What If Republicans Win The Healthcare Fight?

David Frum has done something which few other conservatives have–question what it would mean if they actually won on healthcare:

What would it mean to “win” the healthcare fight?

For some, the answer is obvious: beat back the president’s proposals, defeat the House bill, stand back and wait for 1994 to repeat itself.

The problem is that if we do that… we’ll still have the present healthcare system. Meaning that we’ll have (1) flat-lining wages, (2) exploding Medicaid and Medicare costs and thus immense pressure for future tax increases, (3) small businesses and self-employed individuals priced out of the insurance market, and (4) a lot of uninsured or underinsured people imposing costs on hospitals and local governments.

We’ll have entrenched and perpetuated some of the most irrational features of a hugely costly and under-performing system, at the expense of entrepreneurs and risk-takers, exactly the people the Republican party exists to champion.

Not a good outcome.

Even worse will be the way this fight is won: basically by convincing older Americans already covered by a government health program, Medicare, that Obama’s reform plans will reduce their coverage. In other words, we’ll have sent a powerful message to the entire political system to avoid at all hazards any tinkering with Medicare except to make it more generous for the already covered.

If we win, we’ll trumpet the success as a great triumph for liberty and individualism. Really though it will be a triumph for inertia. To the extent that anybody in the conservative world still aspires to any kind of future reform and improvement of America’s ossified government, that should be a very ashy victory indeed.

I’m not sure if Frum realizes that most modern Republicans have no concept of governing. They are far better as an opposition party (greatly out performing the Democrats here) but, as we saw during the Bush years, actual governing is totally beyond them. For the Republicans the goal is simply to win political points and use this to increase how much power they have in government. This worked well for them after the collapse of HillaryCare allowed them to take control of Congress. Once in government their only real concern is attempting to maintain and expand their power without any real idea of what to do with it.

As for the consequences if the conservatives win, most likely this will mean an even bigger government program when the current system totally collapses. The longer we wait, I fear the worse the solution will be. Back in 2004 John Kerry ran with a health care plan which lacked any mandates and was very conservative compared to the plans under consideration this year. The Republicans opposed it, calling it a government takeover of health care. If they were smart they would have have taken this plan in order to prevent the plans which are being discussed this year from becoming necessary. This is also one reason why so many physicians, and so many in the insurance and pharmaceutical industries, are considering going along with this year’s plans. We realize that maintaining the status quo is not an option, and that to delay reform even longer will probably mean an even bigger government program than is now being proposed once the private insurance industry totally collapses.

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  1. 1
    MedCred says:

    #healthcare #health » What If Republicans Win The Healthcare Fight? Liberal Values: What woul.. http://bit.ly/z6A1z

  2. 2
    Eclectic Radical says:

    This is a very on-target analysis. Of course, I disagree when it comes to a bigger government program necessarily being automatically ‘bad.’ I think a sound program is necessary, and the fact that we are a big country means that a sound program would have to be big in order to meet its goals.
    All that aside, it is certainly true that when the system collapses, ‘socialized medicine’ on the Australian, British, or Canadian model will almost certainly be the result. If the current system collapses, such a system will be absolutely necessary. There won’t be a lot of choice in the matter. Republicans truly opposed to such a system would be wise to keep that in mind.

  3. 3
    MedBlogger says:

    #healthcare #health » What If Republicans Win The Healthcare Fight? Liberal Values: What woul.. http://bit.ly/z6A1z

  4. 4
    Ron Chusid says:

    A bigger government program might not necessarily be bad but those who oppose health care reform see it this way and their tactics will probably give them what they fear the most. I also fear that a big government program brought about out of necessity in a crisis situation will not be the ideal solution.

  5. 5
    Charity says:

    Why do people refuse to think for themselves. Becuase if they did Government will always exist in your private lives. For the last eight years it was called IRAQ! Millions of Americans lives were adversly affected by the cost of this war! But becuase the phrase Big Government wasn’t tagged on the label it made it not so. By the way I do understand the concept behind the phrase Big Government, and thus social programs. However most people equate Big government as something bad instead of observing how the government is serving more specifically the role it should play in improving the live’s of millions of American regardless of the label you choose to call it the process. If the republicans win the health care fight it will backfire on them with a vengence!

