Could the GOP have preempted ObamaCare?

posted at 12:58 pm on April 8, 2010 by Karl

Some influential bloggers seem to think so, including Ed Morrissey:

The GOP had total control of Congress from 2002 to 2006, and the only significant plan they put forward on health care was the creation of the Medicare Part D entitlement that did little but to speed the coming collapse of Medicare. In that effort, the Republican majority did everything that the GOP has rightly accused the Democrats of doing this time around – such as using statist solutions to a problem where market-based solutions existed, and fudging the numbers to fool people into believing it wouldn’t cost too much.

Not once during that period did the party seriously attempt to reform the health-care cost structure, let alone through the use of market-based strategies now expounded by Paul Ryan, among others. Why? First, Republicans did attempt to reform Social Security in 2005 with market-based strategies and got demagogued by Democrats for making the effort. But it wasn’t really that reason that kept the GOP from engaging on health-care reform. That issue was widely seen as a Democratic strength, and Republicans didn’t want to engage heavily on their turf.

What we see now is the result of leaving that vacuum on a major issue. Since the GOP refused to engage on it, they wound up with lower credibility. More importantly, by not accomplishing reform when they had their chance, Republicans left it on the table for when the Democrats got complete control of Washington.

Patrick Ruffini similarly blames GOP inaction in part for the passage of ObamaCare, while raising related points addressed below. Certainly, a defeat the size of ObamaCare ought to prompt some self-examination on the Right. However, the suggestion that the GOP could have preempted ObamaCare during the Bush Administration is too clever by half.

Consider how difficult it was for Democrats to pass a healthcare reform law. The Dems required a large majority in the House and a filibuster-proof majority. Those large majorities were necessary to find the minimum number who — through a combination of ideological zeal, party loyalty, payoffs and threats — would squeak through bills in the face of public opposition. The opposition from the right is understandable. The opposition from the non-ideological middle is likely traceable to the consistent public opinion polling showing (as it did when ClintonCare failed) that the large majority have health insurance, and a large majority of them are fairly satisfied with that insurance. In addition, the polling consistently showed that the public simply did not trust politicians’ assurances (from Pres. Obama on down) that people would be able to retain their own coverage and doctors — or their assurances that costs would be reduced.

During the G.W. Bush Administration, the GOP never held as many seats in the House as the Dems hold today. More significantly, the Senate was divided 51-49. And that razor-thin margin was far from ideologically pure, including Sens. Snowe, Collins, Specter, Hagel, Graham, etc. Ed may discount the 2005 failure of Social Security reform as an example, but the fecklessness and disarray of the Congressional GOP then suggests a lack of the ideological and partisan commitment necessary for a project like healthcare reform.

Next, consider Ruffini’s diagnosis of the GOP’s policy problem:

On health care, I have no idea what our basic guiding principle is. Seriously, I don’t.

We have tried ineffectively to stretch free market rhetoric to health care without appreciating that health care is already too far removed from a free market for the analogy to make sense. Real markets are sensitive to price. Health care isn’t. The insurance companies hide the cost of actual care from the consumer.

What we have lacked in this debate is a simple clarion call to address an aching need — bringing free market principles to bear to improve tangible health outcomes.

However, if the problem is the current health insurance system — largely provided by employers, more like prepaid medical care than catastrophic insurance — it follows that reforming that system will almost certainly involve disrupting the current arrangements of the people in that system. (This includes not only healthcare consumers, but also the various interest groups later bought off by the Obama Administration.) Selling that scale of change to a non-ideological middle that remains (rightly) skeptical of government promises likely would have proven every bit as difficult for the GOP then as it was for the Dems last year.

Next, for the sake of argument, let’s assume that the GOP — against all odds and history — produced a conservative/ libertarian version of healthcare reform, and had the ideological zeal and party unity, and somehow got it through the Senate via budget reconciliation, regardless of public opinion. Would it have stopped Democrats from pushing something like ObamaCare? That’s another of Ruffini’s arguments:

We don’t talk much about education at the federal level these days. There is a sense that the problem was “solved” by NCLB, which is now nearly a decade old. Likewise, no one will try to move welfare reform legislation because the successful 1996 reform law substantively and politically took the wind out of the sails of that issue.

Unfortunately, this claim is counter-factual. Pres. Obama’s first budget took steps to undo welfare reform. In year two, he is working on watering down NCLB. There may not have been a lot of talk about these efforts, as the focus was on big-business bailouts and ObamaCare — but they are happening. Just as the Right’s is fired up to repeal (or replace or whatever) ObamaCare, even if it takes several election cycles, it seems unrealistic to assume that passage of a GOP healthcare bill in the 200os — or anytime — would have caused the Left to give up on their decades-old dream of socialized medicine. The lesson should be that if the Right wants to deny the Left that dream, it will need to build large majorities and broadly convince the public that the problems of government controlled health insurance (and thereby healthcare) are not cured by still more intervention. In the best of worlds, the GOP would achieve the former by achieving the latter.

