by Rossputin | 6:28 am, February 25, 2010 | Comments Off
For about six hours today, Republicans will sit down with Barack Obama and representivatives of the administration as Democrats try to fool the public into supporting the shoving of ObamaCare down our throats. It’s a meeting fraught with peril for Republicans who’d better have well practiced their debating skills.
Although the meeting is superficially “balanced” in terms of head count, its structure isn’t: With each aspect of the proposed legislation, the Administration makes the introduction and thus frames the debate.
Connie Hair reported yesterday who the Republican Senate participants will be: Mitch McConnell (Ky.), Jon Kyl (Ariz.), Lamar Alexander (Tenn.), Chuck Grassley (Iowa), Mike Enzi (Wyo.) and the Senate’s only two medical doctors, Sens. Tom Coburn, M.D. (Okla.) and John Barrasso, M.D. (Wyo.).
Interestingly, John McCain will also participate. Connie’s take on McCain’s participation is clear, describing him as “the senator with the most experience consorting with liberal Democrats in order to create disastrous legislation.”
I think they added McCain thinking that since he’s viewed as Mr. Bipartisan, his strong opposition will give weight to the argument that there’s simply nothing in the bill that can be agreed to. And I think that McCain will stand up strongly against ObamaCare, in large part because he’s facing a primary challenge from his right in the form of former Congressman J.D. Hayworth.
When I mentioned this to Connie, she predicted that McCain’s opposition will be written off by the media as sour grapes from losing the election. That’s certainly true, but as long as McConnell knows that McCain will give no ground, I don’t have the idea of having him in the conversation as much as Connie does.
At the time I’m writing this (midday Wednesday), it isn’t yet known who will participate from the House Republicans. One has to hope that Paul Ryan will be there…
There is a lot of political risk for Republicans in taking this meeting (which explains calls by some serious people for Republicans not to participate in this sham meeting.) There will be some Republicans who think that trying to find some area in which they can find a compromise with the Democrats will be a good defense against being characterized as the “Party of No”. That would be an enormous mistake.
As I’ve written (in this article for the American Spectator) the GOP should be proud of being the Party of No when it comes to a government takeover of our health care system. Indeed, some Congressman should be ready to say in the meeting something like “I would ask that you (President Obama or his subordinate) don’t call us the ‘Party of No’. We much prefer the ‘Party of Hell, No!’”.
Opposition to ObamaCare remains near its highs and above 50%. The entire purpose of this meeting from the point of view of the Obama Administration is to get that number below 50%, to get it close to even with its level of support (hanging around 40% in that Rasmussen series). They hope that such a move will give aid and comfort to nervous members of Congress. I don’t think it will, but this is clearly the biggest threat and the one which Republican meeting participants must work to prevent.
They must not play softball, must not let Obama, Biden, and Sibelius get away with selling ObamCare as a deficit-reducing, competition-increasing, tax-cutting free lunch. It is anything but those things, and the public must be made to understood that this plan will destroy one of the most important areas of privacy and liberty, namely a citizen’s relationship with his doctor, and will do so while adding hundreds of billions of dollars of debt on to our children’s backs.
Republicans must also reiterate, to wreck the accusation that Obama will try to make repeatedly, that the GOP has presented many ideas, that they’ve been publicly available for months, that they don’t increase the size or cost of government, and that they’ll improve the health insurance system for most Americans. They should also keep in mind (though not say) that the vast majority of Americans care about cost and quality of the health care system…and NOT about universal coverage.
One political reporter suggested that Obama is looking for “one Republican idea he can grab on to” in order to create an image of bipartisanship. Republicans must not fall into that trap. Covering a poisonous apple with chocolate won’t change the ultimate effect when you take a bite of it.
It should be some interesting political theater. It poses great risk to the nation and probably greater risk to the Republicans than to the Democrats. But it does pose real risk to them, including to Barack Obama. Obama has stayed out of the discussion until now. If he very publicly stakes his political capital on this and then cannot pass anything, his feverish drive for socialized medicine could indeed become, as Senator Jim DeMint suggested, Obama’s Waterloo. Let’s hope so.
In this gave of extremely high political stakes, Republican participants just need to remember one thing:
Not just no, but Hell, No!
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