City of Brass

City of Brass


Republicans: It’s a trap!

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

Barackbar Obama

All along, the Republicans have insisted that they are not merely obstructionists seeking to derail health care for purely political purposes (“It’s Obama’s Waterloo”, etc), but rather that they have genuine ideas on reform to contribute, but have been excluded by Democrats from the process. The reform bill is an ultra-leftist socialist agenda in disguise, they argue, rammed through Congress by a partisan majority uninterested in compromise.

This is, of course, total nonsense. The Republicans have not offered any ideas of their own beyond the same formula of tort reform, tax cuts, and privatization. They waved pieces of paper during Obama’s SOTU as props but they have not negotiated in good faith with the Democrats. The 60-seat majority meant that the Democrats were uniquely vulnerable, ironically, to the demands of their most conservative members like Joe Lieberman and Ben Nelson, who essentially advanced Republican ideas during the process. The result is that the Senate bill is not even remotely a leftist bill but actually right of center, something that the Republicans themselves could have passed anytime during their own complete control of Congress during the Bush Administration’s early years, were they inclined to govern. And yet, the progressive left and the liberal establishment are unified in declaring that even this is better than nothing and will make a meaningful difference in people’s lives.

Throughout this entire process, its been the left which has been pragmatic and willing to compromise – even on major centerpiece reforms like the public option – just to get something done. Meanwhile the right has done everything it can to stop any reform dead in its tracks. There’s real blood on their hands.

So, on Sunday the President invited Republicans to join him for a health care summit on Feb 25th, so that they can offer their ideas on reform with full transparency and the American people as witness. The media would attend and broadcast the summit so that everyone could see what was being discussed and what solutions were being proposed.

If the Republicans were serious about wanting a voice and input to reform, then they would leap at this chance. If they were serious about governing, they would leap seize the spotlight and bring their ideas to the table and make their case to the people, using the opportunity that the President has given them.

Naturally, their actual reaction is, as always, “No!”

The GOP is often referred to as the stupid party. Let’s pray they aren’t stupid enough to sit down with a President who has for six months dismissed them as having no ideas. Barack Obama says he wants a bipartisan approach to health care now. Well, there is bipartisan support for scrapping the current proposals and starting over.

Unless Barack Obama says they should scrap the present plans and start over, the GOP should not entertain his invitation to use a gaggle of Republicans to rehabilitate our socialist President.

The Republican leadership has even written a letter to Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel, arguing that a precondition for talks is the total scrapping of all the legislative work that has been done so far and starting over. As they know full well, if the Democrats do not deliver something to show for their work all last year on reform, the public will punish them at the polls. They are counting on it.

And make no mistake – the Republicans have never had any kind of credible alternative policy proposal:

Republicans, working in the minority, are not as close to a unified proposal. The House Republican leader, Representative John A. Boehner of Ohio, put forward an alternate bill as a substitute for the Democrats’ bill that was adopted on Nov. 7.

But Mr. Boehner and other House Republican leaders acknowledged that the proposal was purposely designed to be a scaled-back measure that did not try to extend health coverage to the vast majority of the nation’s uninsured. While the Democrats’ bills would extend coverage to more than 30 million people by 2019, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, the House Republicans’ bill would extend coverage to perhaps 3 million people, leaving about 52 million uninsured.

Other House Republicans, including Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin and John Shadegg of Arizona, have proposed more comprehensive legislation aimed at insuring many more people. But those proposals have not been fully analyzed by the Congressional Budget Office.

In the Senate, Republican leaders made a calculated strategic decision not to put forward a comprehensive alternative to the Democrats’ legislation. Trying to draft a single counterproposal inevitably would have embroiled Republicans in the same internal disagreements and disputes that divided Senate Democrats over health care ideas for much of the past year. Putting such a measure forward and then being unable to generate broad Republican support in a vote would have been embarrassing.

