Saturday, January 30, 2010

More on Obama and House Republicans

The NY Times prescription blog has a 'fact check' of sorts focusing on their health reform interaction. In the first post they note that the assertion from Rep. Tom Price of Georgia that 'our plan' would cover everyone without raising taxes, etc. is not true. And the President was very effective at making clear the notion that Dr. Price asserted you can cover many more folks and no one has to pay (Dem Senate bill cuts future Medicare and raises taxes to pay for the bill) anything is ridiculous.

The second portion of their fact check notes that President Obama did promise health negotiaions on C-Span and that hadn't happened. The President responded the committee hearings were all televised, but there were many private negotiations, last Spring with insurers, pharma, etc., and in the winter the melding of the final bills....obviously, some private meetings are are impossible to get rid of, but the President did promise that in the campaign. And watching yesterday, public meetings with President Obama representing his positions himself might have been alot more effective than Congress being so front and center (remembering the proviso that a President dropping all the details on Congress and saying pass it a la the Clinton plan didn't work). Using a football analogy since the Super Bowl closes in, if Obama were a running back, he only carried about 12 times a game, and his team and the country would be helped if he did so twice as much.

Taking a step back, I thought the most important and effective thing the President did was to confront the House Republicans with the message that the words and tone they use matter. This is certainly the case for him and the Democrats as well. However, the strident, ideological terms of the debate especially around health care used in opposition to the Democratic reform plans have not matched the reality of the plans. We talked about fictitious death panels for 6 weeks last summer.

Whether you like the Senate bill or not, it is essentially what passed for a moderate Republican plan in 1994. And the biggest change it would have brought about was a more than doubling of the number of Americans who shopped for, and bought their own private health insurance plan. From my perspective as someone who thinks about health policy all the time, and not just when it is politically important, the 'socialist, anti-American' over the top rhetoric from Republicans during the health reform discussions make it hard for me to take them seriously when they say 'give our plans a chance.' It makes them seem to be unserious.

No comments:

Post a Comment