Sunday, November 23, 2008

Why The GOP Can't Support Obama's Health Care Reform

Most progressives expect the GOP, especially its conservative wing, to give stiff opposition to any Democratic health care plan. Indeed, Republicans have been promising (threatening) more of the same obstructionism that has so turned off the nation in two election cycles. They are clinging to the hope that if Congress and the new president fail to accomplish the goals they set out to, and thus fail to keep their campaign promises to the public, voters will get so disgusted at them that they will turn back to the Republicans. They've more or less bragged that this is their strategy for regaining control.

Now, Huffington Post writer, Nicholas Graham, reports on just how scared some in the Republican Party are about Democratic reforms, especially about successful health care reform. To make his case, he uses this extensive quote from James Pethokoukis, at U.S. News:
1) Passage would be a political gamechanger. Recently, I stumbled across this analysis of how nationalized healthcare in Great Britain affected the political environment there. As Norman Markowitz in Political Affairs, a journal of "Marxist thought," puts it: "After the Labor Party established the National Health Service after World War II, supposedly conservative workers and low-income people under religious and other influences who tended to support the Conservatives were much more likely to vote for the Labor Party when health care, social welfare, education and pro-working class policies were enacted by labor-supported governments."

Passing Obamacare would be like performing exactly the opposite function of turning people into investors. Whereas the Investor Class is more conservative than the rest of America, creating the Obamacare Class would pull America to the left. Michael Cannon of the Cato Institute, who first found that wonderful Markowitz quote, puts it succinctly in a recent blog post: "Blocking Obama's health plan is key to the GOP's survival."
Basically, Paul Krugman, New York Times columnist and Nobel winning economist, made the same point in his recent book, The Conscience of a Liberal. According to Krugman, conservatives will fight tooth and nail to prevent a national health care system because if the government is successful at implementing a program that delivers universal health care, it will give lie to the conservative argument that "government is the problem not the solution."

We actually know, for a number of reasons, the market is not the solution to every social problem, though it does a very good job at delivering consumer goods, which is what it was designed for. But if the government takes over a service that is basically bankrupting large corporations (one of the reasons that manufacturing and other businesses are no longer competitive in the global market is that we are one of the few first world nations that doesn't have government aid in health care delivery) and does it successfully, it discredits the philosophy of the Ronald Reagans, Grover Norquists, Alan Greenspans, Milton Friedmans, Martin Feldsteins, and the whole host of supply siders who insisted that governments were stupid and markets were omniscient.

So, look for tooth and claw resistance to any health care plan put forth by the Democrats. The Republicans in Congress will once again be putting dogmatic ideology and loyalty to party over pragmatism and the good of the country. Unfortunately, doing so is their only key to survival right now.


The Bee said...

And the republicans still have no clue why they lost, lol. After WWII, when European countries were devastated by the losses of infrastructure and basic services, the idea of nationally sponsored health care was embraced as a necessity, rather than a luxury. In America, on the other hand, we didn't have those infrastructure problems - in fact, WWII itself helped lift the US out of the Great Depression. Now, however, the US populace is running scared at the way the economy is sinking like the Titanic. People are worried, and I think finally starting to realize that the old republicanisms of "free market will save us all" is, frankly, bullpucky. Finally, the old lies of supply and demand regarding the health sector just don't hold true. Free Market may be run by humans ultimately, but it is an emotionally and intellectually dead megalomaniac, and just don't tend to care whether real people live or die, as long as the shareholders are happy.

Great post, btw.

spotter said...

Excellent points.

Health care is a critical issue. It is literally bankrupting corporations and many middle class individuals, including insured individuals, who have the bad luck to get seriously ill. The employer-based system is simply not working, and will not work without the major changes that the Democrats have proposed.

This needs to be the first priority. Our economic survival depends on it. No matter how fast health care reform is enacted, it is already too late for many hard-working people who are losing their houses, college, and retirement funds simply because they got sick.

Once again, the Republicans are on the wrong side of history.