Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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January 24, 2011

REMEMBER THE ALTERNATIVE HEALTH CARE REFORM PLAN?.... The day after the House GOP voted to repeal the entirety of the Affordable Care Act, I noted that Republicans can't be bothered to do the hard work of legislating, policymaking, and problem-solving. For all the "repeal and replace" rhetoric, the GOP can't even begin to explain the "replace" part of their agenda, and haven't come up with an actual health care reform plan of their own.

Some of my friends on the right suggested this wasn't fair -- there is a Republican reform plan, and it exists, whether I consider it a sound plan or not.

Is there something to this? Not really.

On "Meet the Press" yesterday, host David Gregory noted the Congressional Budget Office's analysis of the plan presented by now-Speaker John Boehner -- barely denting the ranks of the uninsured, doing very little about costs -- and asked House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, "The truth is, Republicans do not have a serious alternative to covering more Americans, do they?" Cantor responded:

"Well, the -- if you recall last session, we Republicans were given one shot; we didn't have any open debate for both sides at all on the healthcare bill the way it was jammed through. The Boehner plan is just a starting point."

Cantor went on to repeat vague and shallow talking points, but this was the crux of his pitch.

He seems to have forgotten some of the relevant details, so let's quickly review. The House Republican caucus worked behind closed doors for five months on a health care plan in 2009. As a substantive matter, the GOP plan was nothing short of laughable -- it largely ignored the uninsured, did nothing for those with pre-existing conditions, and offered nothing for those worried about losing coverage when it's needed most. It didn't even focus on fiscal issues, reducing the deficit far less than the Democratic plan.

The Republican approach to reform sought to create a system that "works better for people who don't need health care services, and much worse for people who actually are sick or who become sick in the future. It's basically a health un-insurance policy."

Yesterday, Cantor suggested his own party's plan, which he voted for, was a joke because of the process. But that's silly -- House Republicans took five months to shape their own policy precisely how they wanted, and they came up with a ridiculous proposal that no one could take seriously. It wasn't billed as "a starting point"; it was presented as a credible plan to improve the nation's health care system. It wasn't.

Other Republicans, meanwhile, are suggesting the party could go back to the McCain/Palin reform plan from 2008 -- which happens to cost far more than the Affordable Care Act, and cover fewer people.

Those who think Republicans have credibility on health care policy clearly aren't paying attention.

Steve Benen 11:15 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (14)

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And let's not forget, the Republicans could have initiated some kind of health care reform between 2001 and 2007, when they lost control of both houses of Congress. Not only did they not bring forth any serious reform in that time, as soon as they lost the majority of seats in both houses on Congress, they immediately went into "block everything" mode. They had lots of opportunities to do some good. The fact that they chose to do nothing should tell you everything about where their priorities were then, and now.
Block progress.
Repeal any progress that is made.
Demonize any progress so everyone thinks it's not progress at all.
Lie if you have to.
Lie because you have to.

Posted by: slappy magoo on January 24, 2011 at 11:25 AM | PERMALINK

If only we cared as much about people as we did about killing other people. Disband most of the military and give Medicare to everybody. I'd pay for that!

Posted by: Trollop on January 24, 2011 at 11:29 AM | PERMALINK

Why would anyone think Congressional Republicans have a credible health care policy history? They didn't even have the most remote interest in health care reform until the Democrats started drawing up the Affordable Care Act.

Posted by: Jam on January 24, 2011 at 11:32 AM | PERMALINK

Obama could put a bit of pressure on Republicans by saying something like "Now that House Republicans have repealed Obamacare, I eagerly await the details and the CBO score of the Health Care Reform plan they hope to replace it with" in the SOTU address.

Posted by: delNorte on January 24, 2011 at 11:38 AM | PERMALINK

Maybe we should just attack another country that poses zero threat to america so we can steal their oil and make billionairs richer? My knuckles drag on the ground when I walk, I always breath out of my mouth, and only get my fake TV news from a well paid right wing whore, so that's all I really care about anyway. My family can all die on the streets for all I care. They actually went to school and think they're smarter than I am!

Posted by: American Idiot on January 24, 2011 at 11:44 AM | PERMALINK

Never forget that there is a serious Republican healthcare plan already in place. It is called the ACA or Obamacare.

The problem Republicans face is the plan the Democrats adopted is the most conservative workable plan the Heritage Foundation could come up with. Anything more conservative isn't a workable plan.

I think Democrats can grab control of the debate if we start offering more progressive changes to the ACA. Force the Republicans to defend their own damn plan.

