Was I Too Harsh?

By Greg Scandlen

My last post was pretty critical of the House Republicans in their debate over repealing ObamaCare. Was I too mean to them? Not at all. My skepticism about Republicans and health care is well-earned. Most of the leadership of the Republican Party over the past twenty years has been perfectly willing to discard free markets when it suits them.

I am reading George W. Bush’s book, “Decision Points.”  On page 46, he writes, “… I stood with Senators Pete Domenici and Ted Kennedy and signed a bill mandating that insurance companies cover treatment for people with mental illness.” Why did he do this? Because he once had a business partner, Rusty Rose, who had clinical depression. So, it didn’t matter a whit that signing this bill made coverage more expensive for working people, and increased the number of people who couldn’t afford to be covered at all. Good ol’ rich Rusty needed mental health services, so why not make those working stiffs pay for it?

In June of 2008, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and prospective candidate for the Republican nomination for president, said it was “fundamentally immoral” for anyone making over $75,000 a year to be uninsured. He was all for an individual mandate. Gingrich has also been a big proponent of government-mandated health information technology.

The front-runner for the Republican nomination, Mitt Romney, of course was the person who signed the Massachusetts mandate into law, and he defends it to this day. Granted he tries to wiggle out of any comparison of his plan and Obama’s plan, but really the only difference is that one is state and the other is federal. The workings of the two are otherwise identical, to the point that Romney’s point man on his plan, Jon Kingsdale, has written, “We should all feel very proud of having created the model for national health reform. The power of the Bay State’s example is enormously consequential. I believe that national reform would not have happened without it.”

Former Republican Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist is “is urging House Republicans to drop their effort to repeal the health care law,” according to NPR. He went on to wax euphoric over it, saying its elements “need to be preserved, need to be cuddled, need to be snuggled, need to be promoted and need to be implemented… I mean, what came out of Washington, D.C., the vision, the construct, the policy, is beautiful on paper…”

Bob Dole urged Republicans to help pass ObamaCare in October 2009, saying “This is one of the most important measures members of Congress will vote on in their lifetimes if we don’t do it this year I don’t know when we’re gonna do it.” This is the man Republicans chose as their standard bearer in 1996.

These have been the leaders of the Republican Party — former President, former presidential nominee, former speaker of the House, former Senate majority leader, and front-runner for the nomination in 2012.  All could care less about free markets in health care. All want Washington (or Boston) to dictate the health care system.

Fortunately, they are all former office holders. These are the people who destroyed the Republican brand after Ronald Reagan left office. They are the reason Republicans had lower approval ratings than even the Democrats in Congress.

Fortunately there is a new generation now in office. One example is Paul Ryan, who did exactly what needs to be done yesterday. See this short video of his statement during the debate.

These guys have one opportunity – just one – to show the country they have some principles and some spine.

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6 Responses

  1. Well said!

  2. […] JANUARY 20!  From Real Health Reform: Our Money, Our Health, Our Choice! Greg Scandlen asks Was I Too Harsh? “Not at all. My skepticism about Republicans and health care is well-earned. Most of the […]

  3. […] not, is the chief political vehicle for undoing the law and replacing it with something better. As Greg Scandlen, a long-time participant in the area of health care policy, points to several leading Republicans, […]

  4. You are absolutely right to be skeptical, Greg. If GWB had proposed the new health law, past leaders of the Republicans would have falllen in line (including Mitch McConnell). Have they – has Gingrich – learned their lesson yet?

  5. […] not, is the chief political vehicle for undoing the law and replacing it with something better. As Greg Scandlen, a long-time participant in the area of health care policy, points to several leading Republicans, […]

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