Yinfo logo

Check out the Y Info channel on DTV 12.3, Comcast 258, FiOS 473
This 24/7 news and information channel features a thought-provoking lineup of regional, national and global programs, including BBC World News, Charlie Rose, Washington Week, Keystone Chronicles and Foreign Exchange. More information »


 




Zeal and repeal

Thursday, November 4th, 2010



Quelle surprise! Here was John Boehner yesterday, divining a nonexistent mandate:

“The American people were concerned about the government takeover of health care. I think it’s important for us to lay the groundwork before we begin to repeal this monstrosity…We have to do everything we can to repeal this bill.”

And here was Boehner lieutenant Eric Cantor on midterm election night:

“So I believe that when we take majority in January, I hope that we’re able to put a repeal bill on the floor right away because that’s what the American people want.”

In a way, you have to admire our future House leaders. They don’t let empirical facts intrude on their determination to do what they want. It’s a hard-wired Republican trait, actually; George W. Bush drew 544,000 fewer popular votes than Al Gore in the 2000 presidential race, yet Bush’s strategists interpreted the results as a mandate anyway and Bush governed accordingly.

That’s now how the Democrats go about their business. If the Democrats wanted to repeal a major law, and realized that the public felt otherwise, they would dump the idea and cower in their beds. Republicans, by contrast, construct their own reality and defend it with disciplined zeal.

For what it’s worth, here’s a window on empirical reality: There is no ” mandate” for repealing health care reform. For starters, the pro-repeal position couldn’t even pull a majority of voters in the midterm exit polls – and this was the most conservative midterm electorate ever recorded by exit pollsters. Forty-eight percent said yes to repeal, but 47 percent wanted to expand health reform, or leave the new law just as it is.

In fact, the health care issue wasn’t even a priority; only 18 percent of all midterm voters listed it as their top concern, and 55 percent of those voters favored the Democratic congressional candidates anyway.

The split on repeal, as evidenced in the exit polls, roughly mirrors what most surveys have reported all year. An Associated Press poll found a 50-50 split in October; last summer, a Bloomberg News poll said that 61 percent opposed repeal, preferring instead to leave health reform alone or at least see how it would work. But the most instructive finding showed up two months ago, in a CBS-New York Times survey: Forty percent said they favored repeal – but when pollsters mentioned that repeal would allow insurance companies to resume their old practice of denying coverage to people with pre-existing health infirmities, support for repeal plunged to 19 percent.

(Care to guess why these poll respondents had no idea that health reform bars insurance companies from behaving that way? Because the Democrats were too terrified to tout the best features of reform, having lost the narrative back in the summer of ’09 to the visceral conservative lies about “death panels.” And President Obama was instrumental in losing control of the narrative. Here’s one infintesimal slice of an answer that he gave about health reform, on TV, in July ’09: “…Now, what we did very early on was say two-thirds of the costs of health care reform, which includes providing coverage for people who don’t have it, making it more affordable for folks who do, and making sure that we’re, over the long term, creating the kinds of systems where prevention and wellness and information technologies make the system more efficient. That the entire cost of that has to be paid for and it has got to be deficit-neutral. And we identified two-thirds of those costs to be paid for by tax dollars that are already being spent right now. So taxpayers are already putting this money into the kitty. The problem is, they’re not getting a good deal for the money they’re spending. That takes care of about two-thirds of the cost…”)

Anyway. In fairness to Boehner and Cantor, they have little choice but to paint the midterms as a mandate for repeal – because they can already feel the hot breath of the tea-partiers in their necks…starting with the tea-partiers’ enablers on the inside, notably Jim DeMint in the Senate and Mike Pence in the House (Pence already sees himself as presidential material), and the celebrity talkers on the outside, notably Sarah Palin, who appeared the other day on Laura Ingraham’s radio show to say “Repeal the whole thing.”

The general public clearly favors a more, shall we say, nuanced approach to health reform, and would be pleased if all sides could reach a modicum of cooperation, on many fronts, in the new divided government. Zealotry would intrude on that best-case scenario; a health reform repeal battle, and an Obama veto, would be a destructive distraction. In the months ahead it will be Boehner’s burden to keep the zealots from running wild. Good luck with that.


62 Comments

  • Tom - wilmington, de says:

    Anyone who did an honest review of what caused the recession and “economic collapse” would realize that it was not the sole fault of Wall Street and Big Business, nor was it the fault of GOP policies. All one needs to do is see how Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac continue to lose money, how the Federal government now “owns” 90% of all mortgages, how the Fed monetizing our debt could lead to runaway inflation, weakening of the dollar, and further economic distress and they will realize that the current policies could also lead to economic disaster. Even Barney Frank has admitted his failure to back reform of Fannie/Freddie by the GOP was in error, and he missed the pending collapse.

