Peggy, did Republicans squander an opportunity here? Whether or not you look at short-term gains that could happen, this bill is likely not going anywhere. Should Republicans have gotten up to the table and actually tried to contribute ideas?
NOONAN: A lot of Republicans feel they did go to the table and were not so terribly welcomed there. You all know the stories. Olympia Snowe tried it. Paul Ryan tried it. Tom Coburn, Bob Bennett. There are a million names of people.
Bennett had a Bennett-Wyden bill that was so good, had the support of Republicans and Democrats, covered so many people. The administration and the Democratic-controlled Congress just stiffed it.
Republicans were there until they came to realize that they could not get anything that they felt was reasonable. That the bill was being tugged...
NOONAN: I'm sorry...
KRUGMAN: I wish I lived on Peggy's planet here.
NOONAN: Too far in the directions that they didn't want to go. They didn't want public option, et cetera. Widen-Bennett was good.
WILL: The Wyden-Bennett bill, if the president had come out right after his inauguration and said, I want to do two things, I want to change the tone in Washington and I want to insure the uninsured.
By last August, he could have had that passed and the Wyden-Bennett bill with 70 votes. It's one-nineteenth the length of the bill that was passed. It's less intrusive and less coercive, which are virtues to some of us and vices to the Obama administration.
KRUGMAN: Wyden-Bennett -- and this, we're going to lose the audience here totally. Wyden-Bennett was a much more far-reaching transformation of the whole way health care works...
KRUGMAN: ... which means that whatever people said about supporting it, as it came closer the floor, it would have had mass defections. The Obama -- "Obamacare" is conservative, not in a political sense, but in a sort of ordinary life sense. It leaves the system that most Americans have pretty much intact. And that was what made it possible.
You can say in the abstract, oh, people were in favor of the ideas behind a radical transformation of the whole system. It wasn't going to happen. This was going to happen and it did.
WILL: Well, I agree with Paul to this extent, that the Obama bill is fundamentally timid in that it did not attack what everyone knows is the source of our main problem, which is employer-provided health insurance, which tangles up a high inflationary product, health insurance, health care with the wage system in this country.
KRUGMAN: I guess I'm not everyone, because I don't agree. I mean, the fundamental problem we have is third-party payment, which is necessary. You can't run health care unless somebody pays -- else pays the bills in extreme cases, which is where most of the money is.
But we don't have a system that is very good providing incentives to limit costs. And this bill takes some important steps in that direction.
TAPPER: But I want to move on to another topic.
BRAZILE: But can I give a...
TAPPER: Donna, do -- yes, go ahead.
BRAZILE: David Frum, because Dave is a good person. It once again shows that this -- the Republican Party has a small tent, that they are not diverse and they are not welcoming. And I think it's bad for the parties. Good for Democrats, though.