You can thank the Republicans for delivering health reform

President Obama and House Speaker Pelosi did a masterful job bringing the health care reform bill to fruition. A couple months ago after Scott Brown’s election here in Massachusetts it sure didn’t look likely a smiling Obama would be signing the measure today. And yet here we are. But it wouldn’t have been possible without help from the Republican party.

What am I talking about, you ask?

By and large the American people want to see bipartisanship. The Democrats bent over backwards to include Republicans in drafting the health reform bill. Sen. Max Baucus in particular worked hard to bring along Chuck Grassley and Olympia Snowe. As Noam Schreiber points out in The New Republic:

“In retrospect, it appears that Baucus’s Republican interlocutors… either were never really serious about cutting a deal or, more likely, came under so much pressure from their GOP colleagues that they couldn’t cut one even if they wanted to.”

And House Republicans were like sheep: not a single one was prepared to vote for reform.

Republicans have tried hard to make it look like they are the ones being done down, with continuous exhortations to “start over” and “work with us.” With hypocritical statements like this, it became fairly straightforward for Obama to orchestrate the so-called “bipartisan health care summit.” At that meeting it became clear to the average American that Obama was trying harder at bipartisanship than the Republicans. The icing on the cake was when Obama signaled his willingness to adopt some Republican suggestions coming out of the summit.

My biggest chuckles have been with Republicans complaining about Democrats using unfair processes and not accepting the will of the people. I might have taken that notion seriously 15 years ago but after two George W. Bush terms the Republicans have absolutely zero credibility in this regard. An even bigger laugher was the attempt to cast aspersions on the bill with references to its length.

At the end of the day, the American public as a whole is likely to conclude that the Democrats played fair and thought for themselves. After all, unlike Republicans, not all Democrats voted in lockstep.

I also think that Americans may look negatively at some of the recent behavior displayed by Republican members of the House, including Rep. Randy Neugebauer calling anti-abortion Democratic Rep. Bart Stupak a “baby killer,” and Republican Congressman cheering protesters in the gallery who broke the rules by shouting “Kill the bill.” All of this follows on Rep Joe Wilson’s heckling of the President with his famous, “You lie.”

Count me among those who would like to see bipartisanship. In particular I wish Congress could have worked together to craft a bill that did more to promote inter-generational equity. It was galling to me to see Republicans denouncing potential cuts to Medicare in order to score points with seniors by scaring them about health care reform. It’s totally unprincipled. And I’m upset that there is some closing of the doughnut hole for Medicare prescription drug benefits in this bill. If anything the hole should be widened or the doughnut (i.e., Medicare Part D) be taken away completely.

Don’t be shocked  when in a few years –once the excitement of the current moment passes and attempts at repeal fade away– to see Republicans defending Federal health care spending that’s part of the current bill.

You don’t really expect Republicans to run on a platform of restoring the ability of health insurers to discriminate based on pre-existing conditions, do you?

12 thoughts on “You can thank the Republicans for delivering health reform

  1. Brad Kramer

    Right on target as usual, David. The one or two Republicans in Congress who wanted to make a serious attempt at bipartisanship were bullied into joining the GOP’s lock-step opposition. Once again proving that the GOP never misses an opportunity to miss an opportunity. Now, they are reduced to whining about it, and waiting for a) a GOP return to power in Congress and the White House (fueled by all the confusion they’ve managed to create), or b) the Supreme Court to continue its assault on the Supremacy Clause by overturning the law, c) none of which will come to pass, God willing.

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  2. pidgas

    Pelosi’s “masterful” accomplishment was cajoling ~85% of her own caucus to vote for a tainted bill representing the number one domestic priority of her own party’s president 14 months after he took office using legislative gimmicks and bareknuckle politics. Reid’s great accomplishment was getting his caucus to create that tainted bill stuffed with shocking bribery and pass it in an extraordinary Christmas eve legislative session. Both of them and President Obama engaged in willful deceit about the costs that was shocking (and that should have the “Bush Lied” crowd howling from the rafters).

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  3. gary

    Max baucus is a Socialist in step with Barack Obama and the other socialists who have lied to the American people to take office but now go against the will of the people.

    Here in Montana, Baucus trys to act like he is a true Montanan. Yet a true Montanan would never vote to ruin the inherent freedom of the individual. By not standing up to Obama and the Marxist agenda, Max Baucus is killing small business and the future of our children.

    How is he killing our future?

    THE MAX BAUCUS HEALTHCARE PORTA-POTTY BILL, festering away with disease and stink and bile, Baucus’ virulent tax bacteria waiting to crawl out of his healthcare Porta-Potty sewer hole, up into our most vulnerable parts.

