Republicans have painted themselves into a corner by pursuing a policy of knee jerk opposition to whatever the Obama Administration and Democrats as a whole are in favor of. Back in May (One way for the Democrats to win: Propose everything) I wrote:
A group of right-wingers are pushing Speaker John Boehner to reject so-called ObamaCare in its entirety, including popular provisions such as allowing parents to keep their kids on their insurance until age 26, prohibiting discrimination based on pre-existing conditions, and closing the Medicare drug benefit’s donut hole.
From a Tea Party standpoint, the Affordable Care Act must look like a Communist plot, but in fact it is a fairly moderate piece of legislation that excludes things like single-payer and even a government run insurance scheme.
So here’s an idea for Democrats: propose all sorts of measures, especially those that Republicans have traditionally agreed with. Since there’s such a strong knee jerk response to any Democrat’s ideas, it seems like a pretty good way to paint the GOP into a corner. Bill Clinton actually did a version of this, taking credit for arguably Republican ideas such as welfare reform. (He balanced the budget, too.)
With the way the Tea Party has set itself up, Obama doesn’t need to be nearly so clever as Clinton. He just has to propose a set of right-of-center ideas and see the GOP marginalize itself over the next few years.
Now Mitt Romney has made himself look foolish by saying he would retain some ObamaCare provisions. It seems he favors all the items I mentioned in my prior post, although he uses some weasel words that indicate he may not be completely serious. Romney has a few problems here. If he wants to dump ObamaCare on “Day One” how is he going to save the popular parts? If he likes parts of ObamaCare is he really a “true conservative?” Perhaps most important, by highlighting some good pieces of the Affordable Care Act Romney may inadvertently make the law as a whole more popular.
Perhaps now is the time for Democrats to induce Republicans to further marginalize themselves on health care by adopting some of the more innocuous provisions of GOP health care policy such as allowing health plans to sell policies across state lines, establishing small business purchasing pools and pursuing tort reform. Those meager proposals comprise the majority of Republican ideas to “replace” ObamaCare.
It leaves the GOP with just two main ideas: turning Medicaid into block grants to the states and making health insurance premiums tax deductible for individuals. I don’t think Democrats could swallow the idea of block grants, but probably could live with making health insurance tax deductible for individuals. Therefore they should go ahead and propose it.
With a broad health care platform like that, what exactly would be left for Republicans to propose in health care other than restricting reproductive rights and benefits for same sex couples?