Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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April 8, 2010

THEY JUST DON'T CARE ABOUT SUBSTANCE AND POLICY.... Whenever I write about my concerns that Republican lawmakers don't seem to know anything about public policy, I invariably get emails pushing back. Just because GOP leaders take a different approach, doesn't mean they're dumb, I'm told. They must know substantive details, I'm reminded. After all, they're experienced politicians responsible for shaping U.S. policy at the federal level.

I can appreciate why the premise seems implausible, but consider a classic example from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Jay Bookman.

This week, Bookman and other AJC editors and columnists participated in an 80-minute interview with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.). Both agreed that they had serious objections to the Affordable Care Act, but said they intended to keep some provisions of the new law, including protections for those with pre-existing conditions. The individual mandate, however, would have to go, the conservative senators said.

Readers of this blog probably already recognize the problem here. If those with pre-existing conditions will be protected, the mandate is necessary to keep costs from spiraling and to prevent the "free rider" problem.

Bookman understands this. The senators don't.

If you somehow tell companies they can no longer deny coverage of pre-existing conditions, you need to provide them another way to eliminate free riders. Under the new law, individual mandates are that tool. As long as everyone is required to have coverage, nobody can game the system and there's no longer any justification to deny coverage based on pre-existing conditions.

So if the GOP plan is going to ensure that pre-existing conditions are covered, as Chambliss and McConnell suggested, how would they do it without individual mandates? What mechanism would they use?

Chambliss and McConnell had no answer. Literally.

After Chambliss fumbled an initial response, McConnell broke in with a long and familiar condemnation of the Democratic plan, including its failure to include tort reform. After a few minutes, I interrupted and brought him back to the question: OK, but how are the Republicans going to cover pre-existing conditions?

"The premiums are going up either way," he said.

OK, I responded, a little stunned. That doesn't explain how the Republicans intend to cover pre-existing conditions.

"The premiums are going up either way," he repeated.

That was that. We moved on, and I still don't have my answer.

Let's be clear about this. After over a year of debate about health care policy, two leading Senate Republicans, including the Senate Minority Leader, can't speak intelligently about the basics. Bookman didn't throw a curve ball at them, quizzing them on some obscure provision -- this was an easy one for anyone with a basic understanding of what policymakers have been discussing since early last year.

They want protections for those with pre-existing conditions, and want to eliminate the mandate, but asked how that could work, these experienced senators have no idea how to even begin answering the question.

They have their talking points, but if anyone dares to scratch the surface, even a little, they're completely lost.

Anyone who thinks Republican lawmakers are well-informed, thoughtful public officials, with a working knowledge of public policy, simply isn't paying attention.

Steve Benen 12:30 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (57)

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Steve, you're wrong. Maybe I'll email you, not sure if you ever read the comments.

What you don't seem able to understand is that this isn't a debate between two parties which have different visions of how gov't should function. This is a debate between one party with various visions of how gov't should function and one party that wants to see gov't fail. The whole 'drown in a bathtub thing'--that's not just empty talk.

So yes, they do have a different approach. And yes, they do know the substantive details. They just can't -admit- them. They can't say, 'We're fighting against the continued functioning of the US government,' except in certain conferences and magazines, and they've got no other answer. You can fault them for wanting the government to fail, and you can fault them for not having developed better lies, but you can't fault them for not understanding. They understand.

Posted by: gussie on April 8, 2010 at 12:29 PM | PERMALINK

I'm sure there are plenty of repubs out there with a thorough grasp of the mechanics of any subject or policy. The problem is that those types of republicans can't seem to survive their primaries. The republican base demands crazy ill-informed sloganeers, and that's what they elect.

Posted by: JoeW on April 8, 2010 at 12:34 PM | PERMALINK

The GOP is no longer a legitimate, viable political party. It's a cult, plain and simple.

Posted by: citizen_pain on April 8, 2010 at 12:36 PM | PERMALINK

Devastating. More articles like this, please.

Posted by: McKee on April 8, 2010 at 12:38 PM | PERMALINK

The individual mandate is needed in order to maintain the role of the for-profit insurance corporations as the foundation of America's health care system, so that they can continue to make obscene profits while providing absolutely nothing of value.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on April 8, 2010 at 12:41 PM | PERMALINK

What's really sad is that there are viable alternatives to the mandate, although I don't really see them as being more palatable over all.

