In the WaPo Harold Meyerson reports on the "Blue Dog caucus" thwarting health care nationalization:
To today’s centrist Democrats, this has become a distant memory, a history lesson they cannot grasp. The notion that actual individuals might have to pay to secure the national interest appalls them. In the House, the Blue Dogs doggedly oppose proposals to fund universal coverage by taxing the wealthiest 1 percent of the nation’s households. Their deference to wealth — whether the consequence of our system of funding elections or a byproduct of the Internet generation’s experience of free access to information and entertainment — is not to be trifled with.
Centrist Democrats’ opposition to health reform verges on the incoherent. A caucus (the Blue Dogs) formed ostensibly to promote balanced budgets now disapproves of the proposed taxes that would cover the expenses of the new programs. The congressional centrists say, commendably, that they want to squeeze more economies out of the system, but they oppose giving more power to an agency that would set the payment scales for physicians.
Libertarians can reach their perspective just as easily through "left" thinking as by the "right." The difference isn’t in policy—both at least practically (if not nominatively) support classically liberal social policies (free minds, free markets) and classically conservative fiscal policy (tight watch, tight wad). Instead, the difference is in expectation. "Left" libertarians—ahem, Blue Dogs—expect government to meddle much more in social policy, while trusting the market to work out fiscal solutions on its own. "Right" libertarians believe that people will always retain their general freedom to do, socially, what they please, and believe that money meddling makes the difference between a successful nation and an unsuccessful one.
Federalist 10 teaches us that the framers built our government on principles of divided government. When people are free to fight for those principles about which they are most passionate, the resulting factions will generate reaction from the powers at be appropriate to reflect the interests of an inevitably-diversifying populus. Rather than attempt to quell passionate factions, James Madison counseled that we create a goverment structured along checks and balances. By levying mutual checks among the three branches, opportunity cost will drive factions to focus only on those issues critical to each group.
In this time when Big Government is trying to "rahm" through permission for even bigger government, thank goodness for partisan factions! If the left-libertarian Blue Dogs can rein in the most obviously-bad policies at the margin, perhaps Americans can stay healthy enough to make it to the next round.