These aren’t the Republicans you’re looking for
I respect E.D., but he’s completely off base here:
And yes, even though it may cause healthcare reform to die in its tracks, I still think that the right person won in Massachusetts. I also think that there are ways the Democrats could scale back reform and get some conservatives on board with a much more modest, more market-friendly reform that still helps a lot of people who need help. […]
In the end, I’m not too down over healthcare reform bottoming out. I don’t think it’s over, for one thing. And maybe something better, something more fiscally sound that still covers most Americans will emerge from all of this – perhaps even something with bipartisan support. Maybe a better, less cynical Republican party will begin to take root as well. Maybe, just maybe, people will take another look at Wyden/Bennett….
There is almost nothing in recent political history to suggest that the Republican Party is anything but hostile to health care reform. And if not hostile, then indifferent. Republicans had nearly four years of uninterrupted dominance with which to tackle health care reform, and neither President Bush nor congressional Republicans proposed anything. What’s more, the bulk of Republican legislators are comically ignorant of health care policy, and those that aren’t are far more concerned with their political futures than they are with reforming the health care system (see: Olympia Snow, Chuck Grassley).
By suggesting that Democrats “scale back” reform, E.D. is effectively blaming Democrats for Republican intransigence, which is completely absurd. Last year, Democrats offered Republicans the chance to make their mark on health care reform. Yes, it would happen within a liberal framework, but Democrats were more than willing to compromise and scale down if it meant GOP support. Republicans were repeatedly offered the opportunity to alter the bill to their liking; if Republicans wanted market-friendly reforms, they could have gotten them. If Republicans wanted something modest and limited, Democrats probably would have delivered. But they didn’t. Despite that, Democrats produced and passed a bill that is moderate and bipartisan in everything but name. The current bill is dramatically more conservative than Bill Clinton’s attempt to reform health care, and owes far more to Mitt Romney than it does to say, Harry Truman.
The simple fact is that there isn’t a single shred of evidence to support the idea that congressional Republicans have any interest in passing health care reform, even conservative, incremental health care reform. They are opposed to health care reform, they have always been opposed to health care reform, and if this bill fails, they will still be opposed to health care reform. If this bill fails, there won’t be another and — if previous history is any indication — it will be fifteen years before another president attempts to tackle health care reform, and in the meantime, the system will move closer to complete failure.
I don’t think I can be emphatic enough about this: the idea that there are Republican votes for a conservative health care bill (it’s already pretty moderate) is a complete fiction. The truth is that Republicans have made a conscious choice to categorically oppose each and every one of President Obama’s priorities, under the theory that obstruction is the surest way back to political success. Judging from their success so far, I think it’s fair to say that isn’t going to change anytime soon. To pretend otherwise, as E.D. does, is to be willfully ignorant of political reality.