I pray that I am wrong, but I firmly believe that the die was cast in favor of ObamaCare today. No, not simply because liberal GOP Sen. Olympia Snowe voted for the Senate Finance Committee bill. No, not even because the Democrats have 60 Senators. ObamaCare will pass because WE, the GOP, have failed to offer a viable alternative.
The majority of Americans oppose ObamaCare; yet an even larger majority want some kind of health care reform. The polls are in our favor, the facts are in our favor. Sadly, the leadership of both houses lack the political backbone to put forth a comprehensive solution.
Why? We’re the party of “Vote For Us – We’re Not The Other Guys”.
Has everyone forgotten HOW we won a majority in 1994? … and how we DESERVEDLY lost that majority in 2006?
Congressional Republicans crawled out of the political wilderness in 1994 on the back of IDEAS – concrete policy proposals and a manifesto stating what we, as a party, stood for. Voters finally threw us out when they realized that, after only four years in the majority, we abandoned every principle we claimed to hold dear EXCEPT cutting taxes, being pro-death penalty and being opposed to abortion. It just took the voters eight years to finally throw us out.
BACK TO OBAMACARE . . .
We can offer a viable alternative to the Senate Finance Committee bill because it is the only one which has a chance of passing both houses. Democrats won’t be able to whine about not “covering everyone”. However, it has to be an alternative. 10 second sound bites simply won’t do. We have to show how it will save Americans money and insure more of us. Remember – the Finance Committee bill already admits that it doesn’t come close to being “universal coverage”. Such an alternative would have to include:
Tort Reform –
The CBO has gone on record that tort reform will save $54 billion over the next 10 years. While members of Congress might stick their collective noses up at such a sum, taxpayers will not.
Interstate Access to Health Insurance –
We hear the joys of “co-ops” and “federal insurance exchanges” from the Democrats; we can easily explain the value of employers being able to purchase policies from any carrier in the country. It can be easily demonstrated how easy it will be to obtain individual coverage on the internet (which also lowers costs).
Caveat – such a proposal needs to include safeguards which will prevent a few states from becoming domestic versions of “off shore”. The ability to pay claims must not be jeopardized.
Promote HSA’s –
I have an HSA. I hate it. However, they are affordable and make individuals more savvy consumers of health care. With government at all levels spending like drunken sailors, voters can be persuaded to appreciate the benefits of taking responsibility for their own use of health care dollars.
Pre-Existing Conditions –
In all honesty, I don’t know whether this is as big an issue as Democrats would have us think. However, we face certain tough choices if it is. How can you force carriers to cover pre-existing conditions IF you don’t have some kind of individual mandate? Portability also needs to be addressed.
I don’t claim to be a policy wonk. That said, I believe that these are the basics of a viable alternative to the Senate Finance Committee proposal. Without such an alternative, I envision Blue Dogs in the House and even a few moderate Republicans actually voting for the Baucus bill (or some form of it).
Rather than simply being the “Party of NO”, a comprehensive alternative signed off by the GOP caucuses in both houses can be used to rally grassroots activists against ObamaCare while being FOR something. Ultimately, that is what it will take for us to become a majority party over the long haul.
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G. A. Harrison currently lives in Salisbury, MD and covers Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia politics at Delmarva Dealings.