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Should Republicans Have Compromised to Produce a Less-Bad Healthcare Bill?
Cato Institute ^ | January 2, 2010 | Daniel J. Mitchell

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, I’m not sure it’s 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.

Let’s explore Bruce’s core hypothesis: Would compromise have generated a better bill? It’s possible, to be sure, but there are also several reasons why that approach may have backfired:

1. It’s 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 Clinton’s health plan (aka, Hillarycare), and that strategy was ultimately successful. We still don’t 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, Bruce’s 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.


TOPICS: Editorial; Government; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: 111th; bhohealthcare; cato; congress; gop; gophealthcare; healthcare; obamacare; republicans; rlccaucus; rlclibertycaucus
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1 posted on 01/03/2010 8:55:37 PM PST by Delacon
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To: Delacon

No


2 posted on 01/03/2010 8:58:51 PM PST by ThomasThomas (Sometimes I like nuts. That's why I am here.)
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To: Delacon

NOOOOOooooo!!!!!

There is still time and effort to be applied to kill this pig!
Let the Dems choke on their own bill!


3 posted on 01/03/2010 8:59:21 PM PST by G Larry (DNC is comprised of REGRESSIVES!)
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To: Delacon
No
No
No

A thousand times no!

4 posted on 01/03/2010 8:59:48 PM PST by Lakeshark (Thank a member of the US armed forces for their sacrifice)
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To: Delacon

no


5 posted on 01/03/2010 9:00:25 PM PST by visualops (Pray for the USA)
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To: Delacon; informavoracious; larose; RJR_fan; Prospero; Conservative Vermont Vet; ...

No.


6 posted on 01/03/2010 9:01:27 PM PST by narses ('in an odd way this is cheering news!'.)
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To: Delacon

Ahhhhh ... Rip Van Winkle, here. Sorry to post off topic, but ... I’ve been napping. Does anyone know what happened to FreeDominion?


7 posted on 01/03/2010 9:01:31 PM PST by RobinOfKingston (Democrats, the party of evil. Republicans, the party of stupid.)
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To: Delacon

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.


8 posted on 01/03/2010 9:01:40 PM PST by tet68 ( " We would not die in that man's company, that fears his fellowship to die with us...." Henry V.)
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To: visualops

Not just no, but hell no!


9 posted on 01/03/2010 9:01:43 PM PST by umgud (I couldn't understand why the ball kept getting bigger......... then it hit me.)
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To: Delacon

No


10 posted on 01/03/2010 9:01:44 PM PST by Freedom'sWorthIt (Ronald Reagan: If we ever forget that we're one nation under God,then we'll be a nation gone under.")
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To: Delacon

Oh hell no!.
How about CATO compromise by kissing my arse.


11 posted on 01/03/2010 9:02:01 PM PST by cranked
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To: Delacon

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


12 posted on 01/03/2010 9:02:06 PM PST by the long march
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To: Delacon

Republicans should never compromise. Compromise is condescension, or in basic English … surrender.


13 posted on 01/03/2010 9:02:30 PM PST by doc1019 (To call Obama a bumbling idiot would be an insult to bumbling idiots worldwide.)
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To: Delacon

Good God, this is NOT about healthcare, it’s about control, no wonder we’re lost in the wilderness...


14 posted on 01/03/2010 9:03:20 PM PST by brushcop (SFC Sallie, CPL Long, LTHarris, SSG Brown, PVT Simmons KIA OIF lll&V, they died for you, honor them)
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To: Delacon

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.


15 posted on 01/03/2010 9:03:25 PM PST by JohnD9207 (REGISTERED RIGHT WING THUG!)
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To: Delacon

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?


16 posted on 01/03/2010 9:03:41 PM PST by upsdriver
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To: Delacon

There is no compromise on this issue. Any more than compromising with the terrorists. Both issues bring the same conclusion, death.


17 posted on 01/03/2010 9:04:04 PM PST by notpoliticallycorewrecked (According to the MSM, I'm a fringe sitting, pajama wearing Freeper)
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To: visualops

HELL NO!!!


18 posted on 01/03/2010 9:05:56 PM PST by ExTexasRedhead (Clean the RAT/RINO Sewer in 2010 and 2012)
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To: the long march

I think the point is that elected republicans have been comprimising like a drunk whore at a convention of Clinton impersonators.


19 posted on 01/03/2010 9:06:34 PM PST by Delacon ("The urge to save humanity is almost always a false front for the urge to rule." H. L. Mencken)
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To: Delacon
"Should Republicans Have Compromised to Produce a Less-Bad Healthcare Bill?"

Compromising in any way with what the left has become is total, political suicide for conservatives.

The truth is, liberals don't want you to compromise, they are looking for "partners in crime" - someone to share the blame when their ideas fail miserably, as they usually do.

