Yet again the Seattle Times editorial board has strongly urged Congress and/or the President to drop health care reform, focus on other issues, and start over from scratch. And yet again the Times has attempted to cover their motives with the following caveat:
For years, this newspaper has favored health care reform. We still favor it, done at the right time and in the right way.
Yeah, well, forgive my cynicism, but I’m not so sure.
As compromised as the current bill is, if history is any guide, this is our last, best chance to pass health care reform for at least a generation. Surely, the Times editors don’t believe that given such a disastrous political failure, Congress or the President would be willing to buck history and touch this rail again anytime soon? Certainly the Times isn’t suggesting that smaller Democratic majorities in both houses, or even a Republican majority in one or the other, would be more likely to pass health care reform than the relatively large Democratic majorities we hold at the moment? The Republicans are clearly invested in blocking reform at any cost, and view this obstructionist strategy as absolutely critical to their long term political survival.
So I can only assume that the Times is being either naive or disingenuous when they repeatedly and aggressively urge Democrats to abandon health care reform at the same time they claim to support it.
Here’s my theory. The Times used to support health care reform, as like most businesses, they saw rising employee health insurance costs as threatening their economic survival. But with the collapse of the newspaper industry, and the large number of journalists and other related professionals now out of work, supply and demand has shifted so far in favor of the publisher that health care costs have ceased to be much of an issue. Newspaper employees are just thankful to have a job, and have repeatedly granted wage and benefit concessions to the Times and other papers nationwide.
If health insurance costs continue to rise, the Times will simply demand even more concessions, with the implied threat that recalcitrant employees can always be replaced by those hungry enough to do the job for less.
Health care crisis solved.
Yeah, I know, that’s an awfully cynical theory. But the only reasonable alternative would be to assume that the Times editors are a bunch of blithering idiots who genuinely and inexplicably believe that defeating health care reform is the surest path toward achieving it… and such a brutally harsh assessment just wouldn’t be polite.