John Feehery: Speaking Engagements

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The GOP Health Alternative Suddenly Seems More Appealing to Blue Dogs

Posted on November 3, 2009
The Alternative Now Looks A lot More Attractive

One question that all the reporters are asking: what long-term impact will this election have?

Does it mean that President Obama will be a one-termer? Does it mean that the Republicans will storm back into the majority next year?

Will it keep the globe from getting warmer (or cooler)?

Ok, that last one was a joke, but this election can’t be very funny for the Blue Dog Democrats.

They see Republicans sweeping New Jersey and Virginia, they see a conservative third party candidate bullying his way to a Congressional seat, and they have to wonder about their own political futures.

All of sudden, the Republicans seems just a bit more reasonable in their approach to health care. The Pelosi plan? Well, not so much.

Republicans will introduce a health care plan that will do one thing that the Democrat plan won’t do. It will lower premiums for most who currently have health insurance. The Democrat plan will increase premiums.

And, oh by the way, that is the one thing that most people are concerned about, the ever increasing costs of premiums.

Democrats will make a big deal about the lack of a provision on pre-existing conditions. Of course, they are talking about the lack of an individual mandate, which is the most unpopular part of the Pelosi plan.

The Republican plan does have two provisions that take a crack at the pre-existing conditions problem. They create Universal Access Programs that expand and reform high-risk pools and reinsurance programs to guarantee that all Americans, regardless of pre-existing conditions or past illnesses, have access to affordable care – while lowering costs for all Americans. And they prohibit insurance companies from unjustly canceling a policy that already is in effect. Not the perfect solution, but better than what the Democrats have proposed.

And let us not forget what the Democrats have proposed. The CBO is going to come out with a new estimate about the cost of the Pelosi plan and it is staggering, north of 1.3 trillion dollars. They have proposed close to 800 billion in new taxes, and the rest they make up with cuts in Medicare. According to some estimates, the Pelosi plan will cost five and half million jobs. That’s a lot of jobs, especially in an economy that can’t afford to lose one more job.

The Pelosi plan had some big momentum last week. Most experts were telling me that the Blue Dogs were going to roll over and let the Speaker pet their collective stomachs.

Some of these Blue Dogs might still find the Speaker’s plan to be attractive. More power to them. In the aftermath of this election, they would be taking an unnecessary political risk should they decide to vote for it.

My guess is that the new Republican alternative, the one that actually lowers premiums, doesn’t cost jobs, doesn’t raise taxes and doesn’t cut Medicare, will start looking a lot better than it did just 24 hours ago.

Nothing clarifies the political mind more than the specter of facing a mass of angry voters in one year.