Tuesday, March 23, 2010


Well they passed the bill...

Predictably, the usual wing-nut radio and television personalities are breaking new ground to find ways of expressing their outrage - and in the process further distancing their cadres of devoted followers from any reasonable definition of sanity. "This is the death knell of the American Dream!" People are going to lose a lot of sleep over this.

Lost amid all this loud, bellicose braying are the quiet, conservative voices of reason - who are patiently pointing out that the real loser here is the Republican Party itself. David Frum writes:

"This time, when we (Republicans) went for all the marbles, we ended with none.

Could a deal have been reached? Who knows? But we do know that the gap between this plan and traditional Republican ideas is not very big. The Obama plan has a broad family resemblance to Mitt Romney’s Massachusetts plan. It builds on ideas developed at the Heritage Foundation in the early 1990s that formed the basis for Republican counter-proposals to Clintoncare in 1993-1994.

Barack Obama badly wanted Republican votes for his plan. Could we have leveraged his desire to align the plan more closely with conservative views? To finance it without redistributive taxes on productive enterprise – without weighing so heavily on small business – without expanding Medicaid? Too late now. They are all the law..."


"There were leaders who knew better, who would have liked to deal. But they were trapped. Conservative talkers on Fox and talk radio had whipped the Republican voting base into such a frenzy that deal-making was rendered impossible. How do you negotiate with somebody who wants to murder your grandmother? Or – more exactly – with somebody whom your voters have been persuaded to believe wants to murder their grandmother?"

and finally:

"I’ve been on a soapbox for months now about the harm that our overheated talk is doing to us. Yes it mobilizes supporters – but by mobilizing them with hysterical accusations and pseudo-information, overheated talk has made it impossible for representatives to represent and elected leaders to lead. The real leaders are on TV and radio, and they have very different imperatives from people in government. Talk radio thrives on confrontation and recrimination. When Rush Limbaugh said that he wanted President Obama to fail, he was intelligently explaining his own interests. What he omitted to say – but what is equally true – is that he also wants Republicans to fail. If Republicans succeed – if they govern successfully in office and negotiate attractive compromises out of office – Rush’s listeners get less angry. And if they are less angry, they listen to the radio less, and hear fewer ads for Sleepnumber beds.

So today’s defeat for free-market economics and Republican values is a huge win for the conservative entertainment industry. Their listeners and viewers will now be even more enraged, even more frustrated, even more disappointed in everybody except the responsibility-free talkers on television and radio. For them, it’s mission accomplished. For the cause they purport to represent, it’s Waterloo all right: ours."

Steve, it will come as no shock to you that I am happy we managed to pass this bill. I consider it to be a step in the right direction.

But what may come as as shock to you is how much better I believe this bill could have been with Republican input. Now over the next few weeks we're going have to listen, endlessly, to cries of foul play - of how Republicans were "locked out" of the process - and of how Nancy Pelosi perverted the spirit of the Constitution and steam rolled this thing through against the will of the American people. What a crock.

Steve, I'm sure you will have no trouble agreeing with me that this country's ultimate source of energy is the American people themselves - and private enterprise is the engine which harnesses that energy.

What Republicans should have been doing from the very start is standing up for their principles and working out compromises which included at least some of the important and necessary market based solutions which health care reform desperately requires.

I've said before at this very blog that the real problem at the heart of the health care crisis in this country is supply and demand. This bill is going to address some important issues. It has the potential to give government the tools it needs to correct many of the excesses and inflated costs which government itself has been largely responsible for. However it does precious little to address supply and demand. Republicans should have seen to it that the issue of supply and demand at least got a fair hearing. But instead, they wasted their time and ours trying to scare the public with imaginary death panels. Incredibly, they raised as a central objection the fact that the bill itself was over a thousand pages long. Pshah! What incredible chutzpah! I personally read through the bill in an afternoon. Should we not at least expect our representatives to possess the power to read?

And in the end, Republicans simply withdrew from the whole process altogether. Is this going to net them a few more votes this November? Well, possibly. But where to then? I doubt if they will regain a majority in the House. But even if they should, they won't repeal this bill.

But let us consider a reality in which Republicans regain control of both the House and the Senate - then repeal the bill - then the President goes along and signs off on it. I repeat: "What then?".

In order to gain votes, Republicans have signed on to a policy of no cut backs whatsoever on Medicare. They have not only dismissed the public option (understandable), but also trashed the idea of insurance exchanges (preposterous). As a matter of fact, prior to the summit called by the President, they couldn't find anything in the bill worth saving - and so offered as a precondition for their participation that the whole bill be scrapped.

So, if there isn't anything in the bill worth saving, how exactly do Republicans plan to go about fixing a broken system?

You yourself have mentioned "tort reform": a valid talking point perhaps but largly a chimera. I've noted before that Texas already limits malpractice damages to $250,000.00 and this has done virtually nothing to reduce the cost of health care in that state. But I digress...

The real problem here as I see it is that in a misguided effort to present the voters with a clear choice this November, Republicans have simply gone too far. Reluctantly perhaps, but still to a man, they have gone along with the right wing entertainment media's demonization of Democrats.

Now I'm willing to listen to any arguement which posits that American Democrats are stary eyed, tree hugging idealists. But shame on the manipulative hypocrite who tries to paint this sort of idealism as just another conspiracy to rob the American people of their liberties. For Pete's sake Steve, do you actually believe liberals running for office in this country all secretly want to euthanize old people?

I agree with David Frum completely. Republicans are ceding the authority to govern to a bunch of money grubbing media clowns and we can't afford it. We need honest, rational conservatives in government and we just aren't getting them.

I'll stop talking now...


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