Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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July 23, 2009

A 'SOLUTIONS GROUP' WITH NO SOLUTIONS.... When House Republicans go on the attack against health care reform, one of the more common responses is to ask, "OK, but where's the Republican plan?" It's easy to attack; it's challenging to be productive.

Last night, The Hill reported that the GOP caucus has effectively given up on offering an alternative, and will instead stick to attacking.

Republicans who had promised last month to offer a healthcare reform alternative are now suggesting no such bill will be introduced.

Rep. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) said, "Our bill is never going to get to the floor, so why confuse the focus? We clearly have principles; we could have language, but why start diverting attention from this really bad piece of work they've got to whatever we're offering right now?"

Blunt, who is running for Senate, is chairman of the House GOP Health Care Solutions Group. Cantor made similar comments to The Hill in June, saying Republicans would eventually offer legislative language on healthcare reform.

Democrats on Wednesday called out Republicans, reminding reporters in an e-mail that Blunt had guaranteed that the GOP would introduce a bill.

All things being equal, the GOP is probably making the right call by failing to offer an alternative. In fact, if I were a Republican strategist, I'd probably advise the party to do exactly this. Producing a GOP reform plan would not only give Democrats a target, it would offer people a chance to compare the two approaches to the issue, and in a side-by-side match-up, it's hardly a stretch to think the Dems would come out on top.

What's more, the Republican track record on alternative solutions is truly abysmal. The GOP budget alternative was a humiliating failure (you may recall, it lacked numbers). The GOP stimulus alternative -- tax cuts and a five-years spending freeze -- was so ridiculous, even some conservatives labeled it "insane." With this in mind, there's no need for the party to humiliate itself with a health care plan.

But this route is not without costs. For one thing, Republican leaders promised to offer an alternative, and it's embarrassing to have to go back on this promise. For another, by failing to even try to play a constructive role, it's that much easier to characterize the minority as the "party of no."

Indeed, we're left with a dynamic in which the "GOP Health Care Solutions Group" has decided not to offer any health care solutions. For a party that has already lost its policy credibility, this won't help.

Steve Benen 9:20 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (22)

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GOP Health Care Plan:

1. Give all your money to the insurance companies.

2. Die.

Posted by: Joey Giraud on July 23, 2009 at 9:21 AM | PERMALINK

Your proposition may be good
But let's have one thing understood
Whatever it is, I'm against it.

-Prof. Quincy Adams Wagstaff

Posted by: howie on July 23, 2009 at 9:21 AM | PERMALINK

I want to see Democrats HAMMERING them on this, every single day.

Posted by: Steve LaBonne on July 23, 2009 at 9:23 AM | PERMALINK

"For a party that has already lost its policy credibility, this won't help."

Not a problem for the Republicans in the Senate, they have some colleagues on the other side of the aile that are only too happy to lend them a hand.

The US Senate is a wonderful institution.

Posted by: SRW1 on July 23, 2009 at 9:24 AM | PERMALINK

Can't they just roll out the boilerplate giving tax deductions and credits to people who do not have enough income to pay taxes?

Posted by: bob h on July 23, 2009 at 9:35 AM | PERMALINK

After all this time I suppose they just could not come up with enough flowery language to obfuscate the main point of their healthcare legislation: a massive tax break for the wealthy.

Posted by: Capt Kirk on July 23, 2009 at 9:35 AM | PERMALINK

This is a similar approach they had to the ladies in high school: You know, I have an awesome personality. Why should I show it? You'll never love me for me. So here's some money. Crawl for it, skank.

Posted by: slappy magoo on July 23, 2009 at 9:38 AM | PERMALINK

no. it isn't about a "target" because whether or not the Repubs produce a plan, they get a target on them.

without anything new to offer, the "target" is that the Repubs want the status quo...

they got nothing... so they want this shit to keep on happening and keep on getting worse and worse...

right, Al?

Posted by: neill on July 23, 2009 at 9:45 AM | PERMALINK

We don't need a solution to a problem that doesn't exist. America has the best health care system in the world. Liberals are just using this to further their big-government agenda.

Posted by: Al on July 23, 2009 at 9:49 AM | PERMALINK

'Dem damn Dems! It never ceases to amaze me how impotent the dems are when it comes to taking the offense on stuff like this. EVERY single Dem should be demanding republicans offer their alternative. "Where's the Republican alternative? Let's see it!"

