Friday, August 7, 2009

They’re Lying

The Washington Post‘s Stephen Pearlstein calls out the GOP on the healthcare debate.

The recent attacks by Republican leaders and their ideological fellow-travelers on the effort to reform the health-care system have been so misleading, so disingenuous, that they could only spring from a cynical effort to gain partisan political advantage. By poisoning the political well, they’ve given up any pretense of being the loyal opposition. They’ve become political terrorists, willing to say or do anything to prevent the country from reaching a consensus on one of its most serious domestic problems.

There are lots of valid criticisms that can be made against the health reform plans moving through Congress — I’ve made a few myself. But there is no credible way to look at what has been proposed by the president or any congressional committee and conclude that these will result in a government takeover of the health-care system. That is a flat-out lie whose only purpose is to scare the public and stop political conversation.

The reasons are pretty obvious. The Republicans do not want to reform healthcare because doing so would threaten the monopoly of the insurance companies that control most of the healthcare plans in the country, thereby making them less rich and also make their job of controlling Congress that much harder, and more importantly, it would hand the Democrats and President Obama a victory that would make them that much harder to defeat in elections. The last reason is the one that matters the most.

The lies, distortions, and manufactured protests are cover for the fact that the Republicans have not come up with any ideas of their own for doing anything about the healthcare crisis. (To some, you have to prove there is a crisis in the first place.) And it’s a lot easier to come up with boogedy-boogedy about government take-overs and planned euthanasia than it is to actually figure out how to fix the system, especially when they have recruits for their astroturf campaign who scream about socialized medicine taking over Medicare. The GOP figured out long ago that it’s a lot easier to exploit the stupid then to actually come up with their own ideas.

It’s not the policy that matters to them, it’s the political cost at the polls in November 2010 and 2012 they care about, especially if they see it as a victory for “that one.” If the Democrats have any sense of political acumen, they are storing up clips of all the demonstrators holding up Nazi signs and hanging Congressmen in effigy and then, during the next election cycle, they will come out with a series of ads saying “Here’s the Republican plan for healthcare reform….” So while the Republicans are out their sowing fear and loathing — something they perfected during the Bush administration — their own biggest fear is that healthcare reform will pass and it will work.