    • Steve says:

      Agreed Tom. It was a combination of issues. Wall Street may have poured gasoline on the fire, but it was government policies and federal reserve policy that set the fire to begin with. And both Republican and Democratic leadership should share the blame. No one likes to pour cold water on run-ups in assets because so many people are benefiting from it on the way up.

    • portly says:

      Keep it up Tom, Christine OD will be looking for a running mate in 2012!

  • Tom - wilmington, de says:

    Lost in the election results is the fact that the GOP took over 680 state legislative seats, a record. The GOP now controls the legislative branch in 26 states, and even won seats in Maine and New Hampshire (I thought a New England Republican was extinct after 2008). Meanwhile, the Democrat party is now all but non-existent in the South and Midwest. This election was really a reversal of policy by the people, yet Obama still believes his policies had no impact on the results. Portly, you are in a bubble world. Liberals make up only 20% of the electorate, yet you believe people want liberal policies, which time and again are proven to be ineffective.

    • Steve says:

      Don’t forget though Tom, according to Dick Pohlman this wasn’t a historical election. This is just a typical ho-hum change of hands due to a down economy. How laughable is that!

    • portly says:

      Lost in the fever-swamp of Tom’s brain is the fact that Dems did not come out to vote. We’re still here, believe me (i voted). Exit polls show that this typical mid-term brought out the old white vote, one of the sectors the right loves to bait with fear. Constantly. Poll after poll, pundit after pundit say that this election was NOT a vote FOR Repiblicons, but a vote against Dems. Most of those voting were Republican voters. So who’s in bubble world? It’s clear to us, beleive me.

  • JimR says:

    Smike ..”but the name calling destroy’s your credibility.” What’s happening? – Did you fall on your way to Damascus?

    • Still Independent says:

      That’s experience talking ….

      • swedesboromike says:

        Hey Still, Where have you been hiding? And as for your snarky comment I rarely do the name calling schtick. when every post begins with ” wingnut ” I think you have to admit it is pretty ridiculous.

        • portly says:

          i’m a Left Wingnut and proud of it!! Don’t get yer panties in a twist, swede…Wingnut is hardly an epithet. i know yer tougher skinned than that.

  • Still Independent says:

    tom: the “Obama’s India trip is costing $200M a day” item you posted the other day had, shockingly (as I predicted), no basis in reality. Didn’t seem right that his trip could cost more per day than the war in Afghanistan …… http://factcheck.org/2010/11/ask-factcheck-trip-to-mumbai/

    • Rich says:

      Oh, no! Tom got caught lying AGAIN! I’m SHOCKED! SHOCKED! and LOL…

      • Still Independent says:

        Rich: I wasn’t accusing Tom of lying. It WAS reported by a couple of reputable news sources, as well as several less-than-reputable ones (Drudge, Rush, etc.) I did question the source – an anonymous mid-level Indian official speaking to an Indian newspaper – used in the reporting. I would ask Tom to use the same critical, skeptical, untrusting analysis he applies to anything pro-Democratic before posting things that are not.

    • swedesboromike says:

      Still, from the fact check article you sited, ………………….”.Matt Lehrich, White House Office of Media Affairs: The numbers reported in this article have no basis in reality. Due to security concerns, we are unable to outline details associated with security procedures and costs, but it’s safe to say these numbers are wildly inflated.”……………………… So my question would be why would the cost of the trip be a ” security issue”? Revealing hotel rooms, routes, those type of things are ” security issues”. I don’t doubt that the number is inflated but renting the entire Taj Mahal Hotel can’t be very cheap either. So what is the cost? That question remains. The money however “small” could be better used to address the deficit.

  • Still Independent says:

    swedesboromike: two things. First, if limits in future growth of Medicare (ala the healthcare bill) may be characterized as “cuts”, then prevention of a future rise in income tax rates could also be called a “cut”. Second, and more importantly, the following sentence by you is, at a a minimum, extremely hypocritical – “carefull how you refer to people who do not suscribe to your political view”

    • swedesboromike says:

      Still- Like I said before, the debate is about wether to keep our tax rates the same. But now you’re trying to tell us that prevention of tax increases is a tax cut? In what fantasy world is that? No taxpaying American is going to buy that argument, and you shouldn’t be selling it.

      • landscape says:

        Mike So no one listened to all of the campaign ads saying exactly that? The people who paid for the ads are not stupid.

    • swedesboromike says:

      Also, Medicare and social security are programs with rising costs. Both programs should never been started in the first place as my theory is to let people keep their wages in life so when they get older they can provide for themselves. I said to scrap the healthcare bill and impliment free market ideas to lower costs and to harness the charitable spirit of the American people and open free of charge hospitals for those with no means to buy an insurance policy. We have to remember that what got lost in all this is the deliniation between healthcare and piece of paper called an insurance policy. I thought the plan I outlined earlier in the blog was very good.

