The Party of (Less Than) Zilch

House GOP’s health care plan is heavy on politics, light on policy.

US Speaker of the House John Boehner (C)R-OH, House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (L)R-CA and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor R-VA speak to the press after having lunch with President Barack Obama on Feburary 9, 2011 at the White House in Washington, DC. AFP PHOTO / Tim Sloan (Photo credit should read TIM SLOAN/AFP/Getty Images)
National Journal
Nov. 21, 2013, 6:10 a.m.

You’re work­ing two jobs and have no health in­sur­ance, or are un­der­insured, or you worry about friends and fam­ily without cov­er­age. Here’s some news for you: Re­pub­lic­ans in charge of the House have an ag­gress­ive, mul­ti­part health care plan.

Trouble is, their plan won’t help you. It uses you. Heavy on polit­ics and ex­tra-light on policy, The New York Times re­ports on GOP ef­forts today:

WASH­ING­TON — The memo dis­trib­uted to House Re­pub­lic­ans this week was con­cise and blunt, list­ing talk­ing points and march­ing or­ders: “Be­cause of Obama­care, I Lost My In­sur­ance.” “Obama­care In­creases Health Care Costs.” “The Ex­changes May Not Be Se­cure, Put­ting Per­son­al In­form­a­tion at Risk.” “Con­tin­ue Col­lect­ing Con­stitu­ent Stor­ies.”

“The doc­u­ment, the product of a series of closed-door strategy ses­sions that began in mid-Oc­to­ber, is part of an in­creas­ingly or­gan­ized Re­pub­lic­an at­tack on the Af­ford­able Care Act, Pres­id­ent Obama’s sig­na­ture le­gis­lat­ive ini­ti­at­ive. Re­pub­lic­an strategists say that over the next sev­er­al months, they in­tend to keep Demo­crats on their heels through a mul­tilayered, se­quenced as­sault.”

“The idea is to gath­er stor­ies of people af­fected by the health care law — through so­cial me­dia, let­ters from con­stitu­ents, or meet­ings dur­ing vis­its back home — and use them to open a line of at­tack, keep it go­ing un­til it enters the pub­lic dis­course and forces a re­sponse, then quickly pivot to the next top­ic.”

The story by Jonath­an Weis­man and Sheryl Gay Stol­berg con­tains no men­tion of a uni­fied GOP plan to help Amer­ic­ans se­cure af­ford­able health in­sur­ance, be­cause there is no such plan. After op­pos­ing Pres­id­ent Obama’s le­gis­la­tion that bor­rowed free-mar­ket ideas from Re­pub­lic­ans (he turned away lib­er­als’ calls for a single-pay­er sys­tem), the GOP’s only ser­i­ous solu­tion to the na­tion’s health care crisis is de­feat­ing the Af­ford­able Care Act. If you ask Re­pub­lic­ans about their plan, they’ll point to a web­site of warmed-over ideas and re­fuse to ac­know­ledge that Obama­care is, in fact, a GOP idea.

What party lead­ers failed to real­ize is that Obama might kill the ACA on his own with in­ept man­age­ment and de­cept­ive com­mu­nic­a­tions, a pos­sib­il­ity raised by many ob­serv­ers be­fore the Oct. 1 launch (in­clud­ing me here). Rather than get out of Obama’s path of self-de­struc­tion and fo­cus en­ergy on cre­at­ing and pro­mot­ing a pos­it­ive, for­ward-look­ing health care agenda, the GOP has chosen to ce­ment its repu­ta­tion as the ob­struc­tion­ist party.

The New York Times story re­veals the com­ing lines of at­tack: an­ec­dot­al il­lus­tra­tions of rate shock and people los­ing ac­cess to doc­tors. These are ser­i­ous is­sues, and I could think of oth­ers. For one, how do you con­vince young Amer­ic­ans to buy health in­sur­ance when they’re already adrift eco­nom­ic­ally? But be­cause of the GOP’s nar­row-minded fo­cus on zero-sum-gain polit­ics, only one party seems to be try­ing to help you. In a broad­er con­text, I wrote this week that Re­pub­lic­ans are be­com­ing “The Party of Zilch.” True or not, that’s the mes­sage their lead­ers are send­ing.

What We're Following See More »
REPLACEMENT TO BE ANNOUNCED NEXT WEEK
Zinke Resigns
10 hours ago
THE LATEST
FOR IMPROPER SPENDING, INFLUENCE
Trump Inauguration Spending Now Under Investigation
2 days ago
THE LATEST

"Federal prosecutors in Manhattan are investigating whether President Trump’s 2017 inaugural committee misspent some of the record $107 million it raised from donations, people familiar with the matter said. The criminal probe by the Manhattan U.S. attorney’s office, which is in its early stages, also is examining whether some of the committee’s top donors gave money in exchange for access to the incoming Trump administration, policy concessions or to influence official administration positions."

Source:
PINS KHASHOGGI KILLING ON MBS
Senate Moves to End Support for Saudi War
2 days ago
WHY WE CARE
FACES UP TO FIVE YEARS
Butina Pleads Guilty to Conspiracy
2 days ago
THE LATEST

"Alleged Russian spy Maria Butina pleaded guilty in federal court Thursday for conspiracy to act as an illegal foreign agent in the United States. Butina, 30, was accused of working to infiltrate Republican political circles through groups such as the National Rifle Association to bolster Russian interests." She admitted to acting "under direction of" Alexander Torshin. "She faces a maximum of five years in prison and will likely be deported after serving any time."

Source:
HIS LAWYERS ASKED FOR LENIENCY
Cohen Sentenced to 36 Months in Prison
3 days ago
THE LATEST
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login