1. Adopte open enrollment system on the Exchange. Unless you have a change in family or job circumstances, you have to select a plan between November 15 and December 31. That's how the FEHBP and Medicare Part D work. If you get sick on January 9, you have to wait a year (but I wouldn't make someone wait more than that -- the goal is to get them in the system, not punish them unduly).

2. People who wait to enrolle will pay more, permanently, as an actuarial adjustment for the fact that they didn't pay in right from the beginning.

Or you can do a combination of both. See how market oriented and sensible that might be as a solution? That they can't even muster that much of a response says a lot about their real game.

Posted by: Barbara on April 8, 2010 at 12:41 PM | PERMALINK


I think it's debatable that these guys understand the issues. I think the problem is that they're both cynical AND ignorant. It's in their interest to be both..and, as you point out, they're hardly going to tell the truth about anything at this point. Lying is all they have. so, they're going with lying. It's worked before, hell, it might work again.

they've been given a playbook by guys like Luntz and Norquest and Rove and Ailes and Atwater and they're sticking with that playbook.

I also think it's quite true that many GOP representatives in particular are egregiously stupid. This does not help matters.

Posted by: LL on April 8, 2010 at 12:44 PM | PERMALINK

This isn't ignorance - it's standard post-Reagan Republican political strategy: the ice cream without the spinach.

Posted by: Virginia on April 8, 2010 at 12:45 PM | PERMALINK

I think our mistake is in assuming that Republicans are even interested in a functional system, when all they really want is enough cover to shift blame to individuals (and Democrats!) for systemic failures. Banning denials for preexisting conditions is good PR, but its real value is in rhetorically nullifying a complaint about our system and eventually shifting the debate back to more comfortable GOP territory, which is to say demonizing victims.

Republicans know that they can't come right out and say that they like having losers and victims of a hierarchical, cruel system, but that's the societal model they always promote nonetheless.

Posted by: latts on April 8, 2010 at 12:45 PM | PERMALINK

Shorter McConnell:

"We're in the free ice cream business, but unfortunately we're fresh out."

Posted by: eightnine2718281828mu5 on April 8, 2010 at 12:47 PM | PERMALINK

As we all know, some of the best reporting comes from blogs.

Unfortunately, said reporting is all too often limited to being on blogs, exclusively. Certainly, some blog reporting makes it to the newspapers (print) and TV (e.g., TPM's Attorneys General scandal), but most of it does not.

Maybe one day it will. But something like Bookman's report would probably wake up quite a few people if it were put in the print newspaper and was part of a TV news segment. Of course this is true of most of the things that you and I read on this site and others on any given day. This is what makes most of us 'informed'.

Sometimes I think the good stuff that blogs do, including stuff like Bookman's piece, is deliberately 'shelved' to the blog iteration of a given media outlet so that it won't get the eyes that it otherwise would--and the embarrassing headaches and associated angry phone calls from spotlighted politicians. Decisions like this are made by the Broders of the world, who want to keep a lid on reality and to instead proffer their own, watered-down one.

Posted by: terraformer on April 8, 2010 at 12:50 PM | PERMALINK

Worth noting, one reason they've never stopped to think "but what happens without the mandate?" is they don't intend to ever actually repeal it. The opposition to the mandate is situational political posturing, not anything real.

Posted by: mcc on April 8, 2010 at 12:50 PM | PERMALINK

Come on, the answer is Option B, they don't want the 'pre-existing provision', but know it plays well with the public, so they go along with it knowing damn well it will be part of their repeal.

The reason they can not answer the question is because of their dishonesty. Chambliss is an idiot, but I know damn well McConnell understands the basics. He knows one can not survive w/o the other, and he knows the base will not accept a mandate, so he is left fluttering for an answer that doesn't exist.

Posted by: ScottW on April 8, 2010 at 12:50 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah, okay, so the wholly owned subsidiary of the insurance industry operating under the brand name "Republican Party" is going to keep the expensive pre-existing conditions clause and repeal the very profitable mandate clause of the health care bill....right.

