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January 24, 2011

Socialists To America: We Won, Get Over It

There's a bit of gloating going on as liberals contemplate what Obama should say in tomorrow's State of the Union speech. Ezra Klien rounds up some of thinking which basically comes down to the idea that liberals won the question about whether government should be providing certain things like pensions and health care and we are only left with fighting over how to pay for them.

The Affordable Care Act doesn't make the government much larger as a share of GDP. Rather, it commits the government to guaranteeing something close to universal health care, even if the relevant transactions occur between individuals and private insurance companies. The reason the GOP talks about "repeal and replace" is that they don't think they can persuade Americans to undo that underlying commitment. If they did, they'd just go for repeal.

...This is the fundamental reality underneath Paul Ryan's Roadmap, for instance, which uses the need for long-term cost control as a justification for eventual privatization (even though the privatization schemes are not how his plan saves money). His Roadmap is the most radical salvo in the big government/small government debate that any politician has launched in some time, but it's framed as an exercise in cost control, and it makes a point to avoid questioning any of the government's underlying commitments.

I think there's some truth to this. The idea of doing away with Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare is simply a fringe position at this point in time. A bill to repeal those programs might get both Pauls voting for it but that's about it.

Remember, after years of railing about Meidcare, the Republicans positioned themselves as its great protectors.

Now the parties flipping positions on Medicare last year was a temporary election ploy. The Democrats needed to pretend to cut Medicare to make their fake savings number to pass health care reform. They'll simply never make those cuts but rather just add money to the deficit to keep things moving along.

So in that regard, Klein is right, conservatives lost that argument, seniors want stuff they think they've paid for and no one has the guts to take it away from them.

That's what makes winning Round 2 of the health care fight so important. We need to pull this fiscal and freedom chocking weed out of the ground, roots and all, before it can really take hold.

Liberals may think they've won the debate about whether or not the government should be guarantying everyone health care from cradle to grave but they did so based on a lie (well several whoppers actually).

Health care reform wasn't sold to the general population as a coverage guarantee plan (that was for the lefty base). Most of the general messaging from Democrats to the middle class was based on cost containment.

Only after the law had passed did Obama let the cat out of the bag.

No -- as I said, I haven't read the entire study. Maybe you have. But -- you know, if -- if you -- if what the reports are true, what they're saying is, is that as a consequence of us getting 30 million additional people health care, at the margins that's going to increase our costs, we knew that. We didn't think that we were going to cover 30 million people for free.

The health care fight now is to convince people that Republicans are right...this is not only something we can't afford to do but shouldn't do. From one of the links above, look at what Republicans said about Medicare before.

Ronald Reagan: “[I]f you don’t [stop Medicare] and I don’t do it, one of these days you and I are going to spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it once was like in America when men were free.” [1961]

George H.W. Bush: Described Medicare in 1964 as “socialized medicine.” [1964]

Barry Goldwater: “Having given our pensioners their medical care in kind, why not food baskets, why not public housing accommodations, why not vacation resorts, why not a ration of cigarettes for those who smoke and of beer for those who drink.” [1964]

Bob Dole: In 1996, while running for the Presidency, Dole openly bragged that he was one of 12 House members who voted against creating Medicare in 1965. “I was there, fighting the fight, voting against Medicare . . . because we knew it wouldn’t work in 1965.” [1965]

I have to say, I like our track record of knowing what will work economically and what won't better than theirs.

We may have to live with only trying to fix liberal fiscal messes like Social Security and Medicare but we can still kill and must kill health care before it's too late.

Of course in the end conservatives will 'win' one way or another. Either we get to do what has to be done or to paraphrase Margret Thatcher, we'll just run out of other people's money and kill them that way.

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posted by DrewM. at 11:02 AM

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