Bipartisanship, Health Care Reform & The Benefits Of Compromise

By Justin Gardner | Related entries in Democrats, Health Care, Partisan Nonsense, Republicans

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.

As always, thanks for reading and I welcome your thoughts.


This entry was posted on Saturday, September 19th, 2009 and is filed under Democrats, Health Care, Partisan Nonsense, Republicans. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

12 Responses to “Bipartisanship, Health Care Reform & The Benefits Of Compromise”

  1. mw Says:

    I think this is why they invented dueling.

  2. kranky kritter Says:

    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.

    I must have missed thr part where this bill decreased gov’t spending and did not raise taxes.

    This bill is not being supported by Republicans because it is fundamentally counter to the Republican approach. They really want NO part of the “credit” for passing a bill that increases gov’t involvement in healthcare and raises taxes (sometimes called “changing the tax code” if you are reluctant to call a hike a hike, BTW).

    Right or wrong, this is quite plain in their positions.

    You continue to operate from the premise that something must be done, which is why the GOP should find compromise attractive. The GOP does not think that something should be done if that something would, in their view, make things worse. I don’t really agree with this view, and the GOP’s lack of substantive concrete ideas is a bit of a disgrace.

    But I understand and respect their perspective, which is quite defensible. Raising taxes to pay for more government involvement in healthcare might make things worse in many noticeable ways. Further, there doesn’t seem to be any true substantive mechanism to control costs, and that’s the biggest problem.

  3. Justin Gardner Says:

    mw, don’t be so dramatic. :-P

    kranky, you really have to read the Baucus bill. There are many ways to keep costs down and the CBO scored them.

    Moreover, I disagree that this approach is counter to what Republicans believe in. It doesn’t raise taxes on hardly anybody, makes massive cuts in entitlement programs and will reduce the budget deficit.

    My guess is that the Baucus bill will be amended to include some more things Republicans want, but they’ll still all vote against it. Hope I’m wrong.

  4. Jimmy the Dhimmi Says:

    Bipartisanship is racist.

  5. kranky kritter Says:

    I don’t believe that we’ll see “massive” cuts in entitlements. Cosmetic nibbling, perhaps. Their are only a handful of gian entitlement programs, and I don’t think any will see real cuts. The only thing I have heard so far is suggestions to mandate decreases in payouts to providers. I’ll be shocked if that doesn;t just create additional stresses on the system. Not to mention, that isn’t actually a cut to the entitlement part.

    I’m all ears if you can enumerate one or two of these alleged massive cuts to entitlements.

    I might undertake to read all 223 pages of the Baucus bill if I thought it was intelligible. But that’s just too long and I’m just too skeptical.

    I simply don’t believe that this bill has many ways to actually keep costs down. Too familiar with projections cast by civil service employees named Rose E Scenario. You believe the CBO if you want. I’ll wait for explanations on these alleged savings to emerge. If there are good ideas about how to do this, why haven’t we heard them already?

  6. Nick Benjamin Says:

    Number one we’ll save money when sick people go to the primary care doctors rather than ER. It’s difficult to say whether that will save the feds any money, but given that the Feds spend a huge proportion of our health dollars it’s highly unlikely they won’t get some of the savings.

    Number two we’ll save money in Medicare costs. Uninsured folks cost Medicare more when they get into the program because they delay treatment. This way there will be fewer uninsured people. Particularly 64-year-olds, because they are no longer uninsureable with the changes to the individual market.

    Number three we’ll save in Medicare advantage payments. We’re talking 11 or 12 figures here alone.

    That’s just off the top of my head.

  7. Doomed Says:

    The problem with health care reform in this country is that the Democrats believe they have to fix every ILL that ever existed in the health care industry in this country with ONE bill.

    They did this with Immigration and it was shot down by the people… They meaning politicians.

    My problem with Health Care reform as dreamed of by the Democrats is this:

    Never ever in the history of the world has the US government created an entitlement program that has paid for itself. This health care program will end up being exorbitantly expensive and when its all done and said with we will raise taxes to JUST pay for this while NOT doing anything about the deficit.

    So what transpires is the deficits continue to rise….we raise taxes and we still dont fix the deficits.

    NOW we have even more deficits to FIX and even less margins to fix them with because we have already raised taxes. In the end we end up with an overburdened society that will be far less inflexible to economic chaos.

    Health care will bankrupt this nation if its not done right and the way the dems are approaching it…its not going to be done right.