I think the e-mail from Hartford must have gotten garbled in the series of tubes. I think it was supposed to say that they would repeal the pre-existing conditions bit while holding onto the mandate.

Posted by: Chesire11 on April 8, 2010 at 12:55 PM | PERMALINK

...doesn't mean they're dumb...

Well, of course they're not dumb. Dumb would denote a diminished level of intelligence, to which Republicans have voluntarily become absolute strangers to. They have traveled to a point in space that suggests the existence of an "uber-dumbness" not yet experienced by any sentient being on the planet, including sparrows, rabbits, earthworms, dung beetles, and various forms of crabgrass....

Posted by: S. Waybright on April 8, 2010 at 12:55 PM | PERMALINK

The problem with the quoted section is that when McConnell said "The premiums are going up either way," Bookman should have said "But with a mandate, the premiums go down because the size of the pool has gone up.

That's what they don't have an answer to.

Posted by: MichMan on April 8, 2010 at 12:57 PM | PERMALINK

I interpret this as the Republicans saying that no one with pre-existing conditions will be turned away for that reason, however
insurance companies will be free to charge those with pre-existing conditions an enormous amount - if those with the pre-existing conditions then decide not to take the insurance being offered - well that's not the insurance companies turning away those with pre-existing conidtions, right?

And besides "the premiums are going up either way" so it's not even that the insurance companies are targeting the pre-existing conditions crowd to begin with.

Posted by: sparky on April 8, 2010 at 12:57 PM | PERMALINK

If the GOP repeals the GOP but keeps the coverage of pre-existing conditions, then only employees of non-small companies will have medical insurance. If there is nothing to address the free rider issue, insurance companies will refuse to write policies to individuals and small companies.

Posted by: Dennis on April 8, 2010 at 12:57 PM | PERMALINK

Unfortunately, there isn't anything shocking about this. The Republican Party has absolutely no interest in meaningful health care reform. If the had any interest, they had 8 years in which to do something about it.

During the year plus of debate and discussion about the Democrats' push for health care reform, the Republicans were, time and again, invited to present an alternative plan and didn't do so.

In a sane world, one would expect the opposition party to understand the issues, explain why they oppose the proposed legislation and offer their own counter-proposal. Since the Congressional Republicans never offered rational criticism of the legislation or a counter-proposal, why are we surprised to learn that they never bothered to learn the issues?

Posted by: DRF on April 8, 2010 at 12:59 PM | PERMALINK

Bascially, I would agree that the Republicans don't know and/or don't care how to solve the pre-existing condition paradox, but they probably have a gut sense that "free-riders" would have the privilege to ultimately buy insurance at a "free-market" price of, say, $10K-$20K per month.

Posted by: qwerty on April 8, 2010 at 1:00 PM | PERMALINK

Today's Republican party is the end result of the political forces in play in our society. Their leadership is good at the things it needed to be good at in order to rise to their current position, and probably bad at anything that the political system does not reward.

Right wing politics today rewards ideology, consistent simplistic messaging around a few core ideas, and party discipline. It does not reward policy expertise, honesty or nuance, and it often actively selects against correct policy decisionmaking.

The end result is what you see - a party without even the beginnings of a clue as to how to solve real problems. Like the Communist party before it (another seemingly invincible authoritarian organization which rewarded ideology over practical expertise), the GOP will eventually die if it stays on the present course. The real question is whether it will take the rest of the country with it when it goes.

Posted by: jimBOB on April 8, 2010 at 1:00 PM | PERMALINK

Republicans simply have no interest in policy. None. Zero. Nada. Period.

You don't expect a bartender to know about Quantum Field Theory, you don't expect a Republican politician to know about policy. This doesn't mean that the bartender is stupid, just that he/she has other concerns.

Posted by: MattF on April 8, 2010 at 1:02 PM | PERMALINK

I am sure both McConnell and Chambliss understand the implications of their position, but as Republicans have been doing for a long time now, their position is based on pure political expediency and actual problem solving really isn't their goal.

Removing pre-existing conditions as a hurdle to coverage is probably the most popular and easiest to understand of the ACA's components.

