Republican Folly Harms Both The Country And Conservative Interests

In December I concluded a post by saying, “The Republicans cannot be taken seriously when they refuse to participate responsibly in the process when there is need for the government to act.” The post discussed the need for a meaningful opposition party which would present opposing solutions to problems, as opposed to the GOP which pretends problems do not exist and opposes any action. Bruce Bartlett, a former adviser to Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, makes a similar argument about the problems, including interfering with achieving conservative goals, arising from Republican rigidity.

For example, their position on health care reform is that it’s pure evil–it’s unconstitutional for the government to force anyone to buy health insurance, to tax anyone to pay for someone else’s coverage or interfere with the free market in any way, even if people die as a consequence.

The right-wing solution to the uninsured is simply to define them out of existence. As Dr. John Goodman, one of John McCain’s health advisers, explained to the Dallas Morning News last year, “The next president of the United States should sign an executive order requiring the Census Bureau to cease and desist from describing any American–even illegal aliens–as uninsured….So, there you have it. Voila! Problem solved.” His Orwellian logic is that hospital emergency rooms are by law available even to those that cannot pay; therefore, everyone by definition has health coverage.

Putting aside the stupidity of this position, it’s unrealistic to elect 219 Ron Pauls, Michele Bachmanns or John Goodmans to the House of Representatives, plus 60 more in the Senate and a president who won’t veto their efforts–that’s what it would take to repeal the coming health reform legislation. Nevertheless, right-wingers insist that this is what they will do after the next election–and any Republican not on board can expect someone from the tin-foil-hat brigade to run against them even if it means electing a Democrat instead, as was the case recently in New York’s 23rd Congressional district.

There is no question that there are at least a few sensible conservative ideas about health reform worth considering; malpractice reform is one. And I believe that Democrats desperately wanted a bipartisan bill and would have given a lot to get a few Republicans on board. This undoubtedly would have led to enactment of a better health bill than the one we are likely to get.

But Republicans never put forward an alternative health proposal. Instead, they took the position that our current health system is perfect just as it is. I’m told that the respected health policy analyst at a major conservative think tank was prohibited from offering any criticism of the current system lest it undermine the Republican position that no change is needed.

While conservatives do greatly exaggerate the effect of malpractice on health care costs, it does not make sense to promote plans to cut health care costs while ignoring such costs. If Republicans had participated in the process as opposed to making it clear that, other than perhaps for the Senators from Maine, there was no chance to pick up any Republican votes, they could have influenced the final bill. This would have also decreased the ability of Lieberman and Nelson to demand virtually anything for their vote.

He also discussed how Republicans have lost the opportunity to have a significant decrease in the estate tax by demanding a complete repeal and making it all or nothing:

By 1997, this group was successful in raising the estate tax exemption from $600,000 to $1 million and carving out a special exemption of $1.3 million for family businesses. But this achievement did nothing to even slow down the effort for total repeal. Democrats offered to permanently reduce estate tax rates by 20% across the board, which would have reduced the top rate from 55% to 44%, increase the regular exemption by 15% and the special exemption for family businesses to $2 million.

This proposal was rejected out of hand. It was all or nothing, the Republicans demanded. In 2000, they sent a repeal bill to the White House, where it was promptly vetoed by Bill Clinton. He made it clear that he would have signed a more modest reform bill, as he had signed the 1997 measure, but was opposed to completely exempting great wealth from the estate tax–if only for revenue reasons, since the estate tax contributed $50 billion per year to the Treasury…

In the years since 2001, Democrats have repeatedly made it clear that they were open to some sort of permanent fix to the estate tax. The current situation is absurd and makes it almost impossible to do competent estate planning. As recently as Dec. 3, Democrats passed a bill in the House that would permanently raise the estate tax exemption to $3.5 million and reduce the top rate to 45%. Every Republican voted no. Republicans in the Senate also blocked an effort to enact this legislation there as well.

Republicans claim to be defending the small family business in their demands to abolish the estate tax. If they rejected these limitations they make it clear that their goal is purely to protect the ultra-wealthy, not the small businessman.  Similarly, Republican opposition to health care reform is designed not to promote conservative policies but to protect the health insurance companies. The policies of the Republican Party are not only destructive to the country. They are also counterproductive for those who legitimately support conservative principles as opposed to the actual Republican policies of using government to protect the ultra-wealthy.

