Sunday, February 28, 2010

GOP Standing In Opposition

Senator Judd Gregg (R-NH), the day before the summit, told GOP TV's Greta van Susteren "I think there's going to be a bit of a kabuki dance tomorrow." But he probably doesn't understand that, according to Wikipedia, "Kabuki theatre is known for the stylization of its drama and for the elaborate make-up worn by some of its performers," that "kabuki can be interpreted as 'avant-garde' or 'bizarre' theatre."

Instead, we all could have skipped the health care forum (transcripts of each speaker here) at the Blair House in Washington when, Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, lead-off batter for the Republican Party of No, stated:

But we think to do that we have to start by taking the current bill and putting it on the shelf and starting from a clean sheet of paper.

John McCain added

So when my constituents and Americans now who overwhelming reject this proposal say go back to the beginning, they want us to go back to the beginning.

Representative Dave Camp of Michigan stated

And the American people are telling us that the individual -- the mandates, the requirements to buy insurance are something that they want us to scrap and start over on.

The GOP's newest policy wonk, Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, similarly urged

So what we simply want to do is start over, work on a clean- sheeted paper, move through these issues, step by step, and fix them, and bring down health care costs and not raise them. And that's basically the point.

House Minority Leader John Boehner maintained

And I can tell you the thing that I've heard more than anything over the last six or seven months is that the American people want us to scrap this bill. They've said it loud, they've said it clear.

Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming claimed

....only one in three people of American support what is being proposed here. And that's why so many people, Mr. President, are saying it's time to start over.

Representative Peter Roskam of Illinois, after gravely noting "this is not a prop. This is the Senate bill," offered this metaphor:

And they say, look, take the Etch A Sketch, go like this, let's start over, let's do incremental things where there's common ground.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell remarked

The solution to that is to put that on the shelf and to start over with a blank piece of paper and go step by step to see what we can agree on to improve the American health care system....

But it was summed up best in the closing portion of the comments of Representative Joe Barton of Texas when he stated, really

So what we're saying, Mr. President, we're not talking about incrementalism. We're talking about, as Leader Boehner said and Mr. McConnell -- Senator McConnell said, let's start over in the sense that we change the vision and work together to do the things that we agree upon, but do it in way that doesn't destroy the fundamental market system that's made the American health care system the best in the world.

This is not serious. Eight Republican members of Congress know that Americans are tired of hearing about health care with nothing being accomplished. They know this is an election year and little gets done in even-numbered years. And their remedy: let's start over; re-invent the wheel.

But they were consistent. To Barton, it was "the American health care system" as "the best in the world." He wasn't alone- McConnell referred to "the American health care system which is already, as all of us agree, the finest in the world." And Boehner claimed "We may have problems in our health care system, but we do have the best health care system in the world by far.

Why wouldn't a Party whose leading congressional members believe we have the best health care system in the world want to destroy any chance at reforming that system? Well, not any chance- if it bolsters "the fundamental market system" that has given us the highest health care costs in the world, business (employment) decisions based on the cost of health care in an employer-based system, consumers dropped from insurance once they need it, denial of insurance because of pre-existing conditions, more than 39 million citizens without care, and inadequate outcomes, it would be just fine.

But at least those health insurance companies are happy. No, there was nothing bizarre about the summit- which was as inconsequential as Senator Gregg thought it would be. It was just the same old Party, content with the status quo, standing as one and shouting: "Never!"

1 comment:

Dan said...

This was quite a one-sided, kinda ridiculous post.

Sure, we could of skipped the summit because the Republicans wanted the bill scrapped, like you argue. I actually think the more pressing reason we could have skipped the summit was because the Democrats never intended to seriously negotiate a bipartisan solution.

The stated purpose of the summit was to have a bipartisan discussion of the major issues involved with health care and to try and find some common ground for a solution that would best address these problems.

You can't just fault Republicans for arguing to abandon the bill and restart the process without equally faulting democrats, who had no intention of abandoning or seriously altering the existing bill at all. The President's real purpose for the summit was clearly not the stated purpose, but rather to paint the image that he tried to be bipartisan and it didn't work, so he therefore has to move ahead alone with democrats. It was also a nice opportunity to rally dems and try and persuade the public.

The Republicans primary demand was that the bill be scrapped because you can't seriously be negotiating for a bipartisan solution if you start with a partisan bill that no one likes. In the beginning of the summit, the President noted several areas of common ground, as did Republicans. Rather than work off of these, the President refused to abandon the bill and instead argued that the bill incorporates many of these ideas. He said he'd think about ideas, but baby steps don't work and Republicans should "soul-search".

Aside for your utter astonishment that Republicans would not support the existing bill, you then claim the want nothing done at all:

"It was just the same old Party, content with the status quo, standing as one and shouting: "Never!"

Every Republican argued that the status quo was unacceptable and listed several changes that needed to be made to health care, including ending dropping people for pre-existing conditions, allowing purchasing over state lines, and the plan to extend coverage by 3 million. You may not think these solutions are the right ones or are enough to truly solve the health care crisis, but you cannot falsely claim they want nothing done. It's the equivalent of saying the democrats want the government to control all of health care.

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