Therefore, Republicans are not going to try and repeal it because that would be politically unpopular.

of course, if the Republicans had their way and removed the individual mandate but left the ban on pre-existing conditions intact, the young and healthy would not buy coverage until they need it and the whole purpose of insurance, to spread the risk of adverse events (sickness, cancer, emergency surgery, etc..) among the largest pool possible, would be gutted, and costs would skyrocket.

McConnell is technically correct when he says "premiums are going up either way" but to ignore that there is a HUGE difference between a 10% increase and a 100% increase is just so cynical and so deeply disrespectful of the voting public its jaw-dropping.

Republicans have so little respect for the intelligence of the American voting public that they believe we will be unable to connect the dots and see that the Repubs position is illogical and almost guarantees the virtual unaffordability of health insurance in the private market.

The real problem is is thay they might be right, the voting public won't connect the dots.

Posted by: Scott on April 8, 2010 at 1:02 PM | PERMALINK

The problem is that the real party leaders are gone and all they're left with is the Kool-Aid drinking sheep. They really watch Fox News. They really listen to Rush Limbaugh. They're not faking it. They really are this ignorant.

And the proof that they're not faking it is because they'd at least have better lies if they knew what they were talking about. But they don't.

In this particular instance, these two "leaders" are making the same error I've faced repeatedly from Republicans I've talked to: They understand that pre-existing conditions shouldn't prevent folks from having coverage, but fail to grasp why that makes the mandate necessary. And when I explain it to them, they have no response. Nothing. It's not just these two. This is a problem for ALL the Fox News watchers. They really don't know what they're talking about.

And of course, it should be remembered that back when Republicans DID know what they were talking about, they supported the individual mandate. Insurers wanted it, so it was part of the Republican solution. But because our modern Republicans are reflexively anti-Obama, they have to oppose a provision that insurers like.

The crazies really have taken over the Republican crazyhouse.

Posted by: Doctor Biobrain on April 8, 2010 at 1:03 PM | PERMALINK

Republicans are just eff-ed on this one. They have 14 or so State Attorney Generals filing suit on the single most important provision to their corporate paymasters, without the individual mandate private insurers will go out of business and we end up with the public option anyway. AHIP must be going crazy around now, they know the major insurance reforms are going to stick, they already had to back down on exploiting what their lawyers thought was a loophole for pre-existing conditions, and Republicans are bound to cave on that one in the end, all they got left is the individual mandate.

The irony is kind of delicious, without knowing it the R AG's are suing for socialized medicine. Somehow I don't think the recipe for electoral success runs through "take critical cancer care away from sick middle class kids", that genie is not going back in the bottle.

Hopefully Dem strategists won't get too crass about this and too exploitive, but the facts are that this fall we will have literally thousands of poster children for HCR. America has just grown numb to a system where cancer operations for babies are financed by donation jars on cashier's counters and community bake sales, we are just this close to a new day when if your little kid needs life saving medical intervention THEY GET IT. Nobody gives a shit that I am uninsured, who throws a quarter in a jar for a 53 year old guy? But jerking health care from some five-year old with a brain tumor is not going to cut it. As Obama said they can bring THAT little fight on.

Posted by: Bruce Webb on April 8, 2010 at 1:04 PM | PERMALINK

A general comment here. I am disappointed by the very negative bent of this blog has taken over the past year. As we are closing in on the midterm election, I recommend taking a cold hard look at what you are publishing and ask: Are we motivating the left and the center to get out and vote? When I read about the Tea Party or the RNC as a bunch of idiots, it doesn't surprise me or make me angry; it makes me feel smug and just a little too complacent. The left is only going to do well in the next election if we know what we are about and get mobilized. We'll be the idiots, not the tea party folks, if we are caught napping.

I left the Republican party in 1992 because of the scapegoating and name calling. Both are weak minded and counterproductive. Don't fall into the same trap. Thank you.

Posted by: clevergirl on April 8, 2010 at 1:06 PM | PERMALINK

Here is another story about how much the GOP doesn't understand. This is a criminal level of lack of interest in the whole legislative process - you know, having a remote clue about what you are creating laws around?? Anyone saying anything otherwise is either fooling themself or out-and-out lying.

