I've been watching the health care debate over the last few weeks very closely. It's one of the most important policy challenges facing this country--second only to the national debt and the economy. So far, it seems that the GOP's strategy can best be summarized in the following manner.
PLAN A: Quickly, quietly, and in the most partisan manner possible, secretively draft a very bad piece of health care legislation and then rush it out for a vote before the rest of Congress or the public can read it and see how bad it is.
Result: Failed (in a matter of days).
PLAN B: Quickly, quietly, and in the most partisan manner possible, secretively draft a very bad piece of health care legislation that makes only the bare minimum of improvements on Plan A's bill and then rush it out for a vote before the rest of Congress or the public can read it and see how bad it is.
Result: Failed (in a matter of days).
PLAN C: Simply give up on any sort of reform at all and instead just repeal Obamacare.
Result: Failed (the very next day).
PLAN D: Simply give up even on efforts to repeal Obamacare, hope it fails (no matter how many Americans that hurts), and then see if we can quickly, quietly, and in the most partisan manner possible, secretively draft a very bad piece of health care legislation and then rush it out for a vote before the rest of Congress or the public can read it and see how bad it is.
Result: Does it really matter? (If the plan succeeds, then the country fails. If the plan fails, then the country fails.)
CAVEAT 1 TO PLANS A THROUGH D: If possible, vote on bills before the CBO has had a chance to evaluate them because when you've written bad bills, objective assessments are not your friend.
CAVEAT 2 TO PLANS A THROUGH D: If possible, convince junior members of Congress to ignore the fact that insurance companies, doctor groups, patient groups, government researchers, university researchers, and non-profits all oppose the bill--a rare instance of complete unity across the health care stakeholder spectrum. (In other words, convince more junior members of Congress to ignore the fact that the only people who support these bills are the more senior members of Congress who paid staffers to write the bills for no other reason than to be able to say that they fulfilled a campaign promise. They might as well just pass a blank sheet of paper that says "Obamacare Repeal" and then pat themselves on the proverbial back.)
The political calculation of Mitch McConnell, who is quite possibly one of the worst Republican leaders currently living--and very near the worst even if we also include those who are no longer living as well as those who have never lived--also is absolutely impossible for more rational minds to grasp. First he decides to put up for vote a bill that stands no chance of passing. No surprise here: It fails. Then he calculates that drafting another bill that stands no chance of passing is just what the doctor (no pun intended) ordered. Lo and behold, it fails too! Finally, he decides simply to repeal Obamacare outright, and what do you know: This effort failed before he'd even written the bill.
He has now nearly single-handedly assured the GOP, which is running the least productive government in history, of a significant black eye in next year's elections. Let's be honest: Even though I'm a Republican, I'm well aware that since the GOP took control of the government, absolutely nothing has happened that would give the American people any confidence that we are actually able to govern. The GOP can't pass bills through Congress even though we control BOTH houses of Congress, and we certainly aren't bothering to lift a finger to bring on board any Democratic support. (They did this to us, so we should do it to them, right? The American people are paying us large salaries simply to do unto the others as they did unto us, right?)
What ever happened to reaching across the aisle, sitting down in good faith, and speaking in terms of what is good and bad for the American people? What ever happened to setting aside partisanship and simply committing to drafting the best piece of health care legislation possible? What ever happened to the idea that it's better to do something right or to not do it at all? What ever happened to the idea that it's better to do something right than to do it fast? What ever happened to wanting to craft into legislation ideas that would garner overwhelming support, not ones that are considered an utter blowout if they can pass one house of Congress by just one vote?
What ever happened to the fact that the point of being in office isn't to defeat the other side but is to win for the American people?
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