This post was promoted from GreenRoom to HotAir.com.
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Comments

Let’s pray we get real conservatives in the GOP soon…

OmahaConservative on April 8, 2010 at 1:01 PM

Republicans didn’t so anything when they had control of Congress because there wasn’t a crisis and there still isn’t. Democrats made it up in order to achieve their dream of socialized medicine and grow the government. There are not 30-40 million uninsured Americans, as we are going to find out in a few years when only about 5 million people actually sign up for Obamacare.

Health insurance is regulated by the states. Or at least it used to be. Republicans rightly believed that any “reforms” should be handled at that level.

rockmom on April 8, 2010 at 1:02 PM

I think a truly market-based reform proposal would be the kind of thing that would energize the base and that would lead to the majorities in Congress that could get such a large chunk of legislation enacted.

The GOP too often is too pragmatic or just doesn’t care.

Dream big. You aren’t going to get people all excited about just holding back the tide of Democrat excess, you have to move the ball forward once in awhile as well, otherwise you just keep punting.

NoDonkey on April 8, 2010 at 1:03 PM

Plus…it really needs repeating, George H. W. Bush put forward a very comprehensive and fairly market-oriented healthcare plan that was killed in the Senate by George Mitchell.

W. knew this all too well and surely didn’t want to travel down the same road.

Nowadays the whole episode is damn near airbrushed out of America history, but what a different world it would have been if Bush the Elder had gotten it done.

Typhoon on April 8, 2010 at 1:04 PM

THROW.
THEM.
ALL.
OUT.
All of them.

Deckard on April 8, 2010 at 1:06 PM

Let’s keep Michele Bachmann, Paul Ryan and a few others…

OmahaConservative on April 8, 2010 at 1:08 PM

The GOP blew it. They should have enguaged from the get go. The stakes were too high to simply throw tantrums. If they would have bent over backwards and sincerely pushed with compassion to get involved from the beginning, they would have had far more political clout and credibility.

Kind of like the Sunnis in the first Iraq election. Lack of vision and appreciation for the gravity of this disaster.

This whole episode showed my just how sorry the leadership is on both sides. It’s time for real change, so lets throw all the bums out!

saiga on April 8, 2010 at 1:10 PM

rockmom on April 8, 2010 at 1:02 PM

Actually I completely disagree that there isn’t a crisis, or that the issue can be solved purely at the state level. Health insurance tied to employment is a disaster on many, many levels. And the Feds are so heavily involved now–and were before Obamacare as well that they’d have to action action if only to extricate themselves from the mess.

Typhoon on April 8, 2010 at 1:10 PM

Would have, should have, could have. Makes no difference. We have to deal with what is before us right now.

If Republicans are worried about credibility all they have to do is listen to the people. Smaller government, cut spending. But instead, while in power they increased spending. They were governing like Democrats.

ButterflyDragon on April 8, 2010 at 1:15 PM

Could it be that the Republicans know that the Constitution hasn’t given them the authority to “fix” healthcare? They could, however, have repealed any stupid legislation that gets in the way of health care provision.

jimmy2shoes on April 8, 2010 at 1:16 PM

I agree with NoDonkey.

There were two big problems with health insurance pre-ObamaCare: employer based coverage and state legislature control of policy terms. Effectively each state legislature could by itself dictate policy coverage requirements, and approve pricing, while the true cost of the resulting nightmare coverage was hidden from consumers by muddling it with compensation and corporate tax issues. Both of these problems were long known, and relatively ancient. The industry got used to the fat life of government control, and has never improved it’s business processes one iota.

The GOP ignored them for decades, even while the Democrats schemed to expand the Federal role in the largely state processes. So here we are, and now the best strategy the Republicans are floating for repairing this abomination is to defund the various programs. Really? That’s it? That’s the best you can come up with?

Lay out a replacement set of ideas. Run on those. Win, big. Deliver. That’s the better path, GOP- learn from the past.

MTF on April 8, 2010 at 1:16 PM

Let’s keep Michele Bachmann, Paul Ryan and a few others…

OmahaConservative on April 8, 2010 at 1:08 PM

Very few. Our country is in this fix due to dearth of leader/s.

Schadenfreude on April 8, 2010 at 1:16 PM

Any real attempt at significant healthcare reform must have SS and Medicare reform first otherwise costs spiral out of control, as we are all about to see.

We saw how well SS reform went, and Medicare reform got short-sheeted as well.

Walk it all back! Privatize whatever you can as quick as you can and get outta the damn way.