GOP lack of understanding is stunning.

Sarah Palin perfectly represents the GOP. Dumb and highly opinionated without any understanding of what they are saying actually means.

They, collectively, are freaking frightening!

Posted by: MsJoanne on April 8, 2010 at 1:08 PM | PERMALINK

"McConnell is technically correct when he says "premiums are going up either way" but..."

In addition to your point-- what's fascinating to me about that little quote is that it seems like McConnell is basically admitting that once back in power he's not going to do anything about the escalating premiums problem.

Posted by: mcc on April 8, 2010 at 1:08 PM | PERMALINK

I should have given a direct link. Sorry.

Direct link to GOP cluelessness.

Posted by: MsJoanne on April 8, 2010 at 1:10 PM | PERMALINK

What you don't seem able to understand is that this isn't a debate between two parties which have different visions of how gov't should function.

That's simply untrue. Their problem is that they have a different set of facts than us. Ours are real, while theirs are fake. And if they used the real facts, they'd want the same things we want.

They don't want America to suck. They don't want the economy to fail. They don't want people to die. They simply live in an alternate reality in which Obama is a socialist who wants big government because it hurts America, and the free markets really DO make everything better.

And if they saw the truth, they'd want exactly what we want. That's why they believe lies, because it's the only way they can support the policies they support. And if they really DID want something different from us, they'd openly use the truth and still argue against our policies. But they never do.

And it should always be remembered: Conservatives LOVE big government; just as long as they're the ones controlling the government. Don't believe the "drown in a bathtub" lie. Bush drowned that one himself.

Posted by: Doctor Biobrain on April 8, 2010 at 1:10 PM | PERMALINK

We're back to the old stupid vs. evil argument, aren't we?

No reason the answer can't be "both", and it hardly matters; the proper response is the same either way.

Posted by: Joey Maloney on April 8, 2010 at 1:13 PM | PERMALINK

I'm not a movement conservative, I'll just play one here to show you how easy it is to refute anything, literally anything , using wingnut talking points.
Without further ado...
These allegations are untrue because:
1-The media is biased and hates conservatives.
2-How can you say this interview even took place? Were you there?
3-This is "Gotcha!" journalism at its worst.
4-In honor of the troops, quit makin' stuff up.
5-We have the best healthcare system in the world.
6-Somebody in Canada had to wait for a hip replacement surgery.
7-Socialism, communism, nazism.
8-Defensive medicine, tort reform, the magic of the free market...

Posted by: Robert Pierce on April 8, 2010 at 1:14 PM | PERMALINK

Let's be clear on the larger point of Republican intellectualism.

The GOP certainly understands the basics of health care reform, and that it necessarily consists of several interdependent parts. However, their expertise on the subject ends at that point. Their strategy to delay, obstruct, misinform, misdirect, and demagogue does not depend on, and has no room for, substantive knowledge of policy.

The Congressional GOP simply doesn't care, about anything, at all, with the singular exception of picking up seats in the next election.

It's why we see so few interviews like the Jay Bookman piece. An answer that is intellectually honest is also anathema to their predefined goals. The tea partiers are the logical extension of this behavior - anger and frustration driven by a mindset that is almost always in direct conflict with the reality.

It's why, for example, we see tea partiers rage against government spending who are entirely reliant on Medicare and Social Security.

It's precisely because McConnell and Chambliss are familiar with the HCR legislation that they choose to evade questions, regardless of how basic, on its substance.

Posted by: Dan on April 8, 2010 at 1:16 PM | PERMALINK

The GOP has largely decoupled any relationship between its rhetoric (which may change from moment to moment, as needed) and its actually policy goals (which are unpopular and cannot be fully revealed). While there are plenty of genuinely uninformed morons in the party who can't discuss policy, gussie is right. Many Republicans do understand the policy but feel no need to discuss it honestly or intelligently.

Sadly, the nonsense and intellectual bankruptcy are not limited to the GOP. The Blue Dog/Third Way wing of the Democratic Party -- and I unhesitatingly include the White House in that category -- are just as unable to articulate coherent explanations for the policies they seek.