Posted by: Ron Byers on January 24, 2011 at 11:48 AM | PERMALINK

Slappy magoo is exactly right--the Republicans had 8 years of the Bush administration, and the last 2 years, to come up with a reform plan, and they still don't have anything more than a "starting point"? That's absurd.

The truth is that universal health care is certainly not a goal of the Republican Party and, while they recognize that reform of the health care system is a hugely popular goal and, therefore, they have to be for it, this is not a priority issue for them. So long as they can pay lip service to the concept of reform, they're fine.

The problem for Republicans, and the reason I think they shy away from affirmatively pushing their own plan, is that this is one area of the economy where the government provided services (Medicare, Medicaid, Veterans health benefits) works as well as, if not better, than the private market economy, and any meaningful solutions to the existing problems will require movement towards greater governmental involvement. Since that's anathema to the Republican Party, they don't want to touch this issue.

Posted by: DRF on January 24, 2011 at 11:49 AM | PERMALINK

"We do so too HAVE a plan!"
"OK, where is it?"
"A dog ate it."
"A dog at it?"
"Yes, uhm, uh - a Democrat dog!"
"So, a Democratic dog ate your plan?"
"Yes, a BIG Democrat dog. Bigger than that late fat Libtard Ted Kennedy!"

Posted by: c u n d gulag on January 24, 2011 at 11:52 AM | PERMALINK

All this GOP chatter is so transparently political, although the elections just ended 3 months ago and nobody has a clear mandate to do anything except improve the economy and work together. How can these fools claim they "speak for the American people" and have a clear mandate to repeal healthcare?

What I see is a divided government that one party has declared it cares not a whit about other than preventing Obama getting reelected. Governing is the last thing in the Teapublican's priorities. They behave like Bolsheviks, justifying any vile tactic with their end justifying their means.

When retiring Sen. Conrad asked retiring Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson to sit together at the State of the Union speech on ABC's This Week yesterday, she wouldn't say yes, or say no. The friendly gesture was made in good faith on national TV and she just blew it off. For me that was a symbol of where the bad faith and problem is in our government, and Sen Hutchnson isn't even a hater or extremist.

As for all the promises from the Teapublicans to cut $100 billion and vote on health care repeal in the Senate, that is just more grandstanding. The only real way to drastically cut the deficit and balance the budget is to cut bigtime into the wasteful, bloated and unnecessary Defense and intel budgets - cuz that's where the money is. And pass single payor national healthcare, and drop the waste and bloat in Medicare and Medicaid. The VA system is the model, spending about 3% on administration, whereas healthcare currently spends 28% under the private insurers who rip off our national taxpayers.

And these comments are from a independent voter and businessman who looks at the numbers, not the politics. I want my country back from the jug head politicians, most of whom are on the right with a few on the left. Teapublicans don't even have any plans other than atttack, attack, lie, distort, create obstacles, create incivility.

The pendulum is swinging back against the Teapublicans, and hopefully will stop in the moderate and sensible center where the country comes first.

Posted by: oscar3indy on January 24, 2011 at 12:31 PM | PERMALINK

Wow, a hard-hitting question by Gregory for a Republican. Next thing you know pigs will be flying.

Posted by: JD on January 24, 2011 at 12:40 PM | PERMALINK

Let's make it real simple for voters: Republicans are liars. They have no real plan for health care reform. NONE. They only want to anally rape you on behalf of large insurance companies. There. The truth is usually very simple.

Posted by: Sam Simple on January 24, 2011 at 1:58 PM | PERMALINK

I was highly amused when after the House vote on the GOP "repeal" bill, Cantor was demanding that the Senate take it up because "the American people want a real debate" on this. And the House had, what, five hours of debate on their bill, complete with "closed rules" preventing any amendments that they whined so much about when Democrats did it?

Posted by: Redshift on January 24, 2011 at 2:45 PM | PERMALINK

This is so stupid. The GOP doesn't have a health care plan because they don't WANT a health care plan. These mealy mouthed bastards play the game with seniors but C'MON...they've been fighting privatized health care since Medicare. THEY DON'T WANT IT, they don't work on it and every single thing they say on health care is lip service.

Posted by: SYSPROG on January 24, 2011 at 2:49 PM | PERMALINK

As i recall, the republican plan is as follows:

1) Don't get sick.

2) If you do get sick, die quickly.

Posted by: rhino on January 24, 2011 at 7:21 PM | PERMALINK



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