    MAX BAUCUS and fellow Montana Socialist JON TESTER are screwing the voters over with their healthcare fiasco, and now the voters are supposed to forget all about their healthcare vote against Montana kids and focus on other business, like we are too stupid to see Baucus’ real agenda, like we will divert our attention from the real problem—Max Baucus—and this will save his sold-out soul from defeat in the next election.

    Yeah, MAX, you sold out our kids, and Montanans are so stupid they will now divert their senses from the stinking healthcare Porta-Potty you are tipping over in the laps of our children’s future.

    Metaphorically, it is as though you are sticking a hunting knife in our backs and telling us to ignore it and go back to work, like we won’t feel anything is wrong as you drain our blood away.

    You think you can get reelected in the next election?

    Like we are supposed to forget about the fatal stab you are giving our children’s future?

    MAX SOCIALIST BAUCUS, WE ARE GOING TO VOTE YOU OUT OF OFFICE.

    We are going to put YOU and the idiots who work for you out of work and send you straight to the unemployment lines where you are sending our children. We are going to take YOUR PAYCHECKS away because we don’t want to give you our tax money to stab us in the back and dump your bait and switch bile on our kids anymore.

    We’ll look the other way and forget about the Porta-Potty mess you are dumping all over us, the knife you are sticking in our backs. You bet.

    Max the Socialist, you are taking our money NOW to pay a debt for things you stole long ago. You want my kids’ money to fund a system that does not work. This is the old way of business in Washington, but when it comes to transforming our country into your socialist utopia, this old way does not work.

    You are reforming nothing with your “healthcare reform.” You are stealing our money to pay for your crap legislation. You aren’t from Montana. You sold us out. You are big sky garbage.

    We are on to you and we will not forget.

    Here in Montana, you are Big Sky Scum

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  4. hitch

    And it’s smug, self-rightous commentary like this that will keep the partisan fires burning. I guess boorish behavior from the “loyal opposition” was only acceptable and patriotic during the last administration.

    Real healthcare reform would have been great. This was an omnibus fiasco.

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  5. Foggy Draper

    Who cares who is to blame? If the majority of the polls showed that American’s were happy with the current system then why change it?

    Will this bill give incentives to Med school’s to produce more physicians? For those that even pursue the medical career now, will this bill give them incentive to go the primary care route vs. a more lucrative specialty? Will anyone want to practice medicine anymore when they realize their checks won’t come nearly as soon as they currently do now that they’ll be delivered via the government?

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  6. C3

    Not to sound too partisan but can’t it rightly be stated that only thing bipartisan about the bill was the opposition to it?

    As a doc I can certainly sympathize with the desire to improve access to health care for all Americans.

    As a moderate Republican I had great difficulty with such a massive bill that required “creative accounting” to “bend the cost curve”. So from my perspective that alone was enough to oppose the bill.

    could the Republicans have “played it” better? Maybe so but I concluded a year ago that Congress would pass something. I mean the Dems had the majorities. Politically, the big question is what will happen this November

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  7. hitch

    I wasn’t referring to any high profile incidents on the hill, just the broad-based mean-spirited, incivility in general. Improving access is a noble objective, but the math is highly suspect and it’s a bit unsettling that legislation this historic and morally charged is chock full of back room pork. And, until recently, I never realized Medicare and Medicaid were such well run programs and worthy of expansion. I’m far from supportive of the GOP’s somewhat childish tactics, but they weren’t technically involved in authoring the legislation – only asked to comment after the fact.

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  8. Mitch

    You’re absolutely correct on your commentary here. The Republicans did nothing to try to have any type of bipartisanship with this bill. The party of no basically got exactly what they put out over all 8 Bush years.

    This bill isn’t close to perfect, but neither was Social Security or Medicare, and those got passed. Seems to me that the people who are railing against you are just like the people who used all those racial epithets, the same ones who are threatening to kill Democrats who voted for the bill and have thrown bricks and rocks through windows, and the same ones who tried to vote down the 1964 Civil Rights Bill and became Republicans when they couldn’t defeat it.

    Folks, the bill is here, and it’s staying, and it’s really not that big a deal. Either decide to try to make it better or just go away. Great post, David.

    Reply
  9. Pingback: Grand Rounds: Health Care Reform Edition « See First Blog

  10. John R. Graham

    “You don’t really expect Republicans to run on a platform of restoring the ability of health insurers to discriminate based on pre-existing conditions, do you?”

    Well, given that that “insurance” cannot exist when it is illegal to charge actuarially fair premiums, I suppose that I do expect them to run on that. That’s why HIPAA limited such protection to those with continuous creditable coverage. Or do you expect the Democrats to run on making it illegal for auto insurers to “discriminate” based on previous accidents, too?

    Reply

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