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March 24, 2010

Cornyn's Stupid Statement: We'll Kinda-Sorta Repeal Some of ObamaCare, Maybe

The actual quote. He's claiming he was misquoted, in fairness, but I kinda don't believe him.

In the wake of the passage of health care reform, nearly the entire slate of Republican senatorial candidates seems ready to run on a repeal of the bill. But now, the lawmaker overseeing their election strategy is softening the message. Rather than promising to scrap the bill in its entirety, the GOP will pledge to just get rid of the more controversial parts…

“There is non-controversial stuff here like the preexisting conditions exclusion and those sorts of things,” the Texas Republican said. “Now we are not interested in repealing that. And that is frankly a distraction.”

What the GOP will work to repeal, Cornyn explained, are provisions that result in “tax increases on middle class families,” language that forced “an increase in the premium costs for people who have insurance now” and the “cuts to Medicare” included in the legislation…


To defend parts of Cornyn's statement (before I get into attacking it): The GOP position -- a consensus position, frequently repeated -- has been that the party favors reform of some kind, particularly in the places Cornyn mentions, but that we oppose Obama's manner of implementing this reform. We can hardly drop that claim now and say "No, we want things just the way they are."

That is not nearly a majority position, and I doubt it's even close to a majority position in the caucus.

Paul Ryan suggested, for example, that those with pre-existing conditions could be covered in some sort of "well-funded" state-level high risk pool. Now, he didn't say how such pools would become "well-funded" (or, to be accurate, I never heard or read him stating how they'd become well-funded), but there is really only one possibility I can think of: A surtax on all insurance policies to be paid into the pool to subsidize high-risk cases and make their premiums ballpark affordable. So even Paul Ryan doesn't seem to be claiming that there can never be a subsidy for such people, and the idea of a subsidy implies a subsidisor.

Stuff like this can't easily be walked back, even if we'd like to walk it back. It's not good politics to claim now, basically, "Oh, we were just lying about favoring some legislative solution to handle such cases for purposes of political positioning." The GOP's agenda for repeal will have to include some alternative plan, smaller in ambition and cost and infringement of freedom, but if we're to believe the polls at all (and we certainly have been citing them an awful lot lately), the public does not want the status quo; they only want the status quo when that is contrasted with Obama's plan of "reform." Versus a hypothetical plan which makes some key reforms without being so tax-hiking and freedom-retarding and job-killing, they prefer that over the status quo.

Now, as to why Cornyn must retract and heavily modify his statement, here's Allah:

“Without perhaps realizing it,” writes Ramesh Ponnuru, “Cornyn has come out for tinkering at the edges of Obamacare.” Indeed. I shudder to think what the tea party reaction will be to third-party candidacies now, but the political consequences here are less alarming than the policy consequences. Does Cornyn … not understand that the preexisting conditions exemption will also drive up premiums? If insurers can’t refuse to cover high-risk clients, that risk will need to be spread.

What Obama and the Democrats are counting on is complacency and acceptance of the new regime. This has been their goal throughout the process, and it has been their assumption that the American public will accept whatever socialistic agenda is pushed upon them. That the public may yell about a policy, but when push comes to shove, they are apathetic and sheep-like and will meekly accept the new status quo because it's too difficult to overturn it.

And, in fact, to a large extent, they're right about that. It will take serious agitation and serious advocacy to keep the public on our side and get them to reject their impulse to just take it and just go with the flow and just not rock the boat. Statements like Cornyn's are basically preemptive surrenders to this impulse, and signal to the public that the time for opposing ObamaCare is over, and now it's just time to do a little fixin'.

Not only is that bad for America, but that will lead to electoral disaster: There will be blood as Tea Party candidates rise up to denounce both parties, deeming the GOP's cowardly acceptance of the unacceptable to be unacceptable. And even guys like me, who constantly urge unity in this fight, will have to admit that the GOP's simply not worth voting for, and there is little difference between the parties, and that if we're going to lose anyway on policy and freedom and capitalism we might as well lose with a party willing to stand up and argue for our beliefs.

ObamaCare must be repealed. We can talk about starting the process over at that point, and which reforms we'd like to see, but the goal must be repeal first.