  8. mdgeorge Says:

    Doomed,

    I don’t see how you can extricate the issues from one another. Let’s just end recission. Ok, well if we don’t want to put the insurance companies to go bankrupt, we have to have a mandate, right? Well, that means either forcing people to pay out of pocket (which I’m sure the 20-30yo crowd who are mostly healthy and not paying for insurance currently will love), or providing some kind of subsidy. In a market with all this new demand, and insufficient competition, prices will shoot up (making those subsidies harder to provide, among other problems), so some kind of mechanism is required to increase competition. Thus the exchange and public option.

    How do we fix one piece of this in isolation?

  9. kranky kritter Says:

    #1 Not a documented medicare savings, as you seem to concede. And as we know, there is every reason to believe that people with health coverage will consume MORE healthcare dollars, not fewer.

    #2 OK, your contention is that insuring more people will result in a net savings? Feel free to believe that. I don’t.

    #3 I didn’t even know what that meant. On research, this looks like a good idea. The estimate I found is that it could save 60 to 160 billion over 5 years. The annual savings 12-40 million a year won’t get us close to the finish line, though.

    I previously spent a half hour doing searches and following links trying to find a single specific explained detail about medicare cuts in Baucus’s bill. I could not find one.

    The only accounts I could find previously described decreasing provider payouts. Hopefully that’s unrelated to this bill. Because demanding that providers provide services at rates that make their practices unsustainable won’t solve anything. On looking into the advantage payments, it seems like perhaps there are areas where medicare is overpaying. If that’s really so, that’s worth remedying.

    Notice however that this isn’t really an “entitlement cut” in any real sense, because the notion is that people in the program will get the same service, providers will just be compensated less. To me, “entitlement cut” sounds like the people enjoying the gov’t financed service will be getting less. That’s not the case with this.

  10. Justin Gardner Says:

    Notice however that this isn’t really an “entitlement cut” in any real sense, because the notion is that people in the program will get the same service, providers will just be compensated less. To me, “entitlement cut” sounds like the people enjoying the gov’t financed service will be getting less. That’s not the case with this.

    Jeezus…so cutting money out of Medicare and CHIP aren’t entitlement cuts now?

    I doubt you’ll get any reasonable Republican lawmaker to admit that they want to get rid of people’s health care. They just want to lower the amount we pay. Sames goes for social security.

  11. Doomed Says:

    Democrats version of health care reform is simply a public option that gives everyone health care.

    This is the problem. You guys can argue all you want about saving money, cutting medicare or whatever but the facts are simple.

    Health care reform means health care for all with the democrats and they do not care what it takes to get that in place.

    Without serious overhaul of the system first we are going to just pile more debt on top of more debt. If we create a public option, coops or anything else to do this and then use the wording in almost every bill out there that we the government will fund low incomes up to 4x(four times) the rate of poverty then it become pretty dayum obvious to me that this bill is NOT going to pay for itself.

    Especially when next in line will be the president and a democratic congress legalizing 12-20 million illegals who will all fall under the 4x poverty limit levels.

    No the beginning point of this debate is…HEALTHCARE for all.

    Republicans say reform is good, just healthcare for all is a back breaker.

    Democrats say reform is good but what we really mean is healthcare for all and then figure out how to pay for it.

    The reason the debate is so contentious is that neither side are on the same page.

  12. Doomed Says:

    The ultimate compromise would be a public option as soon as we reform the health care industry and get it in a position where health care for all is affordable to the NATION…the TAXpayer and not just another low income benefits program that this nation cannot afford.

    I just don’t understand. I dont understand how you guys can sit there staring at 787 billion dollar deficit and then want to create another HUGE entitlement program and add more to the debt?

    I know in your wildest dreams you believe the democrats are somehow telling the truth when they craft a bill that supposedly will pay for itself thru all these huge savings.

    Do you really believe competition is going to lower prices in the health care industry? Do you really believe that Hospitals are going to cut salaries for Nurses? Doctors?

    Do you guys really believe this? That by cutting waste from medicare that we are going to have a benefits program that pays for itself?

    An example of where Im coming from.

    When the world seemed to be melting down…Gasoline dropped to 1.38 per gallon for about 2 weeks. Once the Gasoline industry saw the world wasnt going to implode what is the price of gasoline now a days?

    2.30-3.00 per gallon.

    In the midst of 10 percent unemployment. A worldwide recession. Economic hardships the gasoline industry is gouging us.

    Would competition fix this? It is a commodity….GASOLINE…you can have 10 or 1000 gas stations of which we have a million gas stations and dozens of gas retailers and gasoline is still very high in price.

    Health care is a commodity…It is HEALTH…..You can have 10 or 1000 hospitals and your still going to have high prices. No matter how much competition you throw at the health care industry you are going to get the same results we got with falling oil prices.

    Right now their is still a huge demand for OIL so the prices remain high. With health care you are going to increase demand and expect prices to fall?

    Only in our wildest imaginations friends…Only in Political LA LA Land.

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