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Hullabaloo


Monday, June 25, 2012

 
Mandate madness

by digby

Ezra has a rundown of how the Republicans strategized their opposiiton to health care. This is just an excerpt:

The first step was, perhaps, the hardest: The Republican Party had to take an official and unanimous stand against the wisdom and constitutionality of the individual mandate. Typically, it’s not that difficult for the opposition party to oppose the least popular element in the majority party’s largest initiative. But the individual mandate was a policy idea Republicans had thought of in the late-1980s and supported for two decades. They had, in effect, to convince every Republican to say that the policy they had been supporting was an unconstitutional assault on liberty.
But they succeeded. In December 2009 every Senate Republican voted to call the individual mandate unconstitutional. They did this even though a number of them had their names on bills that included an individual mandate.


Ok. But here I am again, saying well, yeah. It's right there on page 376 of the health care chapter of the Republican Playbook. It was written by Bill Kristol in 1993:

Any Republican urge to negotiate a "least bad" compromise with the Democrats, and thereby gain momentary public credit for helping the president "do something" about health care, should also be resisted. Passage of the Clinton health care plan, in any form, would guarantee and likely make permanent an unprecedented federal intrusion into and disruption of the American economy--and the establishment of the largest federal entitlement program since Social Security. Its success would signal a rebirth of centralized welfare-state policy at the very moment we have begun rolling back that idea in other areas. And, not least, it would destroy the present breadth and quality of the American health care system, still the world's finest. On grounds of national policy alone, the plan should not be amended; it should be erased...

The president makes his pitch to the 79 percent of Americans who are inclined to agree that "the system" isn't working, hoping to freeze health care debate on the level of grand generalization about structural defects. He is on the side of the angels rhetorically--denunciations of the status quo, easy moralism about his own alternative, rosy predictions of a utopian future in which security is absolutely guaranteed. Republicans can defeat him by shifting that debate toward specific, commonsense questions about the effect of Clinton's proposed reforms on individual American citizens and their families, the vast majority of whom, again, are content with the medical services they already enjoy.

Republicans should ask: what will Bill Clinton's health care plan do to the relationship most Americans now have with their family doctor or pediatrician. What will it do to the quality of care they receive? Such questions are the beginning of a genuine moral-political argument, based on human rather than bureaucratic needs. And they allow Republicans to trump Clinton's security strategy with an appeal to the enlightened self-interest of middle-class America.


Granted, the constitutional question itself was new, but so what? The political strategy was exactly the same. The mandate was just an added agenda item among all the others that were designed to make people feel they were losing something instead of gaining.

And the mandate issue was a good one. Even a lot of liberals, including yours truly, were queasy about it because we hated the idea of being forced to buy a product from sleazy insurance companies who are making a profit from this government edict. It wasn't all that difficult to see that it would be controversial.

Anyway, the hard line opposition was baked into the cake. Why anyone ever thought otherwise is beyond me. This is the political world we live in --- have been living in for some time. I don't understand the surprise.


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