Jason Coleman on April 8, 2010 at 1:17 PM

the fact is that the Dem/Left would never have allowed the R’s to mount serious healthcare reform. They even blocked the Nixon

The flat truth is that in February 1974, with the hounds of hell baying at him about Watergate, with a national trial by shortage under way after the Arab Oil Embargo, with the economy in extremely rocky shape, and with large Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress, Republican Richard M. Nixon submitted to Congress a national health care bill in many ways more comprehensive than what Mr. Obama achieved

The plan, of course, was killed dead by the Democrats, led by Edward Kennedy, who later regretted what he had done.

The media narrative of the Left/Dems is all PR. They are hard ball pols that want the fame, fortune and everylasting power of winning.

r keller on April 8, 2010 at 1:18 PM

I still am scratching my head about how any of this makes health care cheaper. All I hear dems say is that it will make health COVERAGE more afforadable. The way I have always seen it is no matter what the cost of the insurance an abdominal CT will still be over 2,000.00 – how will any of this make a CT that once cost over 2,000.00 make it cost less that 2,000.00?

When all is said and done it is too late to preempt the health care bill BUT IT’S NOT TOO LATE TO PREEMPT A VAT TAX!

AusTex girl on April 8, 2010 at 1:20 PM

There goes Ruffini again. Thinking it’s all about the issues when it really isn’t.

And BTW, why is any Republican obligated to help pass the Democrat Party’s Holy Grail?

BradSchwartze on April 8, 2010 at 1:20 PM

The government can’t run a port-o-can much less health care. All they do is spend other peoples money like it was beach sand. If you don’t have to earn it, spending it is as easy as spending an un-diserved welfare check.

Free market capitalizm is our great strenght whatever the bottom feeders think. Rugged individualism has winners and loosers, and the cream rises to the top.

Why don’t we just get a bunch of Woodie Allens to fill the rosters of the NFL teams? Emmit Smith is too good, and shouldn’t have recieved the big money. Woodie Allen at Right Guard should get the same money as Larry Allen.

There should be no Generals in the Army, only privates. They would be a more effective fighting force.

Obama is the dumbest smart guy I know. Make the flunkies better, don’t make the superstars worse. Really stupid.

saiga on April 8, 2010 at 1:21 PM

Can there be no greater impetus for limited government?

Speakup on April 8, 2010 at 1:22 PM

In part, a fantasy scenario.

Just as the ‘rats blew up Dubya’s plan to reform SS, they would have done exactly the same thing to ANY Medicare/Medicade ‘fixes’.

And gained a PR bonanza to boot.

You wanna accuse the GOP of being ‘cowards’? Fine.

Maybe so. But remember that only the suicidally brave charge interlocking HMG’s [oh yeah, don’t forget the minefield too…].

CPT. Charles on April 8, 2010 at 1:23 PM

So, 0bamacare actually the republicans fault now?

What rot. 0bamacare is 100% pure democrat party’s responsibility, this attempt to make it by weird backhanded ways a bipartisan thing is just plain stupid.

Lets kick out the democrats, then hold the republicans feet to the fire – undercutting them now when they’re about to make historic gains is not the way to go.

Rebar on April 8, 2010 at 1:25 PM

The Medicare prescription drug plan is the only part that has been under budget. Had it been an example of how to transform the rest of Medicare it could have been a conservative success. It still could be, if viewed in this fashion.

Unfortunately, the P.R.O. Health Vampire bill has poisoned the well by abusing private enterprise and threatening the very existence of medicine as a private business, making everyone ever more skeptical of any solutions that might be pursued.

njcommuter on April 8, 2010 at 1:26 PM

CPT. Charles on April 8, 2010 at 1:23 PM

That’s what they told Ronald Reagan about the Pershing II and MX missle deployments. When there is a will, there is a way. Great leadership makes a really big difference.

saiga on April 8, 2010 at 1:27 PM

. Obama’s first budget took steps to undo welfare reform.

Judging from the news today, they elected to provide welfare through the tax code.

John Deaux on April 8, 2010 at 1:28 PM

Deckard on April 8, 2010 at 1:06 PM

That won’t solve a thing. You want to treat a symptom rather than the problem. We need as many seats as possible, and we need to be making a case directly to the American people.

These things aren’t easy, but they are necessary.

Esthier on April 8, 2010 at 1:29 PM

Rebar on April 8, 2010 at 1:25 PM

At least SOMEBODY understands the game plan.

BradSchwartze on April 8, 2010 at 1:30 PM

Lets kick out the democrats, then hold the republicans feet to the fire – undercutting them now when they’re about to make historic gains is not the way to go.

Rebar on April 8, 2010 at 1:25 PM

All the dems need to be gone for sure, but I don’t think the leadership on the GOP side is where it needs to be. I would rather put pressure on them now and get some new decent candidates as well as get the GOP leadership off of their dead a$$es. We have 7 months to go, and don’t underestimade the damage an idiot congress can do with that much time left.

