Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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March 1, 2011

GOP BALKS AT STATE FLEXIBILITY ON HEALTH CARE.... President Obama made an unexpected move yesterday, announcing his support for a shift in health care policy -- if, by the time the Affordable Care Act takes effect in 2014, states want to reach the same goals through other means, they're welcome to do so.

Specifically, the president told the nation's governors, "[I]f you can come up with a better system for your state to provide coverage of the same quality and affordability as the Affordable Care Act, you can take that route instead."

Republicans should be thrilled, right? State-based flexibility, a departure from a one-size-fits-all policy, a chance for states to walk away from the confines of the Affordable Care Act and the individual mandate ... the White House was handing the GOP a gift.

I hope he kept the receipt.

Mr. Obama's announcement did not appear to appease his Republican critics. The House majority leader, Representative Eric Cantor of Virginia, told reporters that the health law was "an impediment to job growth" and that Republicans remained committed to its repeal.

Right. Republicans don't want to improve the law or shape it more to their liking; they want to kill it. The White House would gladly work with the GOP on changes, but Republicans prefer to wage a partisan war they know they can't win.

Ben Smith noted another potential problem for the right.

Much of the debate now focuses on the federal government's power, and perhaps health care legislation's critics wouldn't object to single payer -- in Vermont. But the prospect of a backdoor to a single-payer plan anywhere may also sharpen opposition.

In other words, Republicans might want flexibility for state-based experimentation, but may end up rejecting the plan because some states prefer experiments the GOP doesn't like.

Steve Benen 9:30 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (18)

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Sooner or later it is going to sink in that you really can't negotiate with these people.

Posted by: martin on March 1, 2011 at 9:32 AM | PERMALINK


I think Obama is blocking the exit ramps for the Republicans, one by one. You want cost savings, we got cost savings, you want local experimentation, we got local experimentation... you want to cripple Medicare, um, oopsie, and no place to back out to.

Posted by: MattF on March 1, 2011 at 9:38 AM | PERMALINK


Makes sense in a world of rational discourse. But what about the real world;>

Posted by: martin on March 1, 2011 at 9:49 AM | PERMALINK

Pres. Obama is not negotiating with the Rethugs in Congress. He is bypassing them and negotiating with the governors and with the moderate voters.

This would be negotiation with rational, patriotic public servants. However there are none of those left in the Rethugican caucus. Offering a rational proposal is provoking the voices in Congressional Rethugnicans heads to louder howls of madness.

And that provocation is the point.

Posted by: OKDem on March 1, 2011 at 9:55 AM | PERMALINK

Republicans theory of negotiation:
Where 99% isn't enough!

I hope this is Obama playing 11th dimensional political chess. But since he never seemed to master even 2nd dimensional political chess since he became President, I kind of doubt it.

The take-away message, as "martin" said above - you can't negotiate with them. It's 100% or nothing.

Posted by: c u n d gulag on March 1, 2011 at 9:58 AM | PERMALINK

Obama did nothing more than change the date of something that was already in the ACA legislation. Instead of the original date of 2017, he supports moving it up to 2014. It is a good idea, irrespective of the republicans' support or lack thereof.

That said, this change was originally proposed by a Republican and Democrat, which I'm sure Obama will repeatedly hammer home in the press.

Posted by: Holmes on March 1, 2011 at 10:12 AM | PERMALINK

If it is a given that the voting public reacts according to a Manichean formula , 100% or nothing , the consequent governments between opposing forces should be equal .
Uh Oh somethings got its thumby thingy on the scale .
The ability for political projection projects and the failure and irresponsibility to hold any manner of liability to one , opposed to a up close airtight inventory for its counterpart is the weapon of choice . Weapons of choice are used until they are defeated on the battlefield .
When it is finally understood that the enemy is us , it won't change the trend until it meets head on , loudly and clearly , and defeats the weapon of choice on the battlefield .
A rather difficult assessment if you are uncomfortable with the reduction of a civil society conducting its policy debate as a war .

Posted by: FRP on March 1, 2011 at 10:27 AM | PERMALINK

Many times, in interviews and in speeches, President Obama has indicated that one of his stronger traits is persistence. Coupled with smarts, he may yet out manouver the idiot Republicans whose depth of reasoning resembles a pool of puppy pee.

Go Vermont! Get single payer online.

Posted by: Diane Rodriguez on March 1, 2011 at 10:32 AM | PERMALINK

Since the states have an opt out provision, why are they filing lawsuits because of the individual mandate when they have the chance to create their own system without the mandate..............what is their complaint?

