I should have seen it at the time, but now, it is clear to me just how important it was for Democrats to pass Health Care Reform, in any condition. Even torn to shreds. Getting it done early in 2010 was absolutely essential.
Because that was the one chance that Democrats had of holding seats in November.
It’s a gambit that tries our souls and puts folks on both the left and right on edge. By completing the effort early in the year, Democrats have essentially taken ownership of the election, or at least taken a position that gives them a stronger political advantage. That is, stronger than they would have had if they had tried and failed to complete the work, or completed it in late summer or early fall.
The manner in which Republicans play this out over the next several months will have a greater impact than anything. Even though a majority of Americans opposed the Democrats plan, ultimately the tide will shift on the perceived benefit of those in the middle. Already, some Republicans are seeing the challenge of continuing to fight this head on .
Now, instead of fighting against a bad idea, instead of promoting a smarter model for Americans to address the real Health Care issues at hand, Republicans who go all in with the “Repeal ObamaCare” crowd will be quickly branded as trying to take away rights, because that’s what entitlements are to those who receive them. Although the early days after the signing of the bill into law saw many Republican Legislators and Candidates clamoring to proclaim their commitment to repeal it, they might as well now be committing to drop Social Security, Medicare, Unemployment, Baseball, Apple Pie and Breathing.
Regardless of the right or wrong in your political discourse, elections hinge on perception. One could make an irrefutable case for providing better quality health care at a lower cost, but the evidence would become so much blather in the face of chants that Republicans (EVIL Republicans) want to take away “free” health care.
The facts that the new law is full of so much junk (that’s my code for earmarks), that the financial model is consistently misrepresented by the Left (meaning the CBO report, while accurate, is over simplified), and that health care costs overall are certain to increase dramatically as a result of this legislation (weren’t we trying to reduce costs?), have already been forgotten. Any attempt to promote a blanket repeal of this law will play well with conservatives and libertarians, but is likely to fall on deaf ears amongst Moderates who would much rather see the law fixed than scrubbed. Having passed the bill, Democrats now have an upper hand.
But they don’t have to.
The key warning here is, that although conservatives like myself would love to wake up and read the headline “ObamaCare Repealed By 112th Congress”, and we love to hear candidates proclaim their commitment to reversing the law, and it is so easy energize the base by just saying you are going to repeal the law, it is dishonest to tell people it is that simple. And it is highly unlikely to happen that way.
Better to have a plan that will gain broad support and have a positive impact on the lives of all Americans, by maintaining our cherished liberties and ensuring basic needs can be met. This is possible. This will take work. This will take some explaining. And it will be difficult to encapsulate into a 15 second sound bite.
As painful as it might be, the time may be here for analyzing the legislation that is now in place and producing a bill (or multiple bills) to correct it’s most insipid problems. New legislation that keeps the parts of the current law that are actually useful (as few as they may be) and puts forth a plan to maintain the integrity of our social order while ensuring that all Americans have access to quality health care. A plan to actually reduce what we already know to be a burgeoning level of cost for a health care system that could be less costly, less litigious, less fraudulent, and accessible to all.
One more thing. If Republicans can put together (and gain broad candidate support for) such a plan, we might even get painted as the folks that helped avoid years of fighting in court over 10th Amendment States Rights to eliminate the legislation. Do it right and we could gain bipartisan support to see the plan through.
Then, instead of the obstructionist label we hold right now, we can be seen as the party that makes a difference, that brings value, that serves the greater good.