A Republican Waterloo – Losing The Health Care Reform Vote May Hurt Republicans More Than Democrats


by Dennis Sanders, RepublicansUnited.us
Commentary by Bill Golden, Bill4DogCatcher.com


David J. Frum is a Canadian American conservative journalist active in both USA and Canadian politics, a former economics speechwriter for President George W. Bush, and founder of FrumForum.com (formerly NewMajority.com), a political group blog.


David Frum lets conservatives and Republicans have it for their intransigence during the health care debate:

At the beginning of this process we made a strategic decision: unlike, say, Democrats in 2001 when President Bush proposed his first tax cut, we would make no deal with the administration. No negotiations, no compromise, nothing. We were going for all the marbles. This would be Obama’s Waterloo – just as healthcare was Clinton’s in 1994.

Only, the hardliners overlooked a few key facts: Obama was elected with 53% of the vote, not Clinton’s 42%. The liberal block within the Democratic congressional caucus is bigger and stronger than it was in 1993-94. And of course the Democrats also remember their history, and also remember the consequences of their 1994 failure.

This time, when we went for all the marbles, we ended with none.

Could a deal have been reached? Who knows? But we do know that the gap between this plan and traditional Republican ideas is not very big. The Obama plan has a broad family resemblance to Mitt Romney’s Massachusetts plan. It builds on ideas developed at the Heritage Foundation in the early 1990s that formed the basis for Republican counter-proposals to Clintoncare in 1993-1994.

Barack Obama badly wanted Republican votes for his plan. Could we have leveraged his desire to align the plan more closely with conservative views? To finance it without redistributive taxes on productive enterprise – without weighing so heavily on small business – without expanding Medicaid? Too late now. They are all the law.

No illusions please: This bill will not be repealed. Even if Republicans scored a 1994 style landslide in November, how many votes could we muster to re-open the “doughnut hole” and charge seniors more for prescription drugs? How many votes to re-allow insurers to rescind policies when they discover a pre-existing condition? How many votes to banish 25 year olds from their parents’ insurance coverage? And even if the votes were there – would President Obama sign such a repeal?

by Dennis Sanders, RepublicansUnited.us

I totally agree. GOP leadership can huff and puff all they like, but they aren’t going muster any votes to take away something that has been given to them. It’s a nice issue to stir up the passions of the base for the next few years, but let’s face it: this legislation is here to stay.

Sure, conservatives and Republicans might have their revenge in November and pick up a few seats-something that will make the hardliners feel good- but in the end, this is victory for the Democrats. We will end up with a bill that will be in effect long after the leading GOP leaders have left Washington.

Ross Douthat has made fun of moderate Republicans in the past for basically becoming the accountants of the welfare state- allowing Democrats to have their big government programs, but making sure these plans were fiscally sound. What would have happened had the party allowed Olympia Snowe to help work out a deal that would have made health care reform more fiscally sustainable? What if an Orrin Hatch (who is not a moderate) or Bob Bennett had been able to force a tax on so-called “Cadillac Plans” that would help fund the deal and also lead to some meaningful reform on costs?

We will never know because the leadership made damn sure no Republican cooperated. I think in the long run, this will be the GOP’s Waterloo, a big spectacular loss. We can’t see it now, but give it five or ten years.

We lost this one, big time.

Bill4DogCatcher.com sez: Tactics may win battles but poor strategy loses or wins wars. The Republican strategy had no tactics except delay and obstruction, and their strategy was to hope that the TEA Party rallied enough support to scare the bejesus out of lawmakers. A war lost due to squandered opportunities to capture the conversation and to work for the American people.

Here is the Election 2010 scenario as I see it: there will be a constitutional challenge to the passage of the Health Care Reform. However, there is a degree to which that really doesn’t matter. Timing will reward the Democrats.

The Supreme Court will not hurriedly accept appeals to overturn the new Health Care Reform Act. Sometime in 2011 may be the earliest that they accept a challenge, late 2010 at the earliest. This is bad news for Republicans.

Between now and late spring 2010 there are no major political issues for Republicans to champion. They have put all of their hopes into a single issue and failed miserably. Their closest allies, the TEA Party in particular, already consider the GOP largely impotent and this just proves it. Republicans can expect to face challenges across the nation in their primaries and in the general election from third party and independent conservatives.

Between now and late summer 2010 the economy will make improvements. These improvements will be sufficient enough to make President Obama and the Democrats look like they are doing good things — although I do predict an economic downturn in late 2010: see 2010 Dog Catcher Predictions – Economics, from January 3, 2010.

The Democrats, despite their historic ability to grab defeat from the jaws of victory, will do well enough in November 2010 to maintain control of one or both houses of Congress. The Republicans — between now and November 2010 — will descend into self-pity, playing pin the tail on the donkey, anger and will remain without a strategy.

There are issues that Republicans can win on in November but they will need to listen to cooler heads — and I think that there are some smart folks in the TEA party that actually have the basis for a winning plan, although TEA must work to overcome their negative imagery: one part deserved and one part the natural way politics works when there is strong disagreement and your opponent wants to paint you as being on the edge … about to fall off.

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