The GOP’s Health Care Waterloo Continues

Written by David Frum on Monday November 8, 2010

With the GOP looking to score political points and unwilling to negotiate or compromise, the Dems' health care law could still be around in two years.

My latest column for looks at the GOP's plans to confront the Democrats' health reform bill.  With Republicans looking to score political points and unwilling to negotiate or compromise though, the health care law could still be around in two years.

I'm going to get personal here. On the day that health care reform passed its final vote in the House, I posted on my blog a comment titled "Waterloo."

I said that the intransigence of Republican leaders had thrown away opportunities to negotiate improvements in the health bill -- and that Republicans now needed to hold accountable those leaders who led conservatism to this utter defeat.

This is what I wrote: "At the beginning of this process we made a strategic decision: unlike, say, Democrats in 2001, when President Bush proposed his first tax cut, we would make no deal with the administration. No negotiations, no compromise, nothing. We were going for all the marbles. This would be Obama's Waterloo -- just as health care was Clinton's in 1994.

"Only, the hardliners overlooked a few key facts: Obama was elected with 53 percent of the vote, not Clinton's 42 percent. The liberal block within the Democratic congressional caucus is bigger and stronger than it was in 1993-94. And of course, the Democrats also remember their history, and also remember the consequences of their 1994 failure.

This time, when we went for all the marbles, we ended with none."

That column cost me my job at a Washington think tank. And now, as Republicans celebrate their biggest congressional victory since 1946, I am getting a lot of e-mail that taunts me: "See how wrong you were?"

To which I say: Enjoy the moment, fellas. You are only at the beginning of the pain of discovering how right I was.

From a conservative point of view, there's a lot not to like about the Democratic health care reform.

I don't like the new taxes to pay for it: a new tax on payrolls and a new tax on investment income. I don't like the new burden on the states, in the form of higher Medicaid spending. I don't like the plan's steps toward price controls instead of price competition.

I could go on.

But all those things I don't like -- they are all the law of the land. To correct them will require action by the House, Senate, and president.

That's tough at any time, tougher when Republicans announce that they have no intention to compromise on anything. No compromise means no deals.

So instead, Republicans will fall back upon a Plan B, basically a series of stunts.

They'll schedule a vote to repeal the "cuts" in Medicare under health care reform. (Not really cuts -- restrictions on future growth.)

They'll refuse to appropriate funds to implement aspects of health care reform.

They'll call hearings to publicize problems with the law and complaints from those negatively affected.

And at the end of two years, the law will still be there, more or less intact.

Click here to read the rest.

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