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Sep. 21 2009 - 7:52 pm | 11 views | 0 recommendations | 10 comments

It’s Smart Politics For Republicans To Compromise On Health Care Reform

Max Baucus

I write one, Jason writes one, I write another, and Jason writes another.

And so I write this…

I don’t accept the premise that because the conversation isn’t less strident in the extreme left blogosphere that it creates a “disincentive” for Republicans to back health care reform. In fact, there are many more reasons for Republicans to support the Baucus legislation than to not…so let’s get in to those now…

Most hardcore liberals, especially the blogosphere variety, are completely against the Baucus bill. What this means is that the legislation will probably appeal to most independents, moderate Dems and moderate Repubs. Who decides elections? Every pollster alive will tell you it’s the swing voters. What do swing voters look for? Politicians who compromise. It’s not a difficult electoral calculation.

So, actually, the left railing against the bipartisan legislation as not pure enough should be an incentive for Republicans to support it so they can show independents that they’re learning from their historic defeat last fall.

Here’s another incentive for the Rs…their ideas get into the most important health care reform legislation in the past 50 years. Listen, they had the opportunity FOR DECADES to do something about health care and yet they sat on their hands and let millions go without health insurance, go bankrupt as a result of skyrocketing costs or simply were refused insurance because of pre-existing condition clauses. Well, now Repubs are seriously outnumbered and they’re in danger of not having a say if they don’t back the Baucus bill…which absolutely gives them a serious seat at the table. And, by the way, Dems don’t have to do that. And yet they are.

Want another incentive? How about containing health care costs? Baucus’ bill makes significant cuts in Medicare and CHIP and replaces it with private insurance. It doesn’t have an employer mandate. And the CBO actually said it’ll reduce the budget deficit after a decade. So they could actually make a very strong case to their base that this bill represents fiscal conservatism in action since Medicare is KILLING us and driving up the budget deficits.

So there are some of the incentives to sign on. I’m sure there could be some more, but those are all the high level, apparent ones.

Now then…what about the incentives not to?

First, it’ll piss off their base. But at this point do they really think the base won’t show up if they’re extreme enough to question whether or not Obama is a citizen? Again, let’s reference the swing voter logic. Any support they lose from their base will be offset by independent support due to their bipartisan nature. I think we all agree that the politicians that fall more in the middle are those who have more electoral success. Still…they could piss off their base.

Second, it’s a smart political move to oppose this because they can demagogue health care in 2010/2012. This is the only real reason I can think that makes any sense why they’d be against it, especially after they signed EVERYTHING Bush put in front of them (including that drug prescription bill). So all of sudden they’re finding fiscal conservative religion after Obama gets elected? Consider me unconvinced that this sudden turnaround is prompted by a bunch of left wing bloggers.

(At this point you’ll have to read Jason’s post to gain greater context for the next part, but he calls me naive. I take this with a grain of salt because I know Jason, I consider him a friend and I know he’s prone to hyperbole. Nonetheless…)

As far as naive, well, I’ll take the bait.

Who’s more naive…

  • The guy who’s telling Republicans they better wise up, play fair and sign on to a bill (that liberals are professing they hate) so they can have some say in the legislation and possibly win independents in 2010?
  • OR

  • The guy who’s basing the entire premise of his argument on the idea that leftist bloggers who demand ideological purity are somehow shaping the debate and moderate Dem bloggers have to answer them to such a degree that we reshape the debate or Republicans will not have incentive enough to play bipartisan ball?

Also, and let’s just get this out of the way now…hyper partisanship was started by the right wing shock jocks like Rush Limbaugh back in the 80s, was picked up by Newt Gingrich and Richard Mellon Scaife in the 90s and only until blogging started did Dems fight back in any demonstrable way. That certainly doesn’t excuse the truly moon-battiest of them all, but Republicans authored this playbook and have been using it for decades to flood the media with misinfo to shape the debate and win elections. Long story short, if hyperpartisanship is really creating the mood for Repubs to oppose health care, well, isn’t that a convenient whipping boy.

One last point and then I’m ready to bury this topic and move on since it’s pretty obvious that Jason and simply aren’t going to agree…Moderate Dems like myself do not own the tone and tenor of the debate on the left, nor are we responsible for monitoring it and calling people out. I, and my reasonable blogging friends, started this mid-o-sphere as a place where real debate can happen. That’s our contribution. It’s not sexy and it takes a lot of work, but I think we do a decent job at it. Sure, on occasion I’ll call somebody out on here, as I did with Pelosi earlier this summer, but when I’m arguing policy and intentions (as I’m doing in this health care debate) I don’t think I need to take into account the effect that some bloggers on the left are having on the mindset and motivations of Republican politicians. There will ALWAYS be people yelling on both sides, and, as I mentioned above, that should be incentive for politicians to move towards the middle, not further left or right.

