Reform Rate Signals

Current new coverage of Obama’s medical reform seems to focus on the issue of pace; everyone seems to agree that a fast process is a good for Obama, while a slow process is good for his Republican (and other) opponents.   I see two key reasons for this:

  1. Insiders can see that there will be a lot that the public can object to, once they get time to find out what is in this reform.  A fast process is trying to “pull a fast one” on the public.
  2. The more that insiders dislike about what they see, they less eager they are to speed the process.  So a fast process signals a good program to approve, while a slow process signals that it isn’t so good.

Obviously Obama and allies are pushing the second interpretation, while Republicans are pushing the first.  No doubt both factors are relevant.

From a public policy point of view, this signaling equilibrium is lamentable; it would be better if we could take the time to think carefully about big policy changes.  Perhaps that would mean we made fewer changes, because we’d see more details we don’t like.  But that would probably be worth it.

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