The meme circulating today is that Republicans made a tactical error by failing to cooperate more with Democrats early on in the health care debate, pushing so-called moderate Democrats like Evan Bayh into the arms of Harry Reid and Barack Obama.
That meme is a bunch on nonsense.
As bad as the Senate bill is, it could have been much, much worse but for Republicans holding together.
Does anyone really believe that the public option would have been dropped willingly by Democrats back in June or July merely because Republicans were willing to vote for a smaller bill? Supporters of a public option, which remains in the House bill, are screaming over its removal from the Senate version to this very day.
It also is delusional to think that those hard battles could have been won without Republicans holding together, which allowed Joe Lieberman to succeed in forcing the public option (and substitute Medicare buy-in) out of the Senate bill. If even one Republican had supported a public option, it would be in the bill.
There also was no intention to compromise early on on the part of Democrats. Nancy Pelosi shut Republicans out of the process completely. In the Senate, the negotiations with Olympia Snowe went nowhere over key substantive and ideological points on which Democrats would not bend. Compromise actually meant Republicans acceding to Democratic ideology, which fortunately did not happen.
The rhetoric from the Obama administration also was uncompromising. Remember, Obama originally wanted these bills passed through the House and Senate before the August recess. Every message the White House sent was that Democrats should use their large majorities to just get it done, Republicans be damned.
Obama was willing to sign legislation last August, had it passed, which he later criticized as fundamentally flawed. The willingness of Obama to sign anything which passed through the Congress, so long as it was done quickly, did not signal a willingness to compromise.
Obama also insisted on an all-encompassing restructuring of the health care system in one fell swoop. Passing insurance reforms as a first step, which would have had bipartisan support, was rejected out of hand. It was Obama’s way or the highway, and Republicans responsibly took the highway.
Any conciliatory overtures from Democrats earlier in the process were around the margins only. Republicans were permitted to offer amendments which made no real difference to the thrust of the Democratic versions, every single one of which focused on expanding government spending and bureaucracy.
Equally important was the fact that the Democratic bills, regardless of which version one picks, were monumental disasters waiting to happen, as I have written about almost 200 times in the past several months. I have analyzed, among other things, the unprecedented and possibly unconstitutional individual mandate, the use of the IRS as health care enforcer, the expansion of government bureaucracies, the increase in job-killing taxes, and a host of other fundamental flaws in Democratic proposals.
For Republicans to sign onto this manmade disaster would be to betray our traditions, our constitutional form of government, and individual liberties.
Republicans were right to say “thanks, but no thanks” to being a party to the worst piece of legislation “since the Great Depression.”
Don’t try to pawn this catastrophe off on us by rewriting history to claim that the bill is so horrible only because Republicans refused to play ball. That is pure fiction. The bill would have been worse.
Democrats are about to break the best health care system in the world. The store policy is: “You break it, you own it.”