The odd couple behind the "largest bipartisan coalition ever assembled" for health care reform

Writing for the American Prospect, Ezra Klein takes note of the national campaign for health care undertaken by our own Senator Ron Wyden and Utah's GOP Senator Bob Bennett.

Set next to each other, Sens. Ron Wyden and Bob Bennett are a bit of an odd couple. Where Wyden is friendly and effusive, Bennett is deliberate and contemplative, with an almost funereal air. Where Wyden hails from bluish Oregon, Bennett comes from Utah, the reddest state in the union. Where Wyden made his way into politics by forming the Grey Panthers, a legal aid group for the elderly, Bennett's father was a senator and he himself has served as everything from legislative liaison in the Department of Transportation to director of public relations for one of Howard Hughes' companies. Indeed, they appear to have only two things in common. They're both tall. And they want to solve America's health-care crisis.

They're not just an odd couple, though. They're partners in a health care plan that Ezra calls "more far-reaching, and more fundamentally transformative to our health system, than anything offered by the presidential candidates."

Occasionally, you see bipartisan groups where the various members talk like one another, either because they don't actually disagree or because they're more interested in the deal than in the issue. Not so here. Wyden is a genuine liberal, the type of senator you could imagine voting in favor of Medicare-For-All. And Bennett, who began his talk with a quote from David Frum's new book on renewing conservatism and explained that "my fundamental position is that markets make better decisions than governments do, if they are free to work," is the type of senator you could imagine filibustering Medicare-for-All.

And yet, Sens. Wyden and Bennett have co-sponsored health-care legislation that now has 12 senators onboard—six of them Democrats, six of them Republicans. Wyden, marveling over the strange bedfellows, asked the Congressional Research Service to run a historical search. His suspicions were right. With only 12 percent of the United States Senate onboard, it's the largest bipartisan coalition ever assembled around a concrete piece of universal health-care legislation.

Read the rest of Ezra's excellent explanation of Ron Wyden's health care plan. Discuss at the American Prospect.


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