Posted by: mutantpoodle | October 27, 2009

Chickens, Meet Roost

chicken1Anonymous Liberal points to this piece in The Hill, suggesting that the GO rank-and-file are frustrated that their leadership has not provided a GOP alternative to the largely Democratic (Gang of Six notwithstanding) effort for healthcare reform.

For a long time, that was a feature, not a bug. If you remember the high comedy from this summer, the GOP, in the person of Minority Leader John Boehner, claimed to have a bill, but that they weren’t going to release it.

Heaven forbid al qaeda get a hold of top-secret GOP plans to make Americans lives better.

Now, this isn’t the first time the GOP has been coy with respect to it’s stellar ideas for moving America forward.  Back in March, they released their own version of a Federal Budget that had – wait for it – not a single actual budget number in it.

This time the GOP has been too clever by half.  Clearly, they made a calculation in the summer that it was best to fire all guns at the various Democratic plans that were floating around (not to mention a few reform features that were, shall we say, imaginary).  And the reason, as AL points out, is that there is no path from GOP principles to an actual healthcare reform plan:

There are two fundamental problems we face with our health care system. The first is the fact that tens of millions of people in this country are either uninsured or under-insured. The second is the fact that health care costs are rising rapidly. Any proposal to reform our health care system must address these problems.

The one idea that Republicans have offered to address these problems is relatively easy to understand. They want to allow private health insurers to sell policies across state lines. Thus, as long as an insurer complies with the regulations of its home state, it could sell insurance outside of the state. This would increase the amount of competition and thereby reduce premiums. The problem with this idea, of course, is that it would create an instant “race to the bottom.” The insurance industry would lobby the states to relax their regulations and then would all set up shop in the state that was most willing to comply with their demands. The result would de facto deregulation of the industry. But, from the GOP perspective, this is a feature, not a bug.

But not a feature that’s going to sell well among people who have actually dealt with insurance companies.

This is getting to be a GOP pattern: they double down on a tactics, and have no plan B.  And part of their strategy, invariably, is that the Democrats will screw up.

Now, as a lifelong Democrat, I know that’s a tempting bet to take.  But it’s the same bet the McCain folks made almost exactly a year ago:

John McCain had a plan for a different election and a different opponent, even though all the information Obama had to make his plan McCain had available as well. And he should have figured out that a guy who took down the Clintons might be somewhat formidable.

But he didn’t.

Here are two more voices.

Alex Massie:

…”constructing” a “narrative” of Obama as a “lightweight celebrity” was a strategy that depended upon Obama showing himself to be nothing more than a lightweight celebrity candidate. But what if he showed more than that? What would the McCain campaign do then? In other words, McCain’s strategy depended upon Obama failing, not McCain succeeding. As such it was vulnerable. Indeed, it was predicated upon an analysis that was not the GOP’s to control. [Emphasis mine]

Today, even with their own cable television network, Republicans couldn’t drive health care reform into the ground.

Now the GOP footsoldiers are upset that they don’t have their own plan, even though coming up with one is fraught with peril:

If Republican leaders do not coalesce behind a plan, Democrats will repeat their claims that the GOP is “the party of no.”

And if they do back a plan, it will either be attacked by Democrats for not covering many of the uninsured — or be lambasted by the GOP base for crafting an expensive alternative.

One House Republican who spoke on the condition of anonymity said, “The fact is, [GOP leaders] are very concerned with doing anything that the base would interpret as ‘Democrat-lite’ or ‘socialized-lite’ … which is forcing a little of paralysis.”

Yup.  When your concern is politics over governing (and your party’s base has shrunk to an historical low), these are the problems you face.

Now, all that said, healthcare reform could still fail. However, if Harry Reid can hold the line on cloture in the Senate, healthcare reform will pass, and Republicans will remain on the sidelines, frustrated by their their irrelevance and impotence.

A condition that will last as long as they live in fear of the craziest of their base.

UPDATE: Joe Lieberman says he’ll vote to sustain a GOP filibuster of health care reform that contains a Public Option.  Jeez, Connecticut – couldn’t you have gotten it right in 2006?



  1. I tried in CT in 2006, I really tried. Sigh.

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