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A Blue Dog Whistle

Ezra Klein has a lengthy, thorough response to the arguments that Republican Paul Ryan has made about the Democratic plans for health care reform. According to Ezra, Ryan make a few good points but is mostly wrong. It will shock you, I know, to hear that I agree with Ezra's analysis.

But that's not the reason, or at least the only reason, the article is worth reading. At the end of the article, Ezra reports on an interview he conducted with economist Robert Reischauer:

Robert Reischauer is the head of the Urban Institute. He's also one of the CBO's most revered former directors, in no small part because his relentlessly honest cost estimates helped doom Bill Clinton's bill in 1994. I reached him earlier today and asked whether he thought this bill made fiscal sense. "Were I in Congress and asked to vote on this," he replied, "I'd vote in favor." The bill isn't perfect, he continued, "but it at least has the prospect for creating a platform over which more significant and far-reaching cost containment can be enacted."

Reischauer's credentials as a fiscal hawk are unparalleled in Washington. As Ezra notes, his dour forecasts of potential savings in the Clinton health care plan played a pivotal role in the plan's political fate. And many people--including me--thought those forecasts were far too pessimistic.

So the fact that Reischauer would vote for this bill, even if its imperfect, says a lot about it. Let's hope members of Congress who think of themselves as fiscally conservative are paying attention.