A good morning, a good week, and a good spring to all.
Today is the first day after the Congress passed the health care bill – which I hope gets named the Ted Kennedy Health Care System. Obama is scheduled to sign it into law tomorrow, with an amendments bill to be tackled shortly.
It may not be great. We may not love it. It may not be perfect. But it actually brings us somewhat up to par with the rest of the civilized world.
I went out looking for world reaction, and I didn’t get very far before I found an Op-Ed piece that declared/spun this as a pretty terrible thing for Obama and the Democrats. Well, I couldn’t exactly let that go without a comment, now, could I?
I wrote the following in response to the Op-Ed online article. It was in the German newspaper der Spiegel, US Health Care — Good for America, Bad for the World? by Gregor Peter Schmitz:
Two good points, several wrongheaded ones. It appears this article was written by a conservative, writing his hopes, rather than about reality.
Good one: Obama hasn’t considered it important to visit Europe. He must correct this, and soon.
Good one – with caveats: The insurance companies are the big winners. Certainly for the moment that is true. But when they begin paying out for health care to the people they have been defrauding – by taking payments while intending to not provide promised services – what will be the score then?
Wrongheaded: That the Democrat in Congress are more at risk for passing this. Failing to pass it would have been a disaster, come November. As you note, 10 years from now, we in the US will wonder why we didn’t always have an NHS. That positiveness begins now and will be more positive by November.
Wrongheaded: That this victory is more like Civil Rights in the 1960s than like passing Medicare in those same 1960s. Civil Rights was seized on by Nixon in his “Southern Strategy” to appeal to racists (and Lyndon Johnson knew it would be). There is no such 200-year-old American institution now that pits one class against another; the health care insults no one’s inbred hatreds – not any more than Medicare did, and one can argue it is much less, since it does not target help to any hated underclass, but offers help to everybody.
Wrongheaded: Blaming Obama for getting no Republican bipartisan votes. That was a strategy decision by the Republicans. Republican pundit David Frum called it the GOP “Waterloo” in an article of that name:
“Conservatives and Republicans today suffered their most crushing legislative defeat since the 1960s.
It’s hard to exaggerate the magnitude of the disaster. Conservatives may cheer themselves that they’ll compensate for today’s expected vote with a big win in the November 2010 elections. But:
(1) It’s a good bet that conservatives are over-optimistic about November – by then the economy will have improved and the immediate goodies in the healthcare bill will be reaching key voting blocs.
(2) So what? Legislative majorities come and go. This healthcare bill is forever. A win in November is very poor compensation for this debacle now.
So far, I think a lot of conservatives will agree with me. Now comes the hard lesson:
A huge part of the blame for today’s disaster attaches to conservatives and Republicans ourselves.
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.”
The lack of cross-aisle support was a Republican strategy to stonewall and to obstruct – on an issue of vast importance – and it failed. It was very close to their OWN think-tank ideas, yet they fought it – not because it was a bad plan, but because it was from the Democrats and for no other reason. Obama could have offered them the moon, and they were intent on non-cooperation at all costs. The costs are NOW, and the costs will be in November, too. The failure to defeat healthcare weakens the Republicans in November. Its passage at worst leaves the Democrats no worse off, whereas failing to pass it would have been an utter disaster in November.
When a leading GOP pundit calls it the GOP’s most crushing defeat in 45 years, it is beyond belief that an Op-Ed piece in der Spiegel can declare that the victors are actually the losers.
It would seem that Gregor Schmitz doesn’t know what he is talking about. Would he also declare Hitler the victor in World War II? Bonaparte at Waterloo? Or do Adolf and Napoleon have to wait until November’s elections to know for sure?
If it was the most crushing defeat for the Republicans since 1965, surely it is the biggest Democratic victory, too.
. . . . Steve