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7 Comments

  1. 1
    Holly Anderson says:

    » Republican Folly Harms Both The Country And Conservative …: But Republicans never put forward an alternativ.. http://bit.ly/6iJNtt

  2. 2
    kevin sullivan says:

    I also agree with you, that the Republican are doing a great thing in promoting tort reform as one of many and numerous ideas offered to lower the cost of health reform. What I do not understand, about the Democratic idea, to reform the best health care industry in the world, is why they want to alter it to benefit just a small group of those who do not want health care? Millions of American people, and illegal aliens, choose a life style that it deleterious to common sense good health. The Republican approach, that has been promoted and declared a thousand times over, is to offer health care plans over state bounderies. In other words, make the health plans that are offered in Alabama also be available to those living in Idaho or New Jersey. Competition in this one area will drive the price down. The higher prices we have seen rise in the last 15 years is the result of less competition together with a substantial rise in lawsuites. These lawsuites are very costly to the insurance business. They have no choice but to pass on these costs to the consumers and hospitals. If we concentrate on just these two areas, as the Republicans are so keen on, then it will not raise the taxes on everyone who do not want a tax increase. These lowering costs and competition have always been the  hallmark of the Republican idealism. 

    Kevin 

  3. 3
    Ron Chusid says:

    “What I do not understand, about the Democratic idea, to reform the best health care industry in the world, is why they want to alter it to benefit just a small group of those who do not want health care?’

    That’s not the case at all. This alters it for those who want health care but are unable to obtain coverage, and alters it for those who have care to prevent them from being dropped when they become sick, which is too frequently the case.

    “The Republican approach, that has been promoted and declared a thousand times over, is to offer health care plans over state bounderies.”

    That would make a bad situation much worse. The Republican idea is to allow insurance companies, which are already acting in abusive ways, to act even worse and make it even easier for them to deny care nation wide. This is just a scheme to avoid regulation by allowing insurance companies to sell from whatever state has the weakest regulations.

    These ideas would do very little to reduce costs, while increasing the number of people who are denied coverage when sick.

  4. 4
    DontTreadOnMe says:

    Ok.  You’re a Liberal and I am a Conservative.  We do agree on one thing.  The Republicans suck.  Our reasoning to said conclusion might differ however.  The Republicans are infected with Liberals who take up space within that party.  Those Liberals need to be purged if the Republican Party is to fulfill its self appointed duty as THE conservative party.  Mr. Bushes “compassionate conservative” is nothing more than a disguise for “Liberal”.  I hold little hope that they will be able to rid themselves of these pretenders.
    Now you say: “The Republicans cannot be taken seriously when they refuse to participate responsibly in the process when there is need for the government to act”.  Poppycock.  The Pelosi/Reid wall of lies, and partisanship has foiled any attempt by conservatives to participate.  Pelosi/Reid have locked Republicans out of meetings, switched the power off when they tried to maintain vigil, knowingly and brazenly ignored their own parliamentary rules after making such a fuss about decorum.  With a supermajority the DemoNatzi’s are running rough-shod over everyone.
     
    Also you say: “But Republicans never put forward an alternative health proposal. Instead, they took the position that our current health system is perfect just as it is”.  False.  One conservative view is market based.  The idea is to free up competition in the currently government hindered system allowing everyone to seek coverage from any company in any state.  One of many not even considered by the Pelosi/Reid Iron Curtain.
     
    And finally you say: “They are also counterproductive for those who legitimately support conservative principles as opposed to the actual Republican policies of using government to protect the ultra-wealthy”.  Career politicians think themselves the upper class and as such should not, cannot, will not be subjected to the same Laws that bind us, the unwashed masses.  There are more ultra-wealthy DemoNatzis in Congress than Republicans.  How can we believe that they are going to tax the ultra-wealthy, when they are the ultra-wealthy.  That is what loop-holes are for.  That is why there are always loop-holes.  The problem is not “Republican policies”.  No it is career politicians Republocrat and DemoNatzi alike.  The feel they are the elite, above the law, better than us all.

  5. 5
    b-psycho says:

    The constant insertion of “…but the ILLEGALS!!” in these kinds of discussion is really getting annoying.  We’re not going to have ER staff asking for papers, so it’s useless to bring it up.

  6. 6
    Ron Chusid says:

    Liberals in the Republican Party–they have already gotten rid of most of them.

    The “market based” ideas for health care proposed by the GOP are hardly serious alternatives. They do nothing to solve the problem. They are just proposals put out on behalf of the insurance industry to increase their profits without solving the problems.

  7. 7
    Ron Chusid says:

    b-psycho,

    But what ideas would the conservatives have left if we take away their racism and xenophobia? 🙂

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