A reprint from 2012 from Neil’s archives
Repealing Obamacare legislation is no winning ticket for Republicans
If President Barack Obama never passes another piece of legislation, he will go down in the history books as the president who brought universal health care to the American people.
For more than a century, Democratic presidents like Roosevelt, Kennedy and Johnson had been trying for universal health care. They all failed until Obama found a way to reshape the country’s social welfare system. Obama delivered the goods and he delivered change to believe in.
This change will bring health insurance to 32 million Americans who now don’t have it. And that’s just the beginning: Starting this year, insurers are forbidden from placing lifetime dollar limits on policies, denying coverage to children because of pre-existing conditions and cancelling policies because someone gets sick. In 2014, insurers will be forbidden from denying coverage to people with medical problems or charging them more.
Not a single Republican voted for this health bill. The party of “No” has fought the legislation every step of the way. (It is fighting in the Senate as of press time.) The Grand Old Party has cozied up to the yahoos in the Tea Party movement to derail health care, if not now, then at election time.
Still, there is the odd conservative voice that rejects this knee-jerk opposition to health care or anything else that Obama tries to do. (Senator John McCain boasts that the Republicans will not support Obama on anything for the rest of this year.)
One conservative voice that I have a lot of time for is David Brooks, a columnist for the New York Times. Brooks is informed, balanced and knows that if the Tea Partiers take over the Republican Party, then the party is done. It is telling that in the runup to the November elections, the Tea Party is trying to back right-wingers who will try to knock off moderate Republicans. It they succeed, the GOP will become nothing but a Neanderthal rump.
Another conservative voice that I respect is that of our own David Frum, who lives in Washington. Frum is one of the very few on the right who think the Republicans all-out opposition to Obama’s health care bill has been a disaster. Instead of working with the Democrats for a bi-partisan bill, the Republicans decided to bring down the whole house of cards. They almost succeeded.
The Grand Old Party has cozied up to the yahoos in the Tea Party movement.
David Frum tries to explain the Republicans’ hysterical opposition to one of the great pieces of social legislation in American history: “There were leaders who would have liked to deal with Obama. But they were trapped. Conservative talkers on Fox and on talk radio had whipped the Republican voting base into such a frenzy that deal-making was rendered impossible. How do you negotiate with somebody who wants to murder your grandmother?”
Yet the Republicans, egged on by the Tea Party, are determined to keep on fighting. They say they will make repeal of health care the centrepiece of their campaign for the off-year elections and argue the new health law is so unpopular that they will take back control of Congress.
It’s true that the party in power almost always loses seats in the off-year elections. And there is no doubt the Democrats will take a drop in the House of Representatives.
It would be a shame if Nancy Pelosi, the best speaker in American history, lost her majority. The chances of Republicans taking over the Senate is pretty much nil. Still, I hope the GOP goes all out against Obamacare this fall. I hope they promise to repeal it. How many votes would they get if they promised to repeal the law’s lower prescription drug prices? Would they argue that pre-existing conditions should prevent one from getting insurance? Would they try to bar children from using their parent’s insurance coverage? Would they repeal a cap on medical expenses? I don’t think repealing the health bill is a winning ticket for the Republicans. And when some of these health “goodies” kick in, I predict support for Obamacare will grow right across the country.
But suppose the Republicans won back both houses of Congress in November and proceeded to repeal the bill. Would Obama sign the repeal or veto it? Not much doubt there.
After a short break for the holidays, I hope the Obama administration will turn to tighter regulations on the financial industry. Then we can all watch the Republicans defend the bankers, investment dealers and hedge funds, the very people who got us into the financial mess in the first place.
Some of the pundits, especially on Fox, are predicting that Obama will be a one-term president. They also predicted his comprehensive health care would not pass. The Fox-bomb throwers will probably be as wrong on the first prediction as they were on the second.
The New York Times featured two stories on the priestly sex abuse scandal exploding across the Catholic world. For the first time, the sex scandal is beginning to envelop Pope Benedict himself. What did he know and when did he know it? A priest in Wisconsin, Lawrence Murphy, sexually abused upward of 200 boys at a school for the deaf. Catholic Church authorities in Milwaukee, including Archbishop Rembert Weakland, wrote to Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who was in charge of dealing with abuse cases. Ratzinger did not respond.
Finally, canonical charges were brought against Murphy. He then wrote to Ratzinger, asking to be spared. Suddenly all action against him was halted. This scandal is the biggest crisis in the Church since the Reformation. Will the pope be able to lead the Church out of this quagmire? And if he cannot, will he resign? The jury is still out.