  6. 6
    Fritz says:

    Actually, the Iraq war was certainly tagged by many of us with the label “Big Government”.

  7. 7
    Ron Chusid says:

    Charity does have a point that the typical conservative who says they oppose big government does not consider the war or military spending to be part of big government.

  8. 8
    Fritz says:

    Since defense is one of the few government operations that people who believe in limited government see as legitimate, then military actions taken as part of defense get more of a pass, to be sure.  Of course, it was a hell of a stretch to view Iraq 2 as “defense”.

  9. 9
    Eclectic Radical says:

    Keep in mind, Fritz, she’s primarily going after the Republicans who supported the Iraq war whole-heartedly despite the huge cost (which has been pretty well documented as having easily paid for whatever social programs any Democrat might have wanted several times over) and are now condemning spending money. 😉

  10. 10
    Ron Chusid says:

    The Republican philosophy then is not really anti government spending but against spending money on programs they oppose while not caring about government spending on big government programs they support. The difference between the parties isn’t as much a matter of how much they spend but what they spend the money on. The Republicans are hardly a party of small government (which I bet Fritz will agree with).

  11. 11
    Fritz says:

    Republicans are, if anything, even less monolithic than Democrats.  But certainly the last decade+ has had big government Republicans in clear control of the party.  And even with the last two elections they are holding on to power within the GOP.   One of the many problems with the “redistrict for incumbents”  pattern is that it is really hard to clean house.

  12. 12
    Ron Chusid says:

    There are certainly Republicans who do not share the views of the current Republicans in control, but they are far more monolitic than the Democrats. The Republicans have done far more to enforce party unity, driving out those who disagree with the current party line. As a consequence the Democratic Party has become much more of a big tent, including conservatives who can no longer tolerate the GOP, moderates and liberals. There are still a handle of moderates and maybe some liberals in the Republican Party but they have turned into an inconsequential minority.

    Redistricting to protect incumbents is certainly a factor, but there are other ways in which the GOP enforces conformity with their views.

  13. 13
    Eclectic Radical says:

    “There are still a handle of moderates and maybe some liberals in the Republican Party but they have turned into an inconsequential minority.”
    I don’t know what it’s like now… I know that Nancy Pelosi’s repeated Republican opponent in her last few congressional races has been challenging her from the left. He was against the Iraq War when she was for ‘cooperation’ with Bush and he was for legalization of marijuana when she was against it.
    But then she’s from the San Francisco area. A conservative Republican is as electable in Frisco as I would be here in Tennessee. 😉

  14. 14
    Ron Chusid says:

    I imagine that if there are liberal Republicans anywhere it might be around San Francisco. It is often possible in a small region for someone to vary from their party. I’m not surprised that a liberal could make it in a Congressional race, but I doubt the same person would have a shot getting a Republican nomination in a state wide race. Even Arnold would have never received the GOP nomination to run for Governor if he had to run in the conventional manner.

  15. 15
    Eclectic Radical says:

    No, he couldn’t. Most California Republicans represent stolidly conservative districts in the farm belts while others are repeatedly elected on ‘moderate’ platforms but then vote with the conservatives on every issue. I don’t know of any liberal California Republicans in Congress…
    The guy in question (and the other liberal Republican congressional candidates I am aware of in CA) are all no-hopers in races the GOP has no hope of winning and so the statewide (let alone national) party organization has no interest in the districts. So someone gets together a barnstorming campaign and gets a few people like themselves (I can’t say if it is still true, but there used to be a fair number of liberal Republican voters in CA… my parents, as I have mentioned before, left-over Rockefeller Republicans… though my mother finally changed party registrations) and manages to win a primary with almost no voter turn-out. Then they attack the moderate or faux-liberal Democrat from the left in an attempt to make a statement about the ‘real’ values of the Republican Party. And they lose, because they are running in unwinnable districts for a Republican.
    Of course, it’s important to remember that some of them could not be telling the entire truth about their liberal positions. Mitt Romney, after all, ran against Teddy Kennedy from the left for the old lion’s Senate seat. Promised to sponsor a bill legalizing gay marriage if elected. 😉

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