Skip to comments.Should Republicans Have Compromised to Produce a Less-Bad Healthcare Bill?
Posted on 01/03/2010 8:55:36 PM PST by Delacon
Writing for Forbes, Bruce Bartlett puts forth an interesting hypothesis that healthcare legislation could have been made better (hopefully he meant to write less destructive) if the GOP had been willing to compromise with Democrats:
Democrats desperately wanted a bipartisan bill and would have given a lot to get a few Republicans on board. This undoubtedly would have led to enactment of a better health bill than the one we are likely to get. But Republicans never put forward an alternative health proposal. Instead, they took the position that our current health system is perfect just as it is.
Bruce makes several compelling points in the article, especially when he notes that it will be virtually impossible to repeal a bad bill after 2010 or 2012, but there are good reasons to disagree with his analysis. First, he is wrong in stating that Republicans were united against any compromise. Several GOP senators spent months trying to negotiate something less objectionable, but those discussions were futile. Also, Im not sure its correct to assert Republicans took a the current system is perfect position. They may not have offered a full alternative (they did have a few good reforms such as allowing the purchase of insurance across state lines), but their main message was that the Democrats were going to make the current system worse. Strikes me as a perfectly reasonable position, one that I imagine Bruce shares.
Lets explore Bruces core hypothesis: Would compromise have generated a better bill? Its possible, to be sure, but there are also several reasons why that approach may have backfired:
1. Its not clear a policy of compromise would have produced a less-objectionable bill. Would Senate Democrats have made more concessions to Grassley and Snowe rather than Lieberman and Nelson (much less whether the concessions would have been good policy)? And even if Reid made some significant (and positive) concessions, is there any reason to think those reforms would have survived a conference committee with the House? Yet the compromising Republicans probably would have felt invested in the process and obliged to support the final bill even if the conference committee produced something worse than the original Senate Democrat proposal.
2. A take-no-prisoners strategy may be high risk, but it can produce high rewards. In the early 1990s, the Republicans took a no-compromise position when fighting Bill Clintons health plan (aka, Hillarycare), and that strategy was ultimately successful. We still dont know the final result of this battle (much less how events would have transpired with a different strategy), but if the long-term goal is to minimize government expansion, a no-compromise approach is perfectly reasonable.
3. A principled opposition to government-run healthcare will help win other fights. The Democrats ultimately may win the healthcare battle, but the leadership will have been forced to spend lots of time and energy, and also use up lots of political chits. Does anyone now think they can pass a climate change bill? The answer, almost certainly, is no.
4. A principled approach can be good politics, which can eventually lead to good policy. Democrats wanted a few Republicans on board in part to help give them political cover. The aura of bipartisanship would have given Democrats a good talking point for the 2010 elections (My opponent is being unreasonable since even X Republicans also supported the legislation). That fig leaf does not exist now, which makes it more likely that Democrats will pay a heavy price during the midterm elections. It is impossible to know whether 2010 will be a 1994-style rout or whether the newly-elected Republicans will quickly morph into Bush-style big-government conservatives (who often do more damage to liberty than Democrats), but at least there is a reasonable likelihood of more pro-liberty lawmakers.
When all is said and done, Bruces strategy is not necessarily wrong, but it does guarantee defeat. Government gets bigger and freedom diminishes. For reasons of principle and practicality, Republicans should do the right thing.
There is still time and effort to be applied to kill this pig!
Let the Dems choke on their own bill!
A thousand times no!
Ahhhhh ... Rip Van Winkle, here. Sorry to post off topic, but ... I’ve been napping. Does anyone know what happened to FreeDominion?
NO! Bush number 1 learned what happens when you
compromise with democrats.
The Pubbies did exactly the right thing.
This whole fiasco now rightly belongs to
the democrats and may they curse the day
they voted for it.
Not just no, but hell no!
Oh hell no!.
How about CATO compromise by kissing my arse.
Anyone who thinks that the Dems would have actually compromised on anything apparently hasn’t been paying attention the last thirty years. They say one thing vote on a bill, gut in committee with the house, and then do what they want anyway. There is no compromise with those who are treasonous
Republicans should never compromise. Compromise is condescension, or in basic English surrender.
Good God, this is NOT about healthcare, it’s about control, no wonder we’re lost in the wilderness...
What a load!
The Republicans had alternative bills...they were not considered.
Joining the rats would have given the ruling party someone other than Mr. Bush to blame?
Let em live or die with this bill. When people start paying MORE for healthcare that can only be compared to the VA, or county hospitals, all the good intentions in the world won’t save em.
The short answer is NO! But how would they be able to when the democrat majority wouldn’t even let them in on the debate?
There is no compromise on this issue. Any more than compromising with the terrorists. Both issues bring the same conclusion, death.
I think the point is that elected republicans have been comprimising like a drunk whore at a convention of Clinton impersonators.
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