      • landscape says:

        Mike In an ideal world your theory could work. But in the real world and in a compassionate country it will not. There are a great many people who are incapable, for numerous reasons, of “keeping their wages in life”. We as a people have chosen to take care of those who cannot.

  • yobill626 says:

    Smike: Per your 10:41AM comment: I am aware that the highest number of individuals getting tax breaks are middle class, but a large chunk of the dollars in those tax cuts are earned by those making in excess of $250K. Obama & most Dems are all-in with extending the tax cuts for those under $250K with the ‘Pubs wanting everyone to get them. Both sides have reasons for this, but if the ‘Pubs are the ones screaming the loudest about the deficit, then somewhere along the line they have to get on-board with letting those tax cuts go away — or show definitive savings somewhere else.

    • Still Independent says:

      yobill: while I am against raising anyone’s taxes in this economy (yet acknowledging that all the Bush tax cuts need to eventually expire if we are to close the budget deficit), I think they’ll settle in on a higher number, like $400k or so. To sell it, tax cuts for the “wealthy” needs to more clearly be wealthy.

  • Logathis says:

    Mike Pence for president? Ha! The man couldn’t orate or debate his way out of a wet paper bag. Although he’s Cicero compared to Sarah Palin…Well this election guaranteed at least 2 years of political hilarity. Six when it comes to flat-earthers like Rand Paul. The GOP is only making Obama’s reelection even easier. Keep up the good work guys!

    • yobill626 says:

      Don’t underestimate Rand Paul. I think he’s going to be in the Senate for some time — especially if he can avoid the “debates on point” that he likes to get in to (which is a fault of Obama’s as well). His dad certainly has set the standard for a long career by carving a out a few positions $ sticking to them. I’m OK with Pence as well. He does his job for his Party. I agree, Sarah Palin makes me gag.

      • Rich says:

        Yobill, usually I agree with you, but not on Rand Paul. Anybody who wants to do away with Medicare except for the part that pays his fees pretty much makes me want to puke. He’s a total hypocrite imbecile, and good luck to Boehner keeping that idiot in line!

  • puttinonthefoil says:

    There is consensus that the old healthcare status quo was not acceptable. I know it really pumps up the base to rally around repeal, but if Republicans offer no alternative ideas, then what’s the point?

    The vote, as Polman’s poll points it, is a statement about the economy. Every attack ad was about jobs. It is therefore utterly amazing to me that the first thing we are hearing about is healthcare. The Republicans are making the same mistake Obama made. Man what dummies we have for politicians.

    Let me just add that like schnail, I fundamentally believe that basic human health should not be a commodity. I, however, do also believe that Obama made a mistake by spending political capital reforming it in the middle of the worst economic crisis in half a decade. Now is not the time. Similarly, I believe in the overwhelming majority of scientists regarding man-made global warming; neverthless, now is not the time to address this problem, and I think Obama is smart to drop it.

    • Rich says:

      I have to agree – he probably should have put everything into a better stimulus package, one much less dependent on useless tax cuts. But, what’s done is done, and at this point cap & trade will probably have to wait for his second term.

      • yobill626 says:

        When Obama came in to Office, the Economic forecast was already pretty dire, meaning that once we avoided a Depression, the Recession we did have was going to stay around for some time. Of course, the predictions I remember said we’d be coming out of it by the Summer. Last I checked, I’ve been wearing coats to work for a few weeks & we are still at almost 10% unemployment…

  • NE Philly says:

    When you run on repealing healthcare as the right wing of the GOP did and you win the election you have to try. Obviously the House doesn’t have the power to do it by themselves, but they could ‘nip and tuck’ the HCR by not funding parts of it, etc. They House GOP should pass a bill to cut all federal spending in every department 2% this year and 2% next year, not specifics cuts, but everything. That is simple enough even the uneducated American people who voted in and won this election could understand. You know that elections do have consequences:)

    • Rich says:

      If the House tries to defund health care, the Senate will put the funds back in the bill. If it makes it through the conference committee with the defunding still there, Obama will veto it. There is NO WAY the wingnuts can defund, much less repeal health care. I did like your observation, though, that it was the uneducated American voters that produced the results of this election. True dat!

      • swedesboromike says:

        Rich- carefull how you refer to people who do not suscribe to your political view

        • Rich says:

          I didn’t refer to them that way, NEPhilly did. All I did was agree with him. Though I reserve the right to refer to people who disagree with as I see fit, subject to the rules of civility here (which have resulted in a big improvement, incidentally, in the tone of the the general discourse, IMO).