Ask the Blue Dogs what bad things would have happened if we had a public option: Crickets. The public-option opposition was no more rooted in a genuine, if flawed, understanding of economics than Chambliss' and McConnell's calls for the repeal of the individual mandate.

Furthermore, the concept of an individual mandate only really works if the increased revenue generated by the individual mandate is efficiently allocated to the insurers who will now be paying for the increased costs of those with pre-existing conditions (e.g. in a single-payer system, the government covers all the costs, but takes in all the revenue).

Under the new legislation, there is no guarantee that the additional revenue from new enrollees will be fairly allocated. Indeed, it almost certainly won't be. Insurers will indirectly cherry-pick -- through marketing and other legal tactics -- the young and healthy pools of new enrollees while trying to dump the old and sick onto their competitors or, even better, the government.

Posted by: square1 on April 8, 2010 at 1:17 PM | PERMALINK

I am not convinced the individual mandate is needed for AHCRA. I think most people would have kept the insurance regardless. The real issue is treating expensive diseases (e.g., cancer), but individuals may still game the system since the penalty is $750 for what could be a $100,000 plus treatment. My approach would have allowed anyone to get insurance at any time but the health care company would give a mandatory loan to treat any preexisting care over $10,000. Of course, expanding MEDICARE to all would have avoided the whole circus.

Posted by: Raoul on April 8, 2010 at 1:18 PM | PERMALINK

For more of this consider the Bush Treasury Secretary's (Paulsen) comments about the difference between Barney Frank and Republicans. He could and did talk in detail with Frank about the problem and its solutions. Republicans either did not understand what the problem was or did not care. They were perfectly happy to have the economy go into a depression.

Posted by: John Tomas on April 8, 2010 at 1:21 PM | PERMALINK

While I continue to despair that self-proclaimed Christians continue to demonize any effort to provide any assistance to the less fortunate, even when they themselves are part of that group, the most shocking thing about this interview was the fact that the interviewer dared to actually ask a follow-up question instead of simply transcribing the response as a given truth.

That simple act is what makes the entire article worthwhile. More please.

Posted by: Kiweagle on April 8, 2010 at 1:23 PM | PERMALINK

If you live inside the right wing echo chamber long enough, your brain will atrophe from lack of use. If corse it's worse (and I'm talking about you, Saxby) if you weren't the sharpest stick in the woods to start with.

Posted by: J. Frank Parnell on April 8, 2010 at 1:34 PM | PERMALINK

We're confusing policy with politics.

Policy is seeing a problem/need, coming up with a solution, and implementing it.

Politics is an end game in itself, where winning isn't everything, it's the ONLY thing.

And once that game is won, it is time to move on to the next one- raising funds for re-election.

That's why an earlier post is so telling: "Cut Spending!" is a great campaign slogan, because it has universal appeal, and actually means whatever the voter wants it to mean. (cf. 'Foreign Aid'.)

Posted by: DAY on April 8, 2010 at 1:38 PM | PERMALINK

And how is the Democratic financial reform proposal rooted in a sound grasp of policy?

Everyone agrees that we need to reduce systemic risk. One can have honest debates about what the best mechanism is to achieve that. For example, to limit "too big to fail" banks. One could simply cap their total size and break them up, if too large. One could impose the Volker Rule and force large banks to divest themselves of their riskier banking departments. One could tax large banks and put the proceeds in a bailout fund (like FDIC). One could raise the taxes until being super-large is unprofitable. Or one could impose other regulations (such as restrictions on executive pay for banks that require a government backstop) that would be a disincentive to banks from becoming and remaining large).

But what one cannot do is what Dodd and the WH plan to do to stop "too big to fail" banks from existing -- that is, nothing -- and still claim to be addressing systemic risk.

Posted by: square1 on April 8, 2010 at 1:39 PM | PERMALINK

I would like to know what McConnell did for Blankenship,who busts unions, miners afraid to talk about their fears because of threats of losing jobs etc.
Greed, pure and simple is ruining the country.
The greedy health insurance companies who are paying themselves millions.
Greedy banks & Wall St paying themselves millions while they steal our retirement.
Greedy coal mining companies,in short - greedy corporations. If this is capitalism I would like to take socialism.