If conservatives want to win, and keep their seats, they'd better adapt a "my way or the highway" stance when it comes to the liberals...liberals will use you up and spit you out...no matter how great they smile.

Also, liberals have made no bones in the past 50 years that if a conservative proposed it, or is for it, they are against it, doing what it takes to defile the idea, the bill, the law, or the author.

Liberals need to see nothing but a stone wall until they no longer exist.
20 posted on 01/03/2010 9:07:15 PM PST by FrankR (POWER FROM THE PEOPLE = POWER TO THE PEOPLE.)
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To: Delacon

Hell no.


21 posted on 01/03/2010 9:07:23 PM PST by dr_who
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To: rabscuttle385; Delacon

Compromise ??? LOL

Yep, improve the bill so democrats can take credit for it, brilliant!


22 posted on 01/03/2010 9:08:02 PM PST by sickoflibs ( "It's not the taxes, the redistribution is spending you demand stupid")
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To: Delacon

No way no how. Democrats’ definition of “compromise” is throwing a meaningless bone to the republicans and leaving all sorts of ridiculous loopholes they can close later after they’ve either cut the republicans out entirely or put in even worse provisions.

Nope, we can accomplish far more by being united against this turkey. Compromising only then gives the dems an excuse to run on the “but they did it too” mantra.


23 posted on 01/03/2010 9:08:15 PM PST by BuckyKat
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To: Delacon
Absolutely not! The trouble with any compromise is that any defect becomes the fault of Republicans.

Consider electricity "deregulation" in California. Most of problems occurred because Democrats refused to go through with deregulation useless certain concessions were made. Republicans compromised, and when those concessions screwed things up, Republicans were bashed.

The only thing Republicans should ever offer as a "compromise" is direct universal (for all) subsidies for what ever hair-brained scheme the Democrats offer. At least then we'd all know just how stupidly expensive the Democrat plan would be.

24 posted on 01/03/2010 9:08:21 PM PST by GeorgeSaden
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To: Delacon

Certainly not.


25 posted on 01/03/2010 9:08:27 PM PST by HANG THE EXPENSE (Life is tough.It's tougher when you're stupid.)
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To: Delacon
NO NO A THOUSAND TIMES NO. That was Bob Doles problem when he was minority leader in the senate...his philosophy, was ok but not quite as much as you wanted......Democrats took little steps at a time to get where we are.....NO COMPRIMISE...
26 posted on 01/03/2010 9:08:50 PM PST by goat granny
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To: Delacon

There should be NO compromise of the Constitution, and the Federal government has NO authority to legislate in the areas of health care, including Medicare and Medicaid. The pubbies are right to oppose this travesty.

It’s time to take back the country.


27 posted on 01/03/2010 9:11:01 PM PST by PubliusMM (RKBA; a matter of fact, not opinion. 01-20-2013: Change we can look forward to.)
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To: Delacon

No only NO, but... WELL NO!!!


28 posted on 01/03/2010 9:11:07 PM PST by SierraWasp (AARP is guilty of Elder Abuse by endorsing a law that eliminates Medicare Advantaqe plans!!!)
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To: RobinOfKingston

Nothing seems to be wrong with FD to me....


29 posted on 01/03/2010 9:12:09 PM PST by goodnesswins (Become a Precinct Committee Person/Officer....in the GOP...or do NOT complain.)
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To: Delacon

No!
This is just a back door way to blame Republicans for a bill that is 100% the Democrats doing.

Why help them in that disinformation campaign?
Is the author trying to help them blame Republicans for that stinking pile of you-know-what bill?


30 posted on 01/03/2010 9:12:48 PM PST by Lorianne
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To: Delacon

No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no.

And other than that, NO!!!

There is no reasoned government takeover of health care.


31 posted on 01/03/2010 9:13:02 PM PST by DoughtyOne (Good news. HC bill will not cover illegal aliens. Bad news. 20-35 million will be made citizens.)
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To: goodnesswins

FD? Federal Destruction?


32 posted on 01/03/2010 9:14:04 PM PST by Delacon ("The urge to save humanity is almost always a false front for the urge to rule." H. L. Mencken)
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To: Delacon

I read Barlett’s article. He’s just a flat-out liar, and I resent Cato’s measured examination of it. The GOP was shoved out the discussion from beginning to end, and this rat knows it.


33 posted on 01/03/2010 9:14:36 PM PST by Mamzelle (Who is Kenneth Gladney? (Don't forget to bring your cameras))
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To: DoughtyOne

So you are against it?


34 posted on 01/03/2010 9:14:54 PM PST by Delacon ("The urge to save humanity is almost always a false front for the urge to rule." H. L. Mencken)
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To: Delacon

That is one word I’ve gotten really sick of...”compromise.”


35 posted on 01/03/2010 9:15:41 PM PST by swatbuznik
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To: Liz

I wonder how Barlett measures on the Soros meter? What do you want to bet that he’s Soros’ b@tch?