Changed on the GOP side need to be made, especially in the senate, and Boner in the house needs to step up his game.

saiga on April 8, 2010 at 1:32 PM

First, we have to have a small portion of the MSM that actually is in the middle and not just the DNC’s propaganda arm. Until that changes the left will set the narrative and make any real changes.

jukin on April 8, 2010 at 1:34 PM

jukin on April 8, 2010 at 1:34 PM

And FoxNews means absolutely nothing, right? Those poor, put upon conservatives can never catch a media break, can they?

BradSchwartze on April 8, 2010 at 1:37 PM

Not going to listen to this “It’s the GOP’s fault” that the Democrats rammed through their dream plan against the wishes of the people. Next thing you know, I am going to be reading here how “It’s our fault that the World Trade Center was attacked.” Stop with this nonsense. The GOP’s problem was inaction, to be sure, but also signing on with TEDDY FRIGGIN KENNEDY for NCLB and adding a new entitlement program with Medicare D. If the Dems thought it was a great idea…that should have rung warning bells far and wide.

I am sick and tired of everything that is wrong with this country being thrown at our feet. We are for responsible government and empowering people to be the best they can be (i.e. contributing to society). If people stand against those philosophies, we need to vote them out of office, regardless of the R or D after their name.

search4truth on April 8, 2010 at 1:38 PM

the only significant plan they put forward on health care was the creation of the Medicare Part D entitlement that did little but to speed the coming collapse of Medicare.

Medicare Collapse?

Collapse right into ObamaCare, that is.

cntrlfrk on April 8, 2010 at 1:40 PM

87% of Americans have health care, and why tamper with that? However, they should have invested more than a medicare D program. Cost is the issue, and an overhaul was the last thing the problem needed. Unfortunately, they were a few years to late to come up with ideas.

capejasmine on April 8, 2010 at 1:41 PM

The GOP’s problem was inaction, to be sure

search4truth, you feed into the “It’s the GOP’s fault” meme when you parrot this line.

Repeat after me: No Republican is obligated to vote for or take responsibility for the Democrats’ Holy Grail.

Period. End of Story.

BradSchwartze on April 8, 2010 at 1:44 PM

Dems are proactive, Repubs are reactive.

See, reactive is fine if you believe that federal govt. power and spending should be limited and curtailed, so if you subscribe to that, then not using federal power to legislate from on high on every little thing is actually a good thing.

But Dems are proactive, and will push, scream, thug, spin and demand that federal govt. power and spending increase and expand, as it is a “good”. More and more legislation, like firing 100 baseballs out of a batting cage machine at once. They constantly try to grab more power and do more with it, and the Repubs either stand around bewildered from the onslaught, or swinging wildly, try to fight it off.

If the Dems say “we want to cut both your legs off”, it isn’t smart to cut one off hoping to prevent them from getting two, or as a compromise. You don’t want either cut off, so you fight to prevent that.

It’s hard to be proactive at doing “nothing”.

Saltyron on April 8, 2010 at 1:47 PM

Don’t forget 85% of Americans were happy with their healthcare. Incremental changes is the way to go, not massive programs like the one forced on unhappy Americans.

ButterflyDragon on April 8, 2010 at 1:48 PM

I have been saying that the Republicans lead to ObamaCare and the Obama Economy. Maybe not directly, but they had plenty of time to advance conservative values rather than big spending.

jeffn21 on April 8, 2010 at 1:51 PM

… and of course, this assumes that the nation needs and wants something like ObamaCare … NOT

J_Crater on April 8, 2010 at 1:53 PM

Could the GOP have preempted ObamaCare?

Hey! That gives me a great idea!

Let’s preempt Mahmoud Ahmadinejad building an A-Bomb by giving him one ourselves!

MB4 on April 8, 2010 at 1:56 PM

Patrick Ruffini similarly blames GOP inaction in part for the passage of ObamaCare, while raising related points addressed below. Certainly, a defeat the size of ObamaCare ought to prompt some self-examination on the Right.

Patrick Ruffini demonstrates a profound lack of strategic thinking.

MB4 on April 8, 2010 at 1:58 PM

You don’t get your car or home insurance through your employer and you shouldn’t get your health insurance through them either.

moonsbreath on April 8, 2010 at 2:00 PM

You’re wrong. The Rs could easily have prevented Obamacare but passing their own health care reform would have been only part of it. In addition thay’d have had to stand by the principles of limited government rather than spending like drunken sailors and ruthlessly root out the Cunninghams and Foleys and puncture the real estate bubble when it was tiny instead of huge. If thay had, they’d still have a significant majority today.