Here’s the question: Will Republican compromise on this health bill?

(Photo: Getty via Daylife)


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  1. collapse expand

    You answered your own question. NO, if it is smart politically the GOP will not do it, because they are in a death spiral as a party. The only agenda they have is to say NO to everything Obama proposes, period, end of story. The GOP thinking is, Obama is going to be unpopular in 2010 and if he has not passed any legislation with their help they can blame the unhappiness of the voter on Obama and take back seats. No concern for the Country, all politically motivated. The GOP really think the American voters are that stupid; it will end up bankrupting their party for a couple more election cycles.

  2. collapse expand

    It’s Smart Politics For Republicans To Compromise On Health Care Reform…?

    Keep dreamin’ baby…

  3. collapse expand

    Mr. Gardner,

    You are looking too short term, you lack vision. First, by compromising on health care reform, the Republicans would give the Democrats in general and Mr. Obama in particular a huge victory that will give them momentum going into the 2010 election. Second, if health care reform is successful, it would seriously undercut one of the last remaining solid Republican base, the rural white vote – the very people turning red in the face opposing health care reform. Republican strategists fear, rightly, that successful health care reform would will win an entire generation of voters as life-lone Democrats just FDR’s reforms did in the 1930’s. While individual Republican candidates may benefit by supporting health care reform, the party as a whole will lose, in a big way for a long time. This is why William Kristol argued that the Republican Party should oppose “Hillary-care” in the early ’90’s and why the party is opposing “Obama-care” now, it is long-term strategic threat to the Republican hold on the the less affluent white vote in general but in the south in particular.

  4. collapse expand

    Wow. Liberals are against the Baccus bill out of ideological purity? Where in the world did you get that? Here I though liberals were against the bill because it was written by the insurance companies to benefit the insurance companies and raises middle class costs and does nothing to contain costs and gives government money to companies that have caused the problem in the first place.

    Now the Republicans are in the process of inserting poison pills into the bill to make it unpalatable to everyone.

    It is the republicans who are ideologically opposed to the bill feeling the only way to avoid socialism is to create a middleman between the government and the doctors and hospitals who actually deliver health care. Like the mafia these companies skim money from all of us for protection.

  5. collapse expand

    Do you have an antidote for the Obama elixir as prescribed by George Soros and the far left? As shown in this video, I wish we had more congressmen like John Hue Pubic who read what he was asked to sign. Watch -http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WB6p5QPVhPI, but don’t swallow the elixir. After you finish watching the video, ask yourselves these questions.
    Why are the public officials we elleted allowing Obama to shred our Constitution? Do you think Obama should remake the health care system with new federal regulations, mandates and big-government? Do you think that taking money from the productive sector of our society and distributing it to the nonproductive will solve all of our problems? Why is congress and other politicians dooing nothing about the Obama czars and other communist- fashist appointees he chose to assist him in shreding our constitution? If the thread http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WB6p5QPVhPI I posted doesn’t turn live, copy and past it onto Google.
    Cybercorrespondent
    http://cybercorrespondent.blogspot.com

  6. collapse expand

    “Most hardcore liberals, especially the blogosphere variety, are completely against the Baucus bill. What this means is that the legislation will probably appeal to most independents, moderate Dems and moderate Repubs. Who decides elections? Every pollster alive will tell you it’s the swing voters. What do swing voters look for? Politicians who compromise. It’s not a difficult electoral calculation.”

    I take issue with both your premise and your conclusion here.

    First, who is to say that swing voters necessarily approve of the Baucus bill because progressives don’t like it? Baucus has taken fire from just about everyone for his bill, not just progressives.

    Second of all, one key element of the various bills being thrown around — the public option — is quite popular amongst all segments of the public (I believe polling generally shows nearly 50% of self-identified Republicans believe in it), so again I ask, what makes Baucus’s bill supposedly popular among independents/swing voters/people who aren’t ultra-partisan? Simply being opposed by bloggers does not a moderate health care bill make.

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    I run the multi-partisan blog Donklephant. If you never been before, it's a site where everybody is welcome to come and have an open, honest debate about the news of the day. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't, but it's always interesting.

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