Monday, September 7, 2009

"Blood Will Have Blood": Republicans and the Health Care Reckoning To Come

I don't meant to be overwrought, but this piece, "No Alternative: An Analysis of the GOP Plan," by Harris Meyer, requires some serious attention. I hope for their sake, the staffs of Sens. Tom Coburn and Jim DeMint--and all those who ally themselves with the libertarian right on health care--come up with some convincing refutations of Meyer's critique. Because they will need them. Not right away, but soon.

For the time being, of course, Republicans are having fun, portraying the Obamacareniks as, at best, distant bureaucrats, and, at worst, as death panelists. And so it's like 1993-4 all over again, as the Democrats put forth a vision of utilitarian politicization and mediocritization--with a creepy undercurrent of euthanasia--that the American people reject.

OK, that Democratic implosion probably takes care of the politics of this year, and probably the next. Obama had his chance to do something popular on health care, and he seems to have blown it. I guess that the same political judgment that brings forth Tim Geithner and Van Jones gave the White House the sense that they could sell the same sort of plan that Bill and Hillary Clinton couldn't sell 16 years ago. One word to describe that sort of thinking is "hubris," but there are others.

The quote in the headline, "blood will have blood," comes from Shakespeare's Macbeth, as the lead character realizes that he is still trapped in the cycle of blood and vengeance that he himself started, by murdering Banquo. Later in the play, Banquo's ghost comes to visit Macbeth--sits at Macbeth's place at the dinner table, in fact. And for Macbeth, it gets worse and worse from there.

I am not suggesting that the Republicans have committed any sort of crime. So in that sense, the image--that's my Photoshopping above--is an imperfect analogy.

Instead, the point is much more benign: Republicans have profited mightily from the Democrats being in charge this year, pushing their own unpopular agenda. If anybody Banquo-ed the Democrats, it was they themselves. And so it hasn't really mattered what the GOP is up to, policy-wise, because Republicans aren't in charge of anything.

But thanks to the Democrats' many miscalculations, the chances are good that the Loyal Opposition will be back in power soon. In which case, when the last are first and the first are last, the health care wheel will turn, and bloodsoaked metaphors may come into vogue. Why? Because regnant Republicans will have to defend their health care plan.

That turnabout is years ahead of us, of course, and there is much more donkey-hunting to be done in the next few years.

But in the meantime, in their non-celebratory moments, GOPers might take a look at Meyer's piece, to see what's in store for them.

There is an alternative for the GOP, of course. It's called the Serious Medicine Strategy.

1 comment:

  1. Meyer's critique may only be serious if you take tax credits in isolation, keeping the tax code as it is. If you decouple insurance from employment, have insurance across state lines, and expand HSAs, the problems Meyers identify will only be problematic for rich people accustomed to taxpayer subsidized insurance. That might be politically difficult, but it's not disastrous.