The moral is simple. Don’t be lazy. Do the hard work and you will be rewarded.

edshepp on April 8, 2010 at 2:02 PM

MB4 on April 8, 2010 at 1:58 PM

Not to mention warped views on who bears responsibility for anything involving Obamacare.

BradSchwartze on April 8, 2010 at 2:02 PM

The way I have always seen it is no matter what the cost of the insurance an abdominal CT will still be over 2,000.00 – how will any of this make a CT that once cost over 2,000.00 make it cost less that 2,000.00?

AusTex girl on April 8, 2010 at 1:20 PM

Oh they have already got that all figured out. They wait until 10 people need an abdominal CT scan and then take the one who is in the middle age-wise, or height-wise, and give him/her a abdominal CT scan and then use that one for all ten, which reduces the price down to $200.00 per patient.

MB4 on April 8, 2010 at 2:03 PM

puncture the real estate bubble when it was tiny instead of huge. If thay had, they’d still have a significant majority today.

The moral is simple. Don’t be lazy. Do the hard work and you will be rewarded.

edshepp on April 8, 2010 at 2:02 PM

In all fairness, Republicans did try to stop the housing bubble and were shot down by the Democrats. Having a simple majority in Congress does not mean you can get to do whatever is on your wishlist. There are procedures and rules that have to be followed.

ButterflyDragon on April 8, 2010 at 2:07 PM

Vouchers? If the Feds had to do something, at least do this.

DavidM on April 8, 2010 at 2:11 PM

The first problem is letting libwits frame the issue.

Not only wasn’t the state of Health Care in this country our biggest problem, our Health Care system was the best the in world. Like everything in bizarro liberal world, the truth was 180 degrees from what they claim.

The issue, and a small one it was, was rising costs. Costs were rising because of government intervention, and that could have been easily corrected. However, that small problem would never have gotten out of hand, because people simply would never spend 40% of income on medical care. The spending problem was self-capped.

The lesson to be taken from this is to NOT LET THE LIBWITS DEFINE AN ISSUE.

notagool on April 8, 2010 at 2:12 PM

MTF on April 8, 2010 at 1:16 PM

The Republican’s problem is they perpetually play on defense.

It’s as if they get the ball and punt it back to the Democrats on first time.

They don’t return fire. Democrats lie about them and slander them and the Republicans mutter, “we’re not that bad”.

Just rolling back some of the incredibly stupid and corrupt policies Democrats have put through, isn’t enough.

At some point and especially now, when you have so many immense problems facing this country, you need to put forth a vision and not be afraid to defend it.

NoDonkey on April 8, 2010 at 2:26 PM

The GOP blew it. They should have enguaged from the get go. The stakes were too high to simply throw tantrums. If they would have bent over backwards and sincerely pushed with compassion to get involved from the beginning, they would have had far more political clout and credibility.

saiga on April 8, 2010 at 1:10 PM

You don’t have a grasp of how the dems play ball in DC. If the reps want to play, the first thing the dems demand is that the Rs bend over because its easier to insert the bat with them bent over. The dems start with a position that is sooooo far left that they are ashamed to publicly claim that it is their position. The reps bring a position that the dems proclaim is so onerous that anything close to what the Rs are floating is out of the question. The dems then move one baby step to the right and that’s when the reps are supposed to bend over. If they do at this point they get some KY to go with the bat, if they don’t then when they finally do assume the position, no KY and sometimes the bat gets roughed up with sandpaper.

That’s how the Rs play ball in DC.

belad on April 8, 2010 at 2:44 PM

Hindsight is always 20/20

PJ Emeritus on April 8, 2010 at 2:44 PM

At some point and especially now, when you have so many immense problems facing this country, you need to put forth a vision and not be afraid to defend it.

NoDonkey on April 8, 2010 at 2:26 PM

On so many issues the Republican vision is to minimize government influence.

So, I guess the solution is to increase the government’s role in decreasing the government’s role? Create legislation to reduce legislation? It’s a catch-22.

ButterflyDragon on April 8, 2010 at 2:50 PM

GOP = democrat light. Half the taste, half the calories and half the testosterone.

bloviator on April 8, 2010 at 2:58 PM

No way something like tort reform would have gotten past the Democrats, and that’s absolutely required to do health care reform… Plus after No child Left Behind, the Dems were not going to allow the Republicans to co-opt any more of their key issues, lest they would have felt they would have been the permanent minority party…

phreshone on April 8, 2010 at 2:59 PM

Ruffini is way off on this analysis. Throughout W’s first term, Republicans held only tenuous majorities in the Senate, which could be threatened by defections from weaklings like Jim Jeffords and Lincoln Chafee. They enacted two tax cuts, had to clean up after 9-11 and Enron, and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq had to be funded, so they had very little stomach to run into Democrat quicksand on health care reform. Since this issue lost the House for Bill Clinton in 1994, why even go there?

