Tuesday, February 16, 2010
Commentators who specialize in handicapping political horse races have been offering wildly different prognostications regarding the fate of Barack Obama's unconscionable effort to extend the institution of slavery to America's sick and the physicians they so desperately need. Michael Barone's rosy assessment is that the House is about 100 votes short of any deal to foist ObamaCare on America. He bases his forecast on the vagaries he imagines a pragmatist Democrat might have to consider on the level of deal-making. Absent some kind of cover, I suspect he would be right.
What kind of cover would it take to cause the Democrats to regain their enthusiasm for comandeering one sixth of the American economy? Moral cover. And Barack Obama suspects that the Republicans will provide them with it, which is why he is calling a sham "bipartisan" summit to "discuss" "healthcare" on the twenty-fifth of this month, although many of his political opponents strongly suspect that he will do so with passage of his act via reconciliation all but a done deal.
In an article titled, "Thump-Thump ... Thump-Thump," New Republic's Jonathan Cohn notes that Obama's gambit of asking for the Republicans to offer a counter-proposal at this "summit" is an attempt to re-frame the debate (or, more accurately, to show that the Republicans have failed to do so):
Republicans want to make this event--and, indeed, this whole debate--a referendum on the Democratic health care reform plan. Obama wants to make this a referendum on what to do about the nation's health care problems, with each party putting forward its ideas. And it looks to me like Obama will get his way.The first sentence is what makes all the rest possible. Since the GOP will not oppose government intervention in the economy on principle, it ceded the moral high ground to Obama long ago. Furthermore, since the GOP does not oppose central planning on principle, its counterproposals are a hash of timid baby steps towards greater freedom in the medical sector and equally timid, half-guilty, statist proposals that differ only in detail from those of the Democrats. Its backbone and imagination are limited by the very premises -- altruism and collectivism -- it shares with the Democrats.
If the Republicans don't post a plan, everybody will see that the GOP isn't serious about health care reform. If the Republicans do post a plan, they'll have to defend it. That might look even worse, given how unpromising their ideas are, although I realize that's a matter of opinion.[bold added]
If ObamaCare does indeed have a pulse, it is because the GOP is keeping it on life support through its own cowardice.