Principles and politics at odds in health care and budget debates
Ready. Fire. Aim.
Some 42 consecutive misses and they’re still reloading.
The Daily Sentinel put it this way in a Sunday editorial about the implications of holding a federal budget resolution hostage to defunding the Affordable Care Act.
“It allows the Republican Party to take careful aim and shoot itself directly in the foot.” At least it’s a target Republicans can hit.
The slippery slide to the end of the world as we know it, according to GOP members of the U.S. House of Representatives, begins a week from today when enrollment opens for what they derisively term “Obamacare.” The apocalypse is expected three months later, on Jan. 1, 2014, the deadline for actual coverage.
Most of us, I suspect, expect to be around on Jan. 2, 2014. We consign those doomsday expectations to the same round file as similar predictions by various preachers and other predictors of world-ending events.
A wiser mind than mine once noted that the more politicians argue it’s about a principle, the more likely it’s not. Clearly these idle threats to defund the health care law are more about politics than principle, no matter how they’re couched for the umpteenth time as this ongoing game of chicken plays out on Capitol Hill.
As one of our local docs, a past president of the Colorado Medical Society, has written on these pages, the basic idea behind “Obamacare” was first advanced by the conservative Heritage Foundation. Dr. Michael Pramenko has also noted that, more recently, J.D. Kleinke of the conservative American Enterprise Institute had this to say in a New York Times op-ed piece.
“The core drivers of the health care act are market principles formulated by conservative economists, designed to correct structural flaws in our health insurance system — principles originally embraced by Republicans as a market alternative to the Clinton plan in the early 1990s.”
What’s happened since then? Well, elections do have consequences.
A Democrat replaced an unpopular GOP president, and Congress, once controlled by his party became a divided legislative body with the House firmly in Republican control and the Senate the domain of Democrats. Colorado shifted from a red to a purple and finally a blue state with 6 of 9 members of the state’s congressional delegation now Democrats and the GOP searching for someone, anyone, to reverse a two-term run of Democratic governors.
A cynic, and perhaps some others, might say today’s politics now override yesterday’s principles in the health care battle.
Don’t you suppose that Rep. Scott Tipton, if he’d made 42 unsuccessful efforts to market a product in his Cortez pottery business, would switch gears and seek more productive items to push? Yet our own congressman is a reliable vote, on “principle,” to block funding for the Affordable Care Act, despite warnings from Senators in his own party like Tom Coburn of Oklahoma that “it’s not a tactic that we can actually carry out and be successful,”
Tipton and fellow Republicans have also adopted the mantra that Obamacare should be dumped in favor of some undefined “patient-centered” health care plan. Deep down, I suspect our congressman and others are smart enough to know that, just as you can’t beat somebody with nobody, you can’t swap something for nothing.
If this was about principle rather than politics, if there was a genuine concern about the millions of Americans without health insurance who boost the premiums of the insured by using emergency rooms for primary care, if there was a genuine belief that there was a better way, wouldn’t you expect to see some details?
Seems to me that might be a more principled rallying point that just being “the party of ‘No’” and seeing approval ratings of Republicans in Congress in the dumpster.
Bet on this. Efforts to defund the Affordable Care Act will be unsuccessful. Republicans, afraid of the political consequences, will sooner or later blink and the federal government won’t be shut down. Proving, as has the GOP change of heart since the early 1990s, the following:
“You can’t learn too soon that the most useful thing about a principle is that it can always be sacrificed to expediency.” — W. Somerset Maugham.