In 2005-06, Republicans held the House and hit a peak of 55 Senators, but still had to contend with Democrat foot-dragging on confirmation of Supreme Court appointees John Roberts and Samuel Alito. President Bush thought he had a winning issue with Social Security reform and individual accounts, but he sold it poorly. While Bush traveled the country giving speeches on Social Security largely ignored by the media, Democrats told the same adoring media that the best way to “save” Social Security was to do nothing, and they monopolized the airwaves, where most people were listening.

After the Katrina debacle, people lost confidence in the Bush White House, and this was compounded by the mounting troop losses in Iraq in 2006 AFTER the supposed success of the Iraqi elections, but BEFORE the surge belatedly ordered in 2007, after Democrats had taken Congress.

In hindsight, Bush and the Republicans would have had a “window” of about 8 months, when they had 55 Senate seats and before Katrina, to enact pro-market health care reform, in the form of tort reform and portability across state lines. Bush chose to try Social Security reform, which had never been tried before, over health-care reform, which Clinton had tried and it cost him the House. He had the right idea, but he sold it poorly–it might have passed had he stayed in Washington, made some speeches about it from the Oval Office, and worked with Republican leaders in the House and Senate, and a few swing Democrats in the Senate, to craft a plan that could overcome a filibuster. Instead, he tried to “campaign” for it by traveling around and making speeches–the same thing Obama is now doing for health-care, AFTER it passed Congress!

But so much for what Bush and the Republicans of 2001-06 woulda-coulda-shoulda done. ObamaCare has passed Congress, and the American people are dead-set against it. We need to ride their opposition to victory in the House this year, and in the Senate and White House in 2012, with a promise to “repeal and replace” ObamaCare whenever possible, while the taxes are in place and BEFORE anyone gets benefits!

Health-care reform is finally a Republican issue this year, which it has not been since 1994.

Steve Z on April 8, 2010 at 3:01 PM

Republican Richard M. Nixon submitted to Congress a national health care bill in many ways more comprehensive than what Mr. Obama achieved
The plan, of course, was killed dead by the Democrats, led by Edward Kennedy, who later regretted what he had done.
r keller on April 8, 2010 at 1:18 PM

A terrific bit of history. Thanks! No matter what their motives are, Republicans never ever get credit for socialism with an R.

Doctors must practice medicine around the whims of the insurance and that can be as oppressive as government to someone who gets sick. I understand that freer markets and above-board pricing might “punish” these companies constructively, but our prominent conservatives refuse to address the amoral aspects of corporate bean-counting. This contributes to the failure of reform measures from the right.

Feedie on April 8, 2010 at 3:21 PM

Simple, no. ObamaCare really has nothing to do with healthcare, it is total government control over individual liberty.

Or you mean, if GOP could / would mimic a minor form of ‘control’?

Well, that….I don’t know

Sir Napsalot on April 8, 2010 at 3:30 PM

Let’s see:
I’m going to write an article that spreads the responsibility of rogue legislation around to everybody involved, so it will dilute the responsibility of the Totalitarian Democrat Party Government.
That’s how I’ll stir up some controversy.
And watch all the commentators go nuts over this one.

Cybergeezer on April 8, 2010 at 3:31 PM

Any real attempt at significant healthcare reform must have SS and Medicare reform first otherwise costs spiral out of control, as we are all about to see.

True. Bush tried to use momentum from 2004 to reform SS and what did the phony conservatives in the GOP do? Smothered reform in the cradle. The same guys are leading the GOP in DC today. Expecting improvement from these liars is the definition of insanity.

Who could lead? Ryan? He’s a nerd not a leader. He had his chance. After 2006 he was encouraged to take on Boehner but, believe it or not, that twerp felt it would be too disruptive for his family! Imagine if he was in the Marines how disruptive it could be. Besides, he voted for Bush’s bailout.

How ’bout the Senate. Coburn’s obviously too polite. We’ve got Orrin Hatch if we need someone to bend over for Harry. Kyl voted for Bush’s and Obama’s TARP money. DeMint, one of the few possible.

Mighty slim pickin’s.

Who voted against TARP

rcl on April 8, 2010 at 3:31 PM

I agree with Karl. There was NO WAY Bush could have pushed through significant health care reform, and trying to do so would have been a huge political loser.

First, look at the Senate. For first two years, Bush only had 50 plus Cheney for a little bit before Jumpin Jim Jeffords switched parties and Dems controlled Senate. For 2003-04, GOP had 52, but probably had at least 10 moderate GOP Senators that would not have backed true market-based health-care reform. Remember, even mostly conservative Senators like Hatch from Utah pushed the creation of S-CHIP. The best chance would have been 2005-06, when GOP had 55 Senators, but even then they couldn’t get Social Security reform through because of the RINO’s. Heck, they couldn’t even get 50 votes for ANWR. Bush was in the middle of his push for SS reform when Katrina happened, and the Iraq situation deteriorated. Couple those events with the Democrats threatening to filibuster anything significant knowing they had a good chance to makes gains in the 06 elections, and it was IMPOSSIBLE to get market-based HCR through.

