In politics, as in comedy, timing is everything.
A program that works in one time or place may not work in another.
Unions were able to raise wages and benefits in our major manufacturers after World War II largely because the manufacturing base of our foreign competitors had been destroyed in the war. The inflation that gripped our nation from 1960 to 1980 made prices easy to raise and COLA kept wages in pace.
But in the face of competition from the rebuilt allies and in the wake of the moderation of inflation under Reagan, these wage parities came under pressure. Part of controlling inflation included pressure on wages.
Clinton sought health insurance reform when the economy was decreasing its deficit which was soon to disappear. With the winding down of military expenses to fight the cold war there was money available to achieve large social programs. Even in a preferable economic situation, the public largely rejected large scale health care reform.
Today the drive for health care reform is happening in the worst economic climate in fifty years, with record deficits and record unemployment. By a reasonable standard the timing could not be worse.
The promoters fail to see the health care debate in its context. It cannot be separated from the economic quagmire nor can it be separated from the other very expensive bills like cap and trade and the stimulus bills.
Bold changes make great speech fodder, but it makes for reckless legislation. The fiscal conservatives from the Clinton presidency which reduced expenses, moderated regulation, and lowered taxes on investment should have a hard time reconciling with the reckless programs being embraced by Obama. This is why the bills are being bogged down in spite of one party rule.
In order to pay for his ambitious programs Obama needs a strong economy. He should fix that first. But unfortunately every program he has pushed has slowed the economy with paralyzing uncertainty.
In trying to accomplish everything, he risks accomplishing nothing.