Democrats have learned a tough lesson this summer: no matter how powerful you are, the public is stronger. The ridiculous House Democrat Health care bill was a debacle. First, it followed the highly unpopular cap-and-trade bill, which garnered even fewer fans after all of the antics it took to get it to pass by the slightest of margins. Now, Democrats are trying to bring that same glorious lesson in democracy to health care…and the public wouldn’t stand for it.
Many on the left have hurled insult after insult at those, like me, that were vehemently opposed to the House bill. We were backwards, idiotic, hateful of the poor and uninsured, defenders of the status quo. And remarkably, many of these insults were launched not by second-rate legislators, but by the President and his cronies. It was just sad. There was, of course, the obvious and predictable push back from the public. The public simply does not like this kind of talk, from the right or the left, even more so with such an important issue as health care being discussed.
So, Obama and Democrats suffered a small defeat, with the delay of the voting on the bill until after the August recess. But now is not the time to become complacent. Frankly, there are provisions in the House bill that would not just be bad, but would be catastrophic to the health care industry, and the U.S. economy at large.
So how do we continue the fight?
1. Point out the failures in the current Obamacare proposal.
The failures are too numerous to recount here: lack of reduction of costs, too much government control and oversight, reduction in patient autonomy…all of these facts have driven the popularity of the bill below 35%. How bad is that? George W. Bush’s current popularity stands at 36%. Yup, that is bad. A Gallup poll shows that 2/3 of Americans believe Congress is not informed enough to make decisions on health care. Basically, they consider them ignorant.
Every statement of fact about what is in this bill has driven more and more people away from supporting it. We on the right don’t need to do anything more than read the provisions that are there for all to see. Democrats have gift wrapped our political arguments for us.
2. The CBO is our friend.
Democrats used CBO numbers like a sledgehammer over the stimulus plan. Well, payback is a…well, it can be tough. the Congressional Budget Office has made no friends in the White House or in Congress by simply stating what to most people in this country is obvious: government control cannot inherently reduce costs. The Democrats entire plan is based on the (false) thesis that by injecting a little ( or a lot) of government into health care, we can keep costs down. Yeah, the CBO didn’t buy that either. Every new provision that Obama and his cohorts come up that will supposedly drive costs down has been shot down by the CBO. Democrats are now fighting a rear-guard battle with the CBO, who usually is favorable to Democratic initiatives. But the CBO, almost daily, comes up with new figures that makes it harder for Obama to keep his most solemn pledge: not to increase the deficit with health care reform.
And one statement that every conservative should repeat over and over again: Can you name me one government program that cost LESS than the government predicted when it was passed?
3. Come up with alternatives.
We cannot sit on our hands. Republicans lost in 2006 and 2008 not because of failure of leadership; it was failure of ideas. Even today, you see numerous Republicans running around trying to kill off reform. That is not the way to win hearts and minds. Find conservative solutions to health care, and convince the public that more freedom from government, not less, can make their lives better.
I am a strong believe in reform. I also believe that we have to find a way to cover everyone in this country with at least basic catastrophic and preventative care. That being said, that can be done for much less money and with much less government intervention than the Democrats currently propose. It is time for conservatives to stop whining, and to give real solutions to real problems in society.
I have to say…Paul Ryan is really, really impressive on these issue recently. Here he is on MSNBC on Wednesday:
4. Focus on the costs.
Getting universal health care done will cost something. Additionally, it will likely have to be a shared sacrifice…Obama already has almost tapped out the rich, unless he really wants the economy in a tailspin. The size and scope of the costs come into full fruition with several new charts by Keith Hennessey; I strongly recommend reading his entire piece, which goes step by step into why this health care plan should be deader than a doornail…
This shows that the supposed cost savings in Obamacare only offset about 20% of the total news costs in the health care bill. That means, by definition, that the other 80% will have to come from new revenue, i.e. tax increases.
This, directly from the CBO, shows the massive debt that the House bill delivers. In 2020, the health care bill will have, per annum, a debt of $205 billion. And that is with no end in sight, as you can see the rate of growth of health care expenditures rises faster than tax receipts. This gives new meaning to the term “deficits as far as the eye can see”. Hennessey’s conclusion: CBO says that because the proposed new health spending would grow faster than the proposed new income tax increases, the House health bill would increase the long-term deficit. Since the President has said he would not sign a bill that increases the long-term deficit, the bill is dead in its current form. Any tax increase that would grow more slowly than the proposed new spending faces the same irreconcilable problem. The only way to solve this problem and meet the President’s long-term goal is to cut health spending or tax employer-provided health insurance.
I have to say I totally agree.
5. Make friend across the aisle.
There are many Democrats that are very antsy about this bill. They have heard from their constituents…and their constituents are not happy. Not at all.
We saw the first real fracture lines within the Blue Dog Democrats last month. They started an out and out rebellion within the House caucus, putting the last nail in Obama’s bid to get a vote before the August recess. These Blue Dogs see the polls, and realilze they won’t survive the 2010 election. Loyalty to Obama is one thing…self survival is another.
The moderate block in the Senate is similar. Led by Max Baucus, they see the House bill as atrocious, and not meeting the basic tenets that Obama proposed.
Moderate Democrats may be our best allies in the fight to come. Finally, a good reason for bipartisanship.
So where does this leave us?
I think it leaves us basically at square one. Obamacare, in its current version, should be dead assuming there is any logic remaining in the world. That means that a compromise solution, such as that proposed by Sen Wyden, or possibly the Baucus-Grassley plan, could still be alive. Both of those plans are not perfect, to be sure. However, they both give more control to individuals, try to actually decrease overall costs, don’t propose anywhere near the tax increases Obamacare proposes, and most importantly, don’t include the public option. Some version of either of those plans I believe could be considered a decent solution for the near term. Republicans still can affect those plans, and put in as many free market controls as they can. However, those plans are superior in everyway to the current Obamacare plan in the House.
This is how we fight the liberal ideal plan that now sits on Nancy Pelosi’s desk. There is no more room to maneuver or back down. August will give us time to reconstitute are arguments and forces to push health care reform in the direction it needs to go: more market freedom, more individual rights, less government regulation, and universality. We conservatives must be for health care reform…but only reform that will improve our health care system and maintain our economic growth. Anything less than that should be unnacceptable.