Posting in Finance
The result is that Republicans on Senate Finance now face the choice between a Baucus bill lacking all the elements of reform the President previously laid out -- a public option, employer mandates, no tax on benefits -- or walking away. Either way, they win.
These two forces appear, for the moment, to have checkmated President Obama on health reform.
is what Republicans brought to the table. While they are a minority in
both Houses of Congress, unity always lets a minority wield power out
of proportion to its numbers.
Money, from both the buy side (insurers) and the sell side (doctors and drug companies) is providing the margin among Democrats that Republicans need to prevail.
Republicans are united in
opposing reform. They proved this unity during the stimulus debate,
keeping their caucus together. And in this battle that unity extends to
the grassroots, from the bottom of the party to the boardroom.
Take Michael Hennessy (left, and that's his signature above, from Pharmacy Times.)
The chairman of Intellisphere,
which started 10 years ago offering online medical sites and now owns both magazines and
the political publication Campaigns & Elections, he's a regular Republican contributor who seldom wears his political heart on his sleeve.
Yesterday he blasted an e-mail, at risk of spam charges, attacking the Obama
plan as dangerous, and attacking any form of universal health care --
whether single-payer systems like England, the Massachusetts plan, or
the hybrid Democrats want. Let's Hope History Repeats Itself, was his headline.
Republican opposition to universal care under any scheme, we have
industry fears that the gravy train may halt. United Healthcare has
been especially clever in this regard, handing Republicans their
talking points through its Lewin Group subsidiary.
But alongside opposition to being cut-out on the buyer's side,
there is also unease about reform on the selling side, as at a recent
town hall meeting held by Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison at the Texas Medical Center.
The spin was stall, but even though most of the industry leaders "were united that reform is necessary," wrote the Houston Chronicle, Hutchison was happy to take their cries of "careful" as a reason to support her party's line.
What has split the Democrats and made reform nearly impossible is money. Specifically it's campaign contributions to top Democrats like Finance Committee chair Max Baucus, whose committee must report a bill before anything will move.
This program of big money to conservative Democrats is also working in the House, which has now stalled floor consideration of its bill.
result is that Republicans on Senate Finance now face the choice
between a Baucus bill lacking all the elements of reform the President
previously laid out -- a public option, employer mandates, no tax on benefits -- or walking away.
Either way, they win.
coming August recess will also be filled with a barrage of TV ads
opposing either the idea of reform or major elements of reform, both
from industry and the Republican Party.
Thus the President has a
choice. He can try to force his caucus into line with his goals, which
he may be unable to do, or he can take what he's being offered, which
may be worse than no reform at all.
Heads the Republicans win, tails the Democrats lose.
Whatever your views on the issue, you have to admire the tactics. Almost everyone agreed in January action was necessary, yet we will see no action thanks to unity and money.
This failure by the Democrats leaves the Republican Party in great shape to win back the Congress next year and take the White House in 2012.
Disappointed liberals are bound to stay away from the polls in droves, preferring to take their despotism pure, not laden with the base alloy of hypocrisy. By failing to hang together they will, in a political sense, all hang separately.
Jul 28, 2009
I thought this website was about innovation and cutting edge thinking. How is highlighting obstructionists innovative. Hennessey's thinking is the same do-nothing, "problem, what problem?" strategy that lost the GOP the White House and Congress last year. Despite their attempts to derail the debate and timetable for reform, this will go badly for the Republicans. Policymakers and the public will seize the time to debate the merits and think creatively about solutions. The Democrats are just as committed to reform as the GOP is to stopping it. The Dems also have greater support for reform by the public. The GOP will be in worse shape and will have only themselves to blame.
Excuse me, but I thought the Dems had the majority in both houses. The President wants to ram this down people throats and even moderate Dems are very concerned. What is the big hurry to rush something through that may bankrupt America?
This is both a far-fetched analysis and also tragically premature. The gravest mistake Republicans can make is choosing to make Health Care Reform about "defeating Obama." Defeating Health Care reform is like defeating America to win a political victory. The American people may be a few cards short of a Royal Flush, but they are not that mentally disconnected. It is their pocket books and loved ones who suffer, and Corporate America that grins to the bank. This is not a political issue -- it is a moral and economic imperative, just as alternative fuels and energy are also instruments of future economic prosperity. I have had superb health insurance in my past and have been totally devastated by absurd and impossible health care in recent years. I am far from the only one. The billions of dollars lost in family suffering and tragedy are never the issue to Republicans, only the dollars to be made by Doctors, Insurance Companies and related health delivery systems. They forget that all those Billions are drained like blood from the pockets of what were once independent and well off Americans -- drained dry and likely unable to work full time, reduced to desperation and poverty by accident, twist of fate, or genetic dice roll. Before any Conservative Loyalists get too smug, they should be mindful that the same twists of fate may visit them, and mere political loyalty will not pay the medical bills or salvage a mortgage when hundreds of thousands of dollars must pay those medical costs. Clearly, a lot of Republicans need medical care and surgery -- heart transplants to be exact...to replace that cold black thing with something that is a living, caring and functioning heart. Zenbob
Republicans have been able to turn the issue into one of who pays. It's not who pays. It's how do we control costs. If we can focus on that, there's hope for real reform, no matter whether it's government or private insurance doing the paying. What I resent is how private insurers made the "who pays" argument when they're the ones who have done the research on cost control, and could control costs if government simply gave them carte blanche to do it. Start with expanding the pool of differential payments. We already require smokers to pay more. How about fat people? Anyone who ignores doctors' orders puts themselves at greater risk and should pay an actuarially-determined premium based on that risk. Or be denied coverage.
The analysis is too simplistic by playing the typical tactic of "divide and conquer" by separating the parties or painting the Republics as the villains. The President's proposed "plan", if you can call it that, is a steaming pile of dung -- and reasonable people smell it and see it as such. I don't care which side comes up with it, but we need a better choice than the one put forth by the President. And no one better try to ram such an important decision down our throats for the sake of political expediency!
Dana, another interesting angle on the issue. While, as a conservative, I'd like to believe this to be the reason why the healthcare agenda is stalling, I'm more inclined to see that it is dissension within the Democrat ranks. How else explain the hang-up with a 59% majority in the House and a 60 vote filibuster-proof super-majority in the Senate? I do like the approach you've taken with the issues Baucus faces, but there still seems to be something more.
Republicans and Independents are supporting healthcare reform just not OVERHAULING with a government plan.