UNADULTERATED GOOD NEWS ON HEALTH REFORM.

To counterbalance the crankiness of the previous post, Peter Orszag's announcement that the administration is not only continuing to support is $635 billion health care fund, but actually adding pieces to it, is important news. The key issue in health care reform is, quite simply, financing. Right now, the policy exists. The money doesn't. In fact, when the Senate passed its version of the budget, the specific financing provisions in the administration's health care reserve fund were deleted entirely.

Eventually, that money will have to come back. And so it's good to see the administration sticking behind its proposals, even the ones that got a little beat-up in the previous round. They've kept, for instance, the idea to limit the itemized deductions of the richest Americans, even though that took some flack when it was initially announced.

This gets to the administration's larger theory on revenues: They have a habit of offering up financing ideas well in advance of the financing discussion. Their health care financing ideas, for instance, came long before anyone had seen a draft of the Finance Committee's health care policy. They came long before any legislators actually needed to make tough choices on how to pay for health care.

As such, the proposals just got beat up by the people who didn't want to see their taxes lift. But the administration didn't see that as a loss. They're not expecting their financing ideas to achieve a quick adoption. Rather, they're familiarizing the political system with these proposals. That's not a pleasant process. But if the ideas are good and the counterarguments tinny, then, when legislators actually need to figure out how to pay for things, the expectation is that they'll come back to some of these concepts. It's as the old saying goes: "First they ignore you, then they mock you, then they fight you, then you win."

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