buy private insurance will only pay for plans which do not include abortion. (Putting pro-choice Democrats in the amusing position of arguing that this would be an excessive and unnatural distortion of the private insurance market. Not often do Ayn Rand and Nancy Pelosi embrace.)
Why are the health care reform bills increasingly tilting conservative, even after Republicans have largely walked out of the process? It’s actually pretty natural. Hard left members of congress are unlikely to vote against the health care reform bill no matter what, since it’s the cornerstone of what they want Obama to achieve in his first term. Any bill with “health care” in the title and President Obama’s signature on it will meet their basic approval criteria.
This means that all the power on the direction of the debate is on the side of the blue dog Democrats who may choose to drop off the right side of the coalition. Thus, it’s likely that nearly all the changes we’ll see in the bills on the table at this point will be in a more conservative direction, as mainstream Dems try to make sure that the Blue Dogs stay on board. And the potential failure point for the bill as a whole comes if through this process the bill becomes so watered down that the left end of the coalition loses interest in the bill.