Posted by: Joan on April 8, 2010 at 1:39 PM | PERMALINK

The problem for the GOP is Reaganomics and Neoconservatism which were the planks of the modern day GOP economic and foreign policy have been completely discredited. If they actually specified their policy positions it would sound too much like supply-side and militarism which is very unpopular with the electorate.

This is especially damaging since Obama has co-opted the very few ideas they had that made any sense, (like an individual mandate).

Posted by: Archon on April 8, 2010 at 1:53 PM | PERMALINK

Please... as a GA resident, I'm begging you: never again refer to Goober Chambliss as a leading Senator. It's bad enough that he has to be my Senator, but the thought that he is leading others is too much to bear.

Posted by: TG on April 8, 2010 at 1:58 PM | PERMALINK

These clowns are lying about their intent to cover people with pre-existing conditions. Plain and simple. They are smart enough to know that the pre-existing condition exclusion is the least popular aspect of the current system and the hardest to defend (which is why the Democrats should have crafted their reform message around it from Day 1). In order to look as if they actually "care," GOP lawmakers always say they want to end the pre-existing condition exclusion. But if you look at any of the GOP's actual plans, including McCain's plan from the previous election, none of them allows people with pre-existing conditions to purchase insurance in the private market just like everyone else. The most recent GOP plan dumps those with pre-existing conditions into nearly bankrupt state-run high risk pools (some of which have been closed for years), which offer lousy coverage at exorbitant prices. The whole GOP "Yes, we care" schtick is a ruse. The modern GOP doesn't care if cancer survivors or people with MS can't get coverage. As far as the GOP is concerned, these people are on their own. It would be nice to see journalists actually push back on the GOP's false claims about covering those with pre-existing conditions, but I won't hold my breath.

Posted by: ameshall on April 8, 2010 at 2:05 PM | PERMALINK

They don't care because they don't believe public policy should be managed by the government, but rather by corporations.

Posted by: Monty on April 8, 2010 at 2:16 PM | PERMALINK

This has more to do with political positioning than whether Republicans understand the details of public policy. Maybe they don't want to answer the question because they don't want to go on record as favoring some type of tax increase to offset the premimums? Perhaps there's an understanding of the issue, but just an unwillingness to engage it for various (mostly political) reasons?

It's just politics...typical prevarication. It in no way proves the intelligence (or lack thereof) of McConnell or Chambliss. You haven't proven it's anything more than that. It's a pretty weak argument.

Posted by: m1 on April 8, 2010 at 2:19 PM | PERMALINK

Kudos to the AJC for digging below the surface. I haven't heard of any other publications or MSM that have done as much.

Posted by: CDW on April 8, 2010 at 2:48 PM | PERMALINK

Should have said traditional media above. Leftward bloggers dig deeply all the time.

Posted by: CDW on April 8, 2010 at 2:49 PM | PERMALINK

Republicans stand by their platform for Corporations.Ti the Republican the American taxpayer is only good for $$$$$ to waste and put in their individual pockets.To the Republicans The voters are only good for election day.

Posted by: mjohnston on April 8, 2010 at 3:21 PM | PERMALINK

Come on, Republicans. There isn't one of you who wants to take a swing at this? Everything you are is being demeaned here, from your intelligence to your integrity. Since under your plan, more unfortunate people will die, there should be some kind of philosophical, economic or moral principle that justifies your position that we're just not smart enough to understand. You're anonymous; you can link to somebody who has explained it to your satisfaction. We'll all go check it out. This is a big f---in' deal, you might say. Enlighten us.

Posted by: beejeez on April 8, 2010 at 3:38 PM | PERMALINK

Why should they concern themselves with policy details? When they’re in power, lobbyists write the legislation for them. Whether they’re out or in, Frank Luntz writes their talking points. All they have to do is read the latest fax and watch Fox so they know what to do and what to say.
The agenda in a nutshell: Protect corporate interests, protect the wealthy, pander to the fundies.

Posted by: Paul Madrigal on April 8, 2010 at 4:30 PM | PERMALINK

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Do McConnell and Chambliss understand that undermining the mandate will bring them into collision with the insurers, who are probably in a pretty sour mood right now?

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