Second, if they had tried (and this still stands), it would have been a huge political loser. Remember, the GOP did add HSA’s in 2003 (and expanded them in 2005) and tried to take whatever executive action at HHS they could (not much) to encourage and faciliate improved pricing and quality visibility to consumers. Bush proposed replacing the employer-based tax deduction for health-care with a $15,000 deduction for everyone, exactly the type of reform that is needed to get away from the employer-based system where your employer picks your health-insurance for you.

But try convincing the large number of people who get insurance through their employer, where the costs are mostly hidden to them, and they pay little out of pocket, to support moves towards higher-deductible health plans, where they would have to pay more out of pocket. Try to tell them they are over-insured, and they should take more risk themselves. It is a political loser.

The only way to get reform like that is to look into the abyss of socialized medicine like we are doing now, or to have a concerted multi-year effort with health-care as top priority explaining why health care costs are rising and why the reforms are necessary. Should health care really have been Bush’s top priority for years on end? Would the GOP been as successful in the 2000, 2002, 2004 election had they played on Dems turf?

Ed and a bunch of others need to look at the political realities, and focus on putting the blame for the current HCR bill/law where it belongs, with the Dems.

Then redouble our efforts to educate the public and advocate for market-based reforms, and work tirelessly to get a fiscal-conservative majority in the Senate (which we’ve NEVER had during my lifetime).

willamettevalley on April 8, 2010 at 3:37 PM

Outside of tweaking HSAs to make them more available, the GOP Congress didn’t get anything significant done for market-based HC reform in the Bush years because the squishy RINOs that controlled the Senate don’t lead on issues, they just tweak them. For the most part, these same RINO clowns still control the GOP Senate, except they’ve “lead” the GOP Senate into a leaderless hole filled with barely 41 Senators, on a good day.

drfredc on April 8, 2010 at 3:49 PM

That’s how the Rs play ball in DC.

belad on April 8, 2010 at 2:44 PM

You are right, when you play their democrat game. They suck you into being the party of NO. If the Republicans would have stolen the issue and outsmarted Reid and Pelosi, the dynamics would have been much different. Never let the conpitition define you. Had the GOP leadership been quicker and smarter, they could have beat them at their own game. It was too little too late. They should have seen it coming and been ready from the get go. Instead, they stood around like a bunch of cows till it was too late.

The GOP gets played by them with a little too much regularity for me. Weak leaders produce weak results. Leadership is key.

Think smart, work smart, and win. Instead, they were like the French in 1940, stupified.

saiga on April 8, 2010 at 3:57 PM

There was NO WAY Bush could have pushed through significant health care reform, and trying to do so would have been a huge political loser.

willamettevalley on April 8, 2010 at 3:37 PM

Yea; Bush wouldn’t get elected for a third term, and Congress would have lost numerous Republican seats to Democrats!
AAAAAhaaaaaaaaa!

Cybergeezer on April 8, 2010 at 4:03 PM

The good news it the US is a sleeping giant. Obama has kicked the beehive, and he will get stung. Now is the time for the GOP to ignore the democrat white noise and focus on a smart plan to bypass the dems and win with a superior stadegy focused on the future and lay out a crystal clear vision of who we are, what we are, and where we need to go from here.

Go straight to the voters with the best vision and plan, and the dems will be crushed under their own weight. Their vision of the nanny state is deeply flawed, but the Republicans are focused on beating the dems instead of winning the public hearts and minds. Leadership is the key.

I have seen none of that yet.

saiga on April 8, 2010 at 4:09 PM

The time is NOW to get working on a new generation “Contract with America”. Win the people, and the dems are beat as a consequence. Focusing on the dems gets you caught in a fur ball.

Also, it is OK to steal democrat ideas if they are useful. Abandon partisan bickering, and ignore the dems. The stakes are too high to let them drive the public debate. You have to be different to be better, and it’s time to do something new and different. The pulic aches for it.

saiga on April 8, 2010 at 4:19 PM

It’s clear that the Republican congress worked with Bush to pass an agenda which was contrary to the welfare of taxpayers, was not consistent with constitutional principles, and which led to Obama.

Education is a state function, but they passed no child left behind. The results are in and there is absolutely no improvement from NCLB. Bush just further federalized education. Same with Medicare Part D. The Bush tax cuts also took a ton of people off the income tax rolls and resulted in more welfare being paid to lower income earners in the form of the “earned income credit”. The compassionate conservative philosophy was very bad for those of us who are conservatives.