36 posted on 01/03/2010 9:15:51 PM PST by Mamzelle (Who is Kenneth Gladney? (Don't forget to bring your cameras))
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To: Delacon
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.

4a. Each Republican collaborating with the Democrats allows one additional Democrat in a swing district to vote against it, thus making it less likely that district will be taken by the Republicans. The Democrats had the votes and didn't need any Republican help. They just wanted political cover for some Democrats.

37 posted on 01/03/2010 9:15:56 PM PST by KarlInOhio (Gore is the fifth horseman of the apocalypse. He rides an icy horse bringing cold wherever he goes.)
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To: cranked

Oh hell no!.
How about CATO compromise by kissing my arse.


Agreed. Not the left cheek, not the right cheek, but a compromise in the middle.


38 posted on 01/03/2010 9:17:39 PM PST by Psalm 144 (What did you think NEW WORLD ORDER meant? The Constitution? States' rights? Individual liberty?)
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To: Delacon

;-)

Some people can read War and Peace and come away learning nothing. Others can read a bubble-gum wrapper and come away with the secrets to the universe. Superman, Lex Luthor (paraphrased - Gene Hackman) Great line...


39 posted on 01/03/2010 9:17:59 PM PST by DoughtyOne (Good news. HC bill will not cover illegal aliens. Bad news. 20-35 million will be made citizens.)
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To: Delacon

Looks like *NO* is the popular and CORRECT answer.


40 posted on 01/03/2010 9:19:49 PM PST by azishot (HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!)
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To: Delacon

I don’t need to read anything but the title.

Here’s the proper question....should the democrats have compromised in order to try to win over a few of the republicans?

Why doesn’t the question get asked like that?


41 posted on 01/03/2010 9:20:32 PM PST by mamelukesabre (Veni, Vidi, Vicki: "I came, I saw, and I'm like, Omigod!")
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To: Delacon

HELL NO!!!!!!


42 posted on 01/03/2010 9:21:27 PM PST by dalereed
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To: Delacon; Jim Robinson; Grampa Dave; tubebender; hedgetrimmer; forester; AuntB; Carry_Okie; ...
I get so weary of this political expediency crappola... it's fatiguing to any good American to see this constant cry for CONgressional capitulation to the darkside (Democrat side)!!!

I'm disappointed in the CATO Institute for lending ANY credibility to something we all should spurn with constant conservative certitude!!!

This constant incremental capitulation to evil in the pursuit of expediency is how we've regressed from the priceless principles of our ansestors and founders!!!

If we keep this crappola up, we'll NEVER get our country back from the clutches of hazardous moral STAGnation!!!

43 posted on 01/03/2010 9:24:01 PM PST by SierraWasp (AARP is guilty of Elder Abuse by endorsing a law that eliminates Medicare Advantaqe plans!!!)
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To: Delacon

The bills they ended up with represented the least each house would accept. There would have been no way to compromise any more from them and all it would have done would have been to give them the cover of ‘bipartisanship’.

The Republicans played it exactly correct. Nothing they could have gotten for the cover their participation would provided would have been worth it.


44 posted on 01/03/2010 9:24:45 PM PST by jwparkerjr
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To: Delacon

No because this bill, ugly and bloated as it is, is still only a Trojan Horse for the US version of the NHS. Even principled objectors to Obamacare tend to forget that.


45 posted on 01/03/2010 9:25:15 PM PST by relictele
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To: Delacon

The answer should be “NO!” Because the Republicans - in contrast to the incurably immature Dimocrat/Liberals - are mature enough to say “NO!” There should be absolutely no “health care” bill at the Federal level. Should be left to the states.


46 posted on 01/03/2010 9:26:12 PM PST by DennisR (Look around - God gives countless, indisputable, unambiguous clues that He does, indeed, exist.)
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To: KarlInOhio

You are letting Pubs off too easy. The fact is that many Pubs bought into the “gov’t is the best solution” idea. It started with Bush, was forwarded by McCain, and seriously, is being excepted by the GOP.


47 posted on 01/03/2010 9:26:55 PM PST by Delacon ("The urge to save humanity is almost always a false front for the urge to rule." H. L. Mencken)
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To: Delacon

Free Dominion


48 posted on 01/03/2010 9:28:41 PM PST by goodnesswins (Become a Precinct Committee Person/Officer....in the GOP...or do NOT complain.)
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To: Delacon
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.

Unadulterated BS. The Reps offered several bills including H.R.3400 - Empowering Patients First Act and the Tom Coburn/Paul Ryan bill.

49 posted on 01/03/2010 9:30:50 PM PST by kabar
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To: cranked
Oh hell no!. How about CATO compromise by kissing my arse.

Hey, CATO agrees that Republicans shouldn't compromise. That was the message of the article.

50 posted on 01/03/2010 9:30:52 PM PST by GeorgeSaden
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