Powered by Blogger

Monday, March 22, 2010

Political fallout

My friend Suzanne sent me this excellent column from the NY Times that covers some of the political fallout (or lack of it) that might be expected from the healthcare bill. Although a recent poll showed 45% of Americans oppose the bill, I'm convinced that once the average American actually hears what this legislation does (and mostly doesn't do) a lot fewer people are going to be buying what these nutjobs have been selling. I would go so far as to say that legislators were ahead of the people in this case, as with desegregation - you can't always go by polls when deciding how to govern on important issues.

. . . Republicans also face the question of what happens if the health care bill does not create the cataclysm that they warned of during the many months of debate. Closing out the floor debate on Sunday night, the House Republican leader, Representative John A. Boehner of Ohio, warned that the legislation would be “the last straw for the American people.” Representative Marsha Blackburn, Republican of Tennessee, proclaimed several hours earlier, “Freedom dies a little bit today.”

Yet there are elements of the bill, particularly in regulating insurers, that could well prove broadly popular, and it could be years before anyone knows whether the legislation will have big effects on health care quality and the nation’s fiscal condition. Indeed, most Americans with insurance are unlikely to see any immediate change in their coverage, and several Republicans warned that the party could pay a price for that.

When our core group discover that this thing is not as catastrophic as advertised, they are going to be less energized than they are right now,” Mr. Frum said. He warned that the energy Republicans were finding now among base voters would fade.

The head of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey, offered a similar argument. “When this bill goes into effect, and none of the things Republicans warned about begin to happen — none of the death panels, none of the government takeover, none of the socialism — Republicans will have no credibility,” Mr. Menendez said.

. . .

Senator Lamar Alexander, Republican of Tennessee said Democrats would soon find themselves saddled with blame by Americans whenever they ran into a problem with an insurance company, even though Democrats have made a point of criticizing the insurance industry in the debate and asserting that without legislation the nation faced never-ending increases in premiums that would make health coverage less and less affordable.

“Insurance premiums are going to go up normally, and millions of Americans are going to experience higher premiums,” Mr. Alexander said. “All this is going to be coming, and the health care bill is going to get blamed for a lot of it.”

But Mr. Menendez said that he was advising Democratic Senate candidates to challenge opponents about whether they would vote to repeal the bill — particularly, an expansion of prescription drug benefits for the elderly or requirements that insurance companies not deny coverage based on pre-existing conditions.

“We will challenge them,” he said. “What parts of this bill do you want to repeal?”



Post a Comment

<< Home