Health care has been a wedge issue for the Democrats, splitting progressives from moderates. If the GOP does not unite behind the cause of repeal and keep the majority (or at least a near-majority) of the public in the repeal-and-start-over camp, it will quickly become an even worse wedge issue for us, as moderates and the less-ideological follow the lead of surrenderists like Cornyn and the conservatives refuse to follow along. It will split the coalition in nearly half.

That can't be permitted. America can't take that.

Cornyn may be thinking it's politically more workable to try to cadge the conservatives into his meek attitude of groveling acceptance, and then, having convinced them to lie back and enjoy it, to try to recruit moderates who find they just want to move on.

It's not. His thinking is flawed; conservatives will never accept that. So his only politically-sound move is to try to keep the moderates on board with repeal. And it should, in fact, be easier to keep someone believing their previously-believed position than convincing conservatives to accept what they have never before accepted and can never accept.

And if we fail? Well, then we fail. But we're sure the hell not going to agree to surrender without a fight first.

More to Come If We Accept This: As I've said a hundred times, Obama's strategy was based upon the idea that it's easier to beg forgiveness than secure permission. That if you want to do something the public doesn't want, it's far easier to just stick them in the eye and do whatever you want and then get them to accept the fait accompli than it is to secure consent beforehand.

We can't permit Obama's strategy to be vindicated. Because he's not going to stop with health care -- he's got more "reforms" in store for his Socialistic States of America.

It used to be said that amnesty was too unpopular for even the Democrats to touch. But we have learned that the unpopularity of a bill no longer represents any bar to them. They have become unmoored from any need to answer to the people until 2010, and they believe they will game the system to insure their victory in 2010 and beyond.

However, amnesty could be opposed even in this Congress if (and again, that’s a big “if” with Lindsey Graham in the Senate) they can get forty-one votes in the Senate against it. At this point, there is at least a chance that all of the Republicans (and perhaps even Joe Lieberman?) might hang tough on that because they now they finally see the seriousness of the situation and the threat to them and all they stand for.

You might say well, what about reconciliation or the nuclear option for the Democrats to use in passing amnesty even if forty-one Republicans are against it? The nuclear option (changing the rules so that sixty votes are not needed for cloture) is only possible at the start of a Congressional session (look for it to happen, by the way, if the Republicans don’t gain control of the next Senate—and perhaps even if they do). So it could not be used until the Congress that begins after the 2010 election. As far as reconciliation goes—every bill can’t be passed through that route. It was available for HCR only because the Senate had already approved a version of the bill prior to Scott Brown’s victory—the House had to pass that version before reconciliation was allowed.

Naturally, since the Democrats are now officially a rogue party, they might start throwing away even those basic rules that remain in Congress.

"Rogue party" -- that is the perfect term. And we must stop the rogue party and not permit them to profit from their criminality.

Fudge: GOP insiders have crafted what they think is good fudge -- they will seek "full repeal" but do so "piece by piece."

There’s “nothing partial” about our repeal push, the senior Senate GOP aide told me, adding: “But it will be articulated piece by piece so our position won’t be misconstrued as walking away from the goals of reform.”

This strategy, the aide continued, “captures the significant angst of the Republican base by calling for repeal, while insulating Republicans from Democrat attacks by offering an opportunity to showcase alternatives.”

Case in point: Preexisting conditions. If Republicans pledge full repeal, they risk being painted as favoring the insurance industry’s right to discriminate along these lines.

Solution: “Republicans will work to repeal the mandates forced on individuals and small businesses and replace it with market based solutions and high risk pools so that nobody will be denied coverage on the basis of pre-existing conditions,” the aide says.

The strategy seems born of recognition that Republicans have a potential problem on their hands: If the public decides it likes individual provisions of the bill, as polls have suggested they will, how does the GOP satisfy the base’s demand for full repeal without looking bent on taking those provisions away from people?

I don't have much of a problem with that formulation -- as I said, reform along capitalist, market-based lines should be a goal, and must be goal -- but I fear it's a "Check is in the mail" dodge.


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posted by Ace at 01:47 PM

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