Moral of the story: don’t trust the Republican party to act in your interest. We must take control of it and dictate its agenda in 2010 or start a third party.

chris999 on April 8, 2010 at 5:24 PM

The GOP had total control of Congress from 2002 to 2006, and the only significant plan they put forward on health care was the creation of the Medicare Part D entitlement that did little but to speed the coming collapse of Medicare. In that effort, the Republican majority did everything that the GOP has rightly accused the Democrats of doing this time around – such as using statist solutions to a problem where market-based solutions existed, and fudging the numbers to fool people into believing it wouldn’t cost too much.

Medicare Part D came in under budget, how many programs can you say that about? And considering how much the Democrats hate it and want to change it apparently they do not understand that is statist..etc. And Bush and the Republicans went along with a plan like this so that they could git Medicare Advantage and Health Savings Accounts.

The Republicans never did have the kind of majorities the Democrats had, even in 1994. They could not do just whatever they wanted without some bipartisan support along the way.

And if they had made an issue of health care, conservatives would have complained about it anyway. All this back seat driving and hind sight and second guessing is fun and easy for the people who talk and write for a living, but in the real world it means little.

Terrye on April 8, 2010 at 5:58 PM

The Bush tax cuts also took a ton of people off the income tax rolls and resulted in more welfare being paid to lower income earners in the form of the “earned income credit”. The compassionate conservative philosophy was very bad for those of us who are conservatives.

So, conservatives should be happy because Obama is going to rescind all those tax cuts. This is so ridiculous, conservatives are complaining that people making less than $12,500 a year are not paying income taxes? No, they did not end up on welfare either, there is no indication that raising the minimum on who pays income taxes put people on welfare. In fact Bush’s tax cuts helped create one of the largest expansions in history and that in turn took people off of the rolls. But hey, go ahead, tell people that being a conservative means you are not compassionate and you want to force people living in poverty to pay more taxes.

Terrye on April 8, 2010 at 6:01 PM

Besides, if the conservatives wanted to make an issue of health care, they should have made it plain that was their desire. After all, they did not have a problem making an issue of immigration. So maybe the Republicans did not push health care because conservatives had ceded the entire issue to Democrats.

Terrye on April 8, 2010 at 6:13 PM

Cybergeezer on April 8, 2010 at 4:03 PM

What, you wanted Bush to add an unpopular health care bill that had no chance to Katrina and the War to complete a trifecta and hand Democrats a filibuster-proof majority 2 years ahead of schedule?

It would be one thing if they had a chance of getting it through, but why pay a political price for something that is not going to pass anyway?!

willamettevalley on April 8, 2010 at 7:11 PM

It would be one thing if they had a chance of getting it through, but why pay a political price for something that is not going to pass anyway?!

willamettevalley on April 8, 2010 at 7:11 PM

You obviously fell for the media spin about GW & GOP falling poll numbers. Understandable living in tie-dyed La La Land. When Bush & Repubs started falling below 40% approval the bulk of the loss was conservatives and independents turned off by their bribes, lies and the pre-surge pussy-footing in Iraq.

If you aren’t pushing forward you are losing ground. Pushing a smaller government reform regardless their success would have defined the GOP as something other than a pack of fat-assed phonies.

Better yet it would have helped delineate the Dems as liberals. Since the GOP stood for nothing other than the War On Terror Obama could paint himself as an open-minded non-partisan on domestic issues. If the Repubs had fought some battles to rollback entitlements and spending there would have been a record on such issues that could have defined Obama and his party as the socialists they are.

By doing nothing the GOP proved themselves content with the status quo. If you bothered to listen you’d have noticed that during the closing drive to get HCR passed BHO pounded repeatedly that the only thing the GOP did to fix Healthcare when they had the chance was pass a gigantic entitlement that was totally unfunded and will create massive future deficits. You know what, HE WAS 100% CORRECT.

The GOP followed your plan to the letter and virtually guaranteed Obama’s victory.

rcl on April 9, 2010 at 8:23 AM

Let’s face it;
Congress is infested with an organized group of criminals that have only one agenda;
To pass costly legislation which makes them feel powerful, and enrich themselves in the process.
Congress is the most extravagant country club in the world.

Cybergeezer on April 9, 2010 at 10:01 AM

willamettevalley on April 8, 2010 at 7:11 PM

The Republicans DID have a health care plan, but did not push it through, since health care has been “owned” by the Democrats for decades.
Don’t you remember how incensed Ted Kennedy was that Bush was attempting to get healthcare legislation moving through Congress?
Republicans had their chance to pass a plan that was much less expensive and intrusive on the American public, that could have shut down the opportunity for Democrats to make it into the disaster it is today.

Cybergeezer on April 9, 2010 at 10:16 AM