Hurtling Toward Crisis

Mark Schmitt has an interesting take on the health care fight:

The reason it feels like a loss is simply that fact, that any sense of movement or possibility in our political institutions — and again, I mean mostly the Senate but not only the Senate — is gone. Getting exactly 60 votes, on an issue where the ground has been prepared, is possible only on rare occasions. That Obama, and Harry Reid and his allies, hit that small target on the single issue that has eluded every progressive president before him is wonderful for both the health-care system, and for those millions who need care, but still, it does not bode well for our political future.

I’ve always argued that Obama viewed his central domestic mission as changing the culture and practice of American politics. The passage of health reform is a revelation of just how desperately that change is needed and how difficult it will be to achieve.

Indeed, I think that during the health care debate you can see the outlines of a growing political crisis in the United States. The go-for-broke tactics used in the health care debate were (and are) annoying to proponents of reform. But obviously the country existed without this bill for a long time and can keep on existing. Think about extending this precedent forward to the time when we need to deal with the budget deficit, however, and things start to look very different. You just can’t deal with the country’s fiscal challenges within the political dynamic that currently exists. There’s no way.