Thank God that Ronald Reagan put his principles ahead of politics. As regular readers know, I'm not fully enamored by Dick Morris, but one of the best quotes on polling I've ever heard comes from Dick Morris. To paraphrase, Morris said politicians should never lead based on polling, but should lead based on principle and use polling to shape the message to enact those principles into law.
That's what Ronald Reagan did. Consider that in the early 1980's his policy of confrontation with the Soviet Union was actually not popular in the polls. Likewise, his policy of keeping interest rates high to kill off inflation was decidedly not popular.
But he held the course and history proved him right. Reagan put his conservative principles ahead of polls and turned the polling toward him. Contrast that with news out late yesterday that Republicans have thrown in the towel on getting rid of portions of Obamacare.
Yes, yes, they'll vote once or twice on full repeal, but they want to keep a few provisions that are totally noxious to the free market and will ultimately undermine private health care insurance in America, but sure poll well.
Here's the quote:
Speaking to more than 100 students at American University, Cantor said, "What you will see us do is to push for repeal of the healthcare bill, and at the same time, contemporaneously, submit our replacement bill, that has in it the provisions [barring discrimination due to pre-existing conditions and offering young people affordable care options]." . . . .
"We too don't want to accept any insurance company's denial of someone and coverage for that person because he or she may have pre-existing condition," Cantor said, addressing a young woman in the audience who noted that she had a pre-existing health condition.
Now, Eric Cantor's office put out a statement at 3:08 p.m., a copy of which his office emailed to me. In it, Cantor's Office said he supports "full repeal of" Obamacare.
Yes, the Republicans support full repeal of Obamacare, but then they'll resubmit their own bill and add to it some of the very same things Obama put in. And we need to pay attention to something key here.
The Republicans want to force insurance companies to cover people with pre-existing conditions. That sounds nice, but the only way to pay for it is either an individual mandate, which the GOP says is unconstitutional, or federal subsidy.
As Rush Limbaugh noted on his radio program yesterday, the pre-existing conditions mandate is akin to the government telling an insurance company that they must insure someone's house as the house is in the process of burning down.
Then of course there is the slacker mandate — that provision that lets the youth of America not have to grow up and move out by letting them stay on their parents' insurance.
Both of these provisions simply drive up the cost of health care. There are plenty of free-market conservative solutions out there. These two just happen to not be among them.
Saying you want to repeal Obamacare and then resurrect a few of its provisions is noxious. The whole thing should die and new ideas should be put forward that actually use the free market to lower costs instead of escalate costs.
Ultimately though, we know the GOP is going to try to repeal Obamacare, the Senate will kill it, and the GOP will move on. Rep. Steve Buyer (R-IN) pretty much admitted that on Sean Hannity's show yesterday.
Rep. Buyer misses the point — Obamacare is and will remain unpopular. The GOP should bring up full repeal repeatedly and build momentum into 2012. Then we can have a fully energized base ready to defeat Obama and elect a President who will not use his veto pen to stop them.
Ronald Reagan always thought about his vision for America. It was a long term vision that required long term planning.
The problem with the GOP today is they are short term thinkers with flash in the pan polling. And that will be their undoing.