January 6 2017
Quote of the Day:
The vision of the president calling on his party’s members to—yet again—lay down their political lives for his “signature” law was a reminder of how this disaster began.
--Kimberley Strassel in today's Wall Street Journal
Strassel isn't just taking a walk down nightmare land. She uses the president's plea to preserve ObamaCare to urge Republicans to learn lessons from the debacle that the Democrats seem never to have learned.
Unlike the Democrats and President Obama, Republicans must sell their health care reforms to the public to succeed. And they must accomplish this in the face of relentless blowback from the Democrats and their allies in the mainstream media, which is already claiming that GOP efforts are "a mess."
The media didn't expect the ObamaCare fight to turn out this way--as Strassel points out, only two months ago they were telling Republican lawmakers that President Hillary Clinton would protect ObamaCare. Strassel admits that eight years ago, the GOP was clueless about health-care reform:
But a great deal has changed in that time—in ideas, education and the quality of the GOP caucus. Witness Rep. (and Dr.) Tom Price, the nominee to be the next secretary of health and human services, who offered in Congress his own detailed replacement plan.
Republicans already agree on the general contours of a free-market proposal—one based on tax credits, entitlement reform, freer insurance markets, portable policies and fewer mandates. The internal debates are over scope and details, not approach.
Still, the battle won't be waged solely on the field of policy proposals:
The bigger point is that what might undo Republicans isn’t policy so much as politics. This is where they’d do well to reflect on all that President Obama did wrong. Long before ObamaCare cratered on the merits, it had failed in the court of public opinion—because of both the manner and the means by which it became law. The first test for Republican lawmakers and the Trump administration is whether they prove foolish enough to repeat those obvious mistakes.
Senior Democrats crafted ObamaCare in lobbyist-filled backrooms, forgoing hearings, markups, even input from their own colleagues—much less Republicans. It was an exercise in secrecy and control. Those now calling on the GOP to present a fait accompli “replace” plan, and to ram it through alongside repeal, are advocating essentially the same high-handed approach.
So yes, it’s imperative that Republicans move to implement a replace plan this year, while they still retain maximum political capital. But they should build in time for hearings, debates, modifications. A coalition must be built. The public needs to know that, this time, the job is being done right.
In 2009 Democrats were so convinced of their health-care righteousness, and in such a hurry, that they never bothered to sell their plan to the public.
Meanwhile, Michael Barone has a column on President Obama's trip to Capitol Hill to shore up Democrats to preserve his legacy. Clearly, this is a president who hasn't learned much in the last eight years:
President Barack Obama went up to Capitol Hill on Wednesday to counsel congressional Democrats on how to save Obamacare. Or at least that's how his visit was billed.
But to judge from the responses of some of the Democrats, his advice was typical of the approach he's taken to legislation in his eight years as president -- which is to say disengaged, above the fray, detached from any detailed discussion of how legislation actually works.
He was "very nostalgic," said Louise Slaughter, a veteran of 30 years in the House and the ranking Democrat on the House Rules Committee. But, she added, he left it up to Hill Democrats to come up with a strategy to protect Obamacare.
This is in line with the standoffish relations Obama has had with members of Congress, even with Democrats who are inclined to be and capable of being helpful. Schmoozing with those he gives the impression of regarding as his inferiors has not been his style.
Nor has he ever seemed interested in the content of laws, even his trademark health care legislation. His February 2010 decision to move forward on Obamacare despite the election of Republican Sen. Scott Brown in Massachusetts meant accepting a bill with multiple flaws, many of them glaringly visible after passage.
I love the headline to Barone's column: "Government by Faculty Lounge Subject to Repeal."