Instead, the Republicans went into the floor debate over the Democrats’ bills armed with dozens of individual amendments that most if not all of their caucus supported, but that might have been totally unworkable or even contradictory if pulled together into a bill.

As a result, Republicans appeared unified in their opposition to the Democrats’ proposal, even as Democrats fought fiercely among themselves to make various changes to their own legislation.

I for one hope that the GOP does not, in fact, attend the summit. It will reveal their obstructionism and lack of excuses with clarity, and hopefully be the final straw that spurs Democrats to action. There is indeed a way forward and in many ways it’s easier now without the 60 seat majority than it was before.

In a sense, the Republicans are right. The health care issue as a whole is a trap. But it’s one of their own devising – they are the ones who chose to obstruct rather than to govern, and they will have to answer for it.



  • BC

    Yes, refusing to let go of your principles and cave in to the other side is pure obstructionism. We do agree on one thing: we both hope the Republicans refuse to give the community organizer his photo-op. The GOP has had many proposals to reform the health care industry. Democrats do not. To them, reform means government take-over. No thanks. America hates it and the GOP is correct to channel that disapproval. If Obama and super-majorities in both houses can’t pass this turd, why should the GOP be the lipstick? Keep telling yourself that the evil GOP is to blame and watch them roll over your side in this year’s elections when they present free-market reforms to the center-right American populace. Remember, Scott Brown won by running against this plan in a deep-blue state. Take off your angry blinders.

  • wow

    “he result is that the Senate bill is not even remotely a leftist bill but actually right of center”
    WOW!
    Oh my, you are so full of sh*t you could float.
    The Republicans asked that the current Senate bill not be the starting point of discussions. And what do you see, total refusal to discuss the issue?
    Remember when the Democrats refused to address problems with social security? Remember when they refused to appoint judges for so long the ‘nuclear option’ was discussed? Probably not, because you were still in grade school at the time.
    Grow up. Until then, shut up.

  • mother and country

    Ask yourself. What does universal healthcare mean? It is what Mass. has and infact Senator Brown voted for it. What’s that tell you??
    And they, those in Mass. are so worried that they will lose it. Another whats that tell you.

  • mother and country

    And you wonder WhY they dont want this discussed openly for ALL to see.

  • New Age Cowboy

    Other countries with ‘government healthcare’ get better delivery and pay less per capita for services. I received healthcare in a ‘government’ system in South Korea. It was cheaper and I had immediate access, no referrals or even appointments for initial care.
    I work in healthcare and I’m aware of phenomena like drug resistant TB strains. A hypothetical symptomatic person without health insurance would have to pay several hundred dollars to get a chest X-ray at the community hospital. I wonder what their incentive to seek out treatment would be if they made minimum wage or were unemployed? Meanwhile they sure could transmit it to a lot of folks.
    The problem is our country has become completely myopic. Capitalism has dethroned God. Or, do God and the Church have a profit motive?
    I’m not completely against capitalism. It works very well with consumer goods and many services. But, it doesn’t work in every sphere of our lives. Not everything is up for sale.
    The Democrats compromise was right-of-center. And nothing they ever propose will please Republicans. So I say, why bother?

  • Katie Angel

    It doesn’t matter where the bill is politically, it is a bad bill for the American people. It doesn’t even come close to doing what the President articulated he wanted because of the greed on both sides of the aisle. Both the Republicans and the Democrats have hijacked this issue for political gain and left the American people in the same mess we were in a year ago. Republicans: come up with some NEW ideas where you aren’t just the spokesmodels for the insurance industry conglomerates. Democrats: stop trying to give away the store and work on making health care more affordable using market forces. And both of you – GET OVER YOURSELVES and allow the public choice – both to buy insurance across state lines and purchase insurance from a public option.

  • Valerie

    So tired of politics.. I will say that republicans sound like children.. They stomp and complain if they aren’t included, and when they’re invited along to DO SOMETHING, they say no and take their ball and go home. Grow up already and do the job you were elected to do… Give input, speak for the people and give up the high school games… And the media sucks because all its giving is one side of the issue, and people who subscribe to their brand of politics only listen to that one side (HI foxnet, I mean beliefnet). God forbid everyone gets in a room together and actually discusses things instead of namecalling where they don’t have a chance of a response. I want to find another country to live in cause this one sucks.