Posted by: LRM on March 1, 2011 at 10:44 AM | PERMALINK

LRM, it is purely partisan politics(and a chance to rake in money from the insurance companies). As evidenced by their lack of alternative proposals, the republicans just want to rob Obama of any accomplishments.

Posted by: Holmes on March 1, 2011 at 10:53 AM | PERMALINK

On Feb. 28 Senator Hatch (on the News Hour with Jim Lehrer) vented loudly about Utah and the health care.

Posted by: Jim Sawyer on March 1, 2011 at 11:11 AM | PERMALINK

But this flexibility for state programs has BEEN IN THE BILL ALL ALONG!!! Why is it being framed that Obama is changing anything other than the date for compliance??

Posted by: k l m on March 1, 2011 at 11:15 AM | PERMALINK

"In other words, Republicans might want flexibility for state-based experimentation, but may end up rejecting the plan because some states prefer experiments the GOP doesn't like.

The right would have rejected it no matter what the offer was simply because it's Obama's idea. The question in my mind is whether Obama knows yet that that's how it's going to be during his entire presidency. Is he playing "chess", or is he as obtuse as he sometimes seems to be when it comes to "bipartisanship"

Posted by: CDW on March 1, 2011 at 11:39 AM | PERMALINK

I would move to any state that would offer single payer. Think Obama is brilliant to do this early. Crowdsource healthcare. Brilliant!

Posted by: Jack on March 1, 2011 at 11:53 AM | PERMALINK

Maybe this is a given, but no one has mentioned it so here goes: Yes, the Repubs are objecting to the 2014 state flexibility deadline because they object to anything Obama ever says or does, but primarily because they don't like the basic idea of health care reform, particularly the part about (through a complex and awkward mandate/subsidy system) getting everyone into the health care system. They kept saying they had a better way, but never came up with it because they object to the basic concept. That's why Obama said other ways to cover as many people as the original law and at the same cost would be OK - because Repubs don't want to exactly say it, but they have no interest in any such program. Oh, and of course all these individual state programs will have to cover you somehow when you are outside that state.

Health care for R's is something you get if you can afford it. If you can't, it's because you are a lazy layabout and probably not white besides, and you don't deserve anything except maybe a visit to the emergency room if you're about to die. Which you will be charged several thousand dollars for, which you oughta get off your ass and come up with.

I'm thinking that if some states start to come up with a single payer or other sort of system (ACA but simply forbid for-profit insurance?) that turns out to work better and cheaper than ACA, it will eventually be taken up nationally. And after a few decades of screwing around we will get to some version of where everyone else already is.

Oh, and would every teevee interviewer who hears some Repub talking about "Obamacare" please ask if they are talking about ACA or what? (Fat chance. that would be actual journalism or something.)

Posted by: emjayay on March 1, 2011 at 12:26 PM | PERMALINK

Ya know, sitting here in Arizona I worry a lot more about Obama's proven capacity to make concession after concession after concession, leaving me helplessly stuck under the thumb of the Australopithecines in the state legislature. Single Payer is NOT exactly the way they're gonna go. And I'll bet a lot of progressives in other red states feel the same way, that we're about to get sold down the river so O can show how bipartisan he is.

Posted by: jhill on March 1, 2011 at 12:33 PM | PERMALINK

Representative Eric Cantor of Virginia, told reporters that the health law was "an impediment to job growth"

New Rule: Whenever a member of the Republican "Leadership" utters words to the effect that a Democratic policy will harm job growth, they will be strapped to a chair and have their eyes pinned open and be forced to watch a tape loop of Boehner's "so be it" moment for 48 hours straight.

Posted by: majun on March 1, 2011 at 12:59 PM | PERMALINK

re jhill @ 12:33 PM:
I fail to see how anyone is going to be sold down the river - other than Republican pollsters.
If Arizona "opts out" of the ACA, it STILL has to meet the standards in the ACA as set by the Federal government; especially affordability and 100% coverage. Most likely you WON'T be offered single payer as a resident of Arizona, but you won't be offered anything less than what's in the ACA.
That's why the Republican/Teabaggers are b*tching about it. Any program that Republican/Teabaggers would approve, wouldn't meet the Federal standards and they know it. These cretins don't support the 10th Amendment in order to provide better services for the citizens of their respective states - they support it in order to DENY services to their fellow citizens.
Talk about marching to a different drummer...

Posted by: Doug on March 1, 2011 at 10:39 PM | PERMALINK



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