The GOP Never Wanted Health Reform


As I have been saying for almost a year now, the Republicans never wanted Health Care Reform. They wanted to use this issue as a rallying cry for the 2010 election, facts be damned. They should be applauded for the conformity of message, no matter how false many of the claims were, but this still doesn’t excuse their politics as usual approach to an issue that is vitally important to Americans.

Ezra Klien wrote today about Former George Bush economic speechwriter, David Frum’s commentary about the Republican approach toward killing Health Reform. It really is a tired story, but so many still don’t believe this was the GOP plan all along. They still believe that they were shut out of health reform negotiations when the GOP actually walked out on them.

David Frum writes.

At the beginning of this process we made a strategic decision: unlike, say, Democrats in 2001 when President Bush proposed his first tax cut, we would make no deal with the administration. No negotiations, no compromise, nothing. We were going for all the marbles. This would be Obama’s Waterloo – just as healthcare was Clinton’s in 1994.

Only, the hardliners overlooked a few key facts: Obama was elected with 53% of the vote, not Clinton’s 42%. The liberal block within the Democratic congressional caucus is bigger and stronger than it was in 1993-94. And of course the Democrats also remember their history, and also remember the consequences of their 1994 failure.

This time, when we 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.

That is a Republican on record saying the bill is based on many Republican ideas. This is a Republican on record saying the Republican plan was to stop the plan at all costs. This is a Republican on record saying the GOP made a mistake playing politics as usual, instead of coming to the table in a bi-partisan fashion.

The GOP made a calculated decision to stop health care. They put the success of their party before the American people. Health Care is an issue that needed the full support of the Senate and Congress to try to fix a problem that has huge long term implications on our society. But the GOP decided to play political games with the issue. The GOP willfully overlooked the 18,000 to 45,000 Americans yearly who die because of lack of health insurance, and for what? More seats in the House and Senate. Well hopefully between now and November the voting public begins to understand what the GOP really stood for over the past year in terms of Health Reform.

The main reason the Health issue was so clouded is simple. The Democrats had a caucus of a number of competing ideas. Some believed in Single Payer, some believed in a Private and Public answer, and still others like the President believed the answer lied within the current system of Private Insurers.

While the Republicans had it easy, they were resolute in stopping the Presidents Health Care agenda no matter what it held, that was decided before any health reform plan was even conceived. Do you see how much easier that is? Just pick at the parts of any legislation and call it bad for America. Muddy the waters, calling it Socialism, or a Government takeover, make up things like Death Panels, then when the bill is almost ready to be passed try to intimidate, with Racial slurs, Gay slurs, Spitting on members, in a last ditch effort to stop a plan that helps cover over 95% of Americans with health insurance.

What happens from now on will be interesting to say the least. Many hardliners and basic sore losers are going to rail on repealing the bill. The Beck’s, Hannity’s, and Limbaugh’s will see ratings skyrocket as they ramp up the rhetoric. While the realists like Krauthammer understand repeal is an unlikely scenario.

But the real question is, will the GOP again follow a blind initiative to stay resolute, against anything Obama, while they could be adding real Republican standards to future legislation. I believe issues such as Energy, Financial Regulation, and Education, can be truly bi-partisan when the GOP realizes they work for the American people instead of trying to use them to push an agenda that gets them re-elected.