  • Tom Degan

    Franklin D. Roosevelt once said of the American Plutocracy, “They hate me and I welcome their hatred.” Obama needs to take a cue from FDR. Instead of trying to “reach out” to the right wing, he needs to understand that they are not his friends; that their political fortunes rest on a single strategy: that his administration is a complete failure. They don’t care a thing for the welfare of the people they are supposed to represent. The only thing that concerns them is the corporate constituency they act as hand maidens for. You would think that after over a year in office the president would have learned this lesson, wouldn’t you? Perhaps he has. We shall see.
    http://www.tomdegan.blogspot.com
    Tom Degan

  • Steve

    It’s amazing how liberals have been duped by the liberal media into believing this garbage. The Republicans have all along offered an alternative to Obamas socialist scam. Their protests and “paper-waving” expresses the concerns of the MAJORITY of Americans, who are becoming smarter, and are tired of being lied to and railroaded by this sham of an administration. The only reason this bill is “right of center” (which is really an illusion) is because the Republicans are standing up and expressing the will of the majority of Americans. Of course, there are those who are not in the majority, such as the author of this far-left propaganda story, who think America should fall to socialism, but that’s not the majority. Liberals need to stop listening to the socialist propaganda, get TRULY informed, and make an educated decision instead of thinking with their loins, their hash-pipes, or whatever it is they think through.

  • Alicia

    Excellent post, Aziz. The Republicans have decided obstructionism is their only route back to power, and they are clinging to that tactic like a bunch of toddlers throwing a tantrum and while clinging to the leg of the only adult in the room.
    The Senate Health Care Reform bill has been judged as more conservative than the one proposed by President Nixon. Yet, the Republicans insist that the Democrats must “throw the whole bill out and start from scratch.” Unbelievably insulting. I believe in many conservative ideas, but the Republican Party is beyond saving. It has to die as it is now before it can be reborn.

  • G.D. Nobody

    Try again, Steve. I welcome your hatred. Try to come up with an argument twice as devastating toward “liberals.”
    I don’t want America to “fall to socialism”. I just want America to go toward a direction away from yours.

  • Kristi

    A well written comment! Truly the GOP does have blood on its hands, in the richest nation in the world people routinely die from lack of health care. No, not emergency care, but long-term health care for problems with heart disease, cancers, etc.
    Having lived in a nation which HAS a national health insurance and service, I can’t remember what its like to live in fear of getting sick, or hoping if I am injured it would be in a car crash so I at least could get some insurance coverage!
    Believe me, a national health service isn’t going to be the sort of cadillac health care these fat GOP Senators are used to, but isn’t it better to have to wait 2 weeks for a routine operation rather suffering without because you can’t get insurance because of some b.s. ‘pre-existing condition’ excuse.
    I would be in favor of the Dems and Obama merely madating the states deal with this issue by 2012 and vote them the funds necessary to get it going.
    That would make it far more difficult for the GOP to block decent health care for poor people in one, swift stab to their hearts.

  • janice x

    Hi: t is a disgrace to see how thes republicans have highjacked the country and the US government and president Obamashould not back down and keep on caing them out!!!!!!!!!!!

  • tnpakrat

    Aziz you need to take your Muslim rhetoric out of our CHRISTIAN yeah you heard right CHRISTIAN nation, and feed it to your own kind. Leave us to worry about our political problems. Just because there is an illegal president with Muslim ties doesn’t mean all you people can start crawling out and spreading your crap around. If you read the entire health care bill, and then truly believe that it is fair to all of us hard working tax paying LEGAL citizens to have to foot the bill for ILLEGALS then perhaps YOU should accompany the rest of the Muslims out of here!!!

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