It would control the debate.

It would distract republicans.

It would frame republicans as defenders of the status quo.

Why are the Democrats so unwilling to be aggressive? It's not for a lack of spine; amoebas don't have spines.

Posted by: Hank on July 23, 2009 at 9:51 AM | PERMALINK

Yes, Al. If you close your eyes and ears so that you can't see that there is a problem you can deny that there is any need to solve the problem you ignore.

Where is this alleged ...best health care system in the world? As far as I can see, there is no system, just a hodge-podge of health care providers, insurance companies, non-profits, and snake-oil salesmen all preying on those with money who fear real or imagined illnesses.

There is no system to the mess.

Posted by: Rick B on July 23, 2009 at 9:59 AM | PERMALINK

The GOP Health Plan, courtesy of Plato:

When a carpenter is ill he asks the physician for a rough and ready cure; an emetic or a purge or a cautery or the knife, --these are his remedies. And if some one prescribes for him a course of dietetics, and tells him that he must swathe and swaddle his head, and all that sort of thing, he replies at once that he has no time to be ill, and that he sees no good in a life which is spent in nursing his disease to the neglect of his customary employment; and therefore bidding good-bye to this sort of physician, he resumes his ordinary habits, and either gets well and lives and does his business, or, if his constitution falls, he dies and has no more trouble.
(The Republic, Book III)

Posted by: Virginia on July 23, 2009 at 10:09 AM | PERMALINK

The Congressional Democrats need to make up healthcare cards (like a Medicare card) that say:

| Republican Healthcare Reform

Posted by: Joe Friday on July 23, 2009 at 10:09 AM | PERMALINK

The Dems should point out, loud and clear, that it's a good thing the GOP is no longer in charge because nothing would get done on healthcare and the economy would be in worse shape than it is now.

Republicans: The Party of No!

Posted by: Marko on July 23, 2009 at 10:18 AM | PERMALINK

If it's the job of Senators to simply win reelection then fine, don't offer an alternative. But if it's their job to actually represent the people of the US then get to work and do the F**** job you were hired to do. Legislate!

Posted by: cmm on July 23, 2009 at 10:19 AM | PERMALINK

I am more and more convinced that the Republican problems mirror the problems I see in persons in management positions. For a long time, businesses only had to exist to make money ... ride the wave so to speak. So too did the elected Republicans for 8 years. Even more so for them because whatever the white house wanted, they supported, they could have been and were essentially brain dead.

Now though, in tough times, it takes some smarts to succeed. Clearly the Republicans have no idea how to make decisions and govern when the going is tough. In the business world, I see managers that succeeded in good times and now is the first "tough time" they have had to deal with and many, many of them have no clue.

Textbook definition of the peter principle which didn't manifest itself until now.

Posted by: Wayne on July 23, 2009 at 10:22 AM | PERMALINK

When are all of you Libs going to understand that Medical Malpractice is Killing insurance companies, thus driving premiums to the sky? Why, it affected United Healthcare so much, they only reported an increase of 155 per cent in earnings. Damn those ambulance chasers for holding that down from 550 per cent.

Thanks, United for announcing that info. Kinda timely, eh?

Posted by: berttheclock on July 23, 2009 at 11:06 AM | PERMALINK

one of the more common responses is to ask, "OK, but where's the Republican plan?"

It's not one of the more common responses from the White House. Why not?

Posted by: Steve M. on July 23, 2009 at 11:08 AM | PERMALINK

If Republicans want to shut down the government, then they had better think that through.

After all, that would include the military, street repair, enforcement of intellectual property rights, police protection of wealth, etc.....

Posted by: Duncan Kinder on July 23, 2009 at 11:50 AM | PERMALINK

...there's no need for the party to humiliate itself..." Steve Benen
Why not?

Posted by: Doug on July 23, 2009 at 8:24 PM | PERMALINK

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Posted by: Valeria on March 16, 2010 at 12:33 PM | PERMALINK

This made me smile and hopefully after your last post it will do the same for you:

Married men live longer than single men, but they’re a lot more willing to die. :)

Posted by: Kip Regler on August 26, 2010 at 11:39 AM | PERMALINK
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