John Feehery: Speaking Engagements


A Health Care Strategy for GOP

Posted on July 21, 2009



            The headline of the Washington Post wasn’t particularly helpful, in my opinion,  “GOP Focuses Effort to Kill Health Bills”, the headline blared.


            But is that the right goal for Republicans?  Killing health care reform and keeping the issue alive for another election cycle?


            I agree that the current plans being offered by House Democrats and the Senate HELP Committee are complete disasters.  They should be scrapped, and new legislation should be introduced by the Senate Finance Committee and then pushed by Republicans.


            While the liberal bills are bad, Republicans shouldn’t kid themselves.  Democrats are going to pass something this year.  The choice for the GOP is whether they want to be part of the discussion or if they want to left outside the room.


            It is a tough call.  After all, the stimulus bill was constructed only by liberal Democrats, and it has turned out to a political albatross around the necks of moderate Democrats.  It hasn’t worked, it is pork infested, and it has automatically eliminated the fiscally responsible label from the Democratic Party.


            Now, some Republicans, like Senator Jim Demint, thinks we can tar the Democrats with the same labels with the Health care bills coming from the Obama Administration.


            But here is a counter-thought. 


            The goal should be passage of an incremental health care bill that doesn’t include a public option, but does contain tough cost control provisions and does not spare the insurance companies from tough mandates.


            Such a bill could actually do some good for the American people.  It could take the issue, which doesn’t work well for Republicans (especially if you take a look at issue-handling polls) off the table for the next election.  Such a bill will also deflate the Democratic base, a liberal base that thinks government-run health care is the only real solution and that thinks that even a public-option is too weak. 


            Such a bill would get majority support in both chambers.  It would not cost the Treasury more than a trillion dollars.  It wouldn’t require job-killing tax increases.  It would beat up on the insurance companies (who deserve it, by the way).  It would give small businesses a chance to pool together in associations to get health care across state lines. 


            The Republicans may think they are in a strong position, because the bills that have thus far been put forward by liberal Democrats are so bad.  But killing health care reform is not really an option, and shouldn’t be the strategic goal of Congressional Republicans.  Getting an incremental bill that will do some good, that won’t break the bank, that doesn’t include job-killing tax increase and that will deflate the Democratic base should be.