        • Rich says:

          P. S. Looking back at my post, I guess maybe you object to the “wingnut” label. That was meant to refer to people like DeMint, McConnell, and Pence, and I assure you it is an accurate label for such creatures.

        • swedesboromike says:

          Rich, they are not ” creatures’ they are US Senators. You do what you what but the name calling destroy’s your credibility.

        • Rich says:

          Geez, Mike, we’re all creatures – some are just more toxic than others.

  • Cutter McCool says:

    The GOP is caught been a rock and a hard place: their base (the Tea Party) won’t tolerate any compromise with Obama, and is threatening to throw them out of office if they do compromise. But independents want compromise or they’ll swing back to the Democrats as they did in 2006 & 2008. “Damned if you do, damned if you don’t” is not a solid strategy to win in the presidential year in 2012.

    Also if they compromise (fat chance of that) Obama will have those bipartisan achievements (in job creation, for e.g.) to run on in 2012. And if they don’t compromise (which is the limited strategy that got them were they are and doesn’t, therefore, seem like they’ll abandon) Obama will be able to point at them and say: this is what we achieved before they arrived (a lot) and this is what we achieved after their arrival (a lot of nothing). Do you still want them in Congress?

    Again, “Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.”

    • swedesboromike says:

      Cutter- You are reading way too much into this. The electorate understands we need to cut spending, we need our economy to produce private sector jobs. As for the healthcare bill there are some really good common sense things we can do to save the country a trillion and replace it with the right ideas. And that’s what the Republicans will try to do. I think that’s a fair and reasonable position. Elections have consequences. Or at least that’s what Obama and Pelosi told us in 2008.

      • Cutter McCool says:

        You’re right–elections do have consequences. Obama will now have to get bills past not just a filibustering Senate but a Republican House as well. Another consequence is, as above, the Republicans are now stuck in a catch-22 they can’t escape from. Good luck with that. See: http://www.slate.com/id/2273694/

        • swedesboromike says:

          Cutter- these arguments cut both ways. The Slate article is a little misleading as no one is getting a tax cut. We will either get an increase or the tax code will stay the same. In my view the mandate is to stop spending.

  • portly says:

    Wow…wingnuts on parade! Like the mindless “leaders” of the current GOP, they try mightily to establish what DP is quite correctly calling their alternate reality. It’s what the GOP does…it’s what they’re so good at. The Health Care bill needs repair alright, like negotiation for drug costs and a viable public option, but as one poster pointed out, the American public definitely does NOT want repeal of this law. Another poster’s unabashed defense of Big Pharma, Big Insurance and the Power of the Private Sector is sooo 1980′s. He, like most wingnuts, forget that the country rejected, quite soundly, the politics of Big Business in 2006 and 2008. The unregulated Masters of the Universe in Big Business and on Wall Street caused the economic meltdown we are now struggling to mop up…and yet, ALL the GOPers can offer us is “lower taxes for Big Business!! They’ll save us!!” What hollow drivel that is…Obama and the Dems need to grow a backbone…

  • Paul says:

    We are looking at a protracted battle over health care that the Republicans know the President will veto. This will waste precious time as the country falls further behind in education and jobs, the really important stuff.

    • swedesboromike says:

      Paul- this is not a waste of time to try to save the American taxpayers a trillion dollars. The new Republican house is going to give Obama every chance to cut the spending. It will be up to him to chose to come to the middle or stay on the far left. In an earlier post I outlined what the replacement healthcare bill should look like.

  • John 421 says:

    Tom from Wilmington – 48% is NOT a majority. A majority, by definition, is at least 50%. Look it up in the dictionary.

  • yobill626 says:

    I am happy we got more balance in our government, but am sad that lightweights like Jon Runyan & Ben Quayle were the recipients of the ‘Pubs good fortune. Also, too bad Russ Feingold lost his reelection. A good man who definitely took his eye off the ball of focusing on the residents of his state, rather than the national needs. He gave one of the classiest concession speeches I’ve heard in some time. Lastly, I am sorry ‘Pub Carl Paladino lost. What an entertaining guy (read: thug)!

  • yobill626 says:

    Boehner is not going to repeal Healthcare, because he knows in politics, you don’t take away something voters already have. He will try to push through the Tax Cuts for the Rich, which shows how really not serious the ‘Pubs are about lowering the deficit. Oh yeah, he’s going to save billions by focusing on “waste, fraud & abuse”. Good luck, John…

    • swedesboromike says:

      yobill- The majority of those tax cuts go to the middle class. You are aware of that, correct?

  • swedesboromike says:

    The ” Affordable Care” act drives up health care insurance costs all while mandating people buy it. It’s an awful piece of legislation. There are billions upon billions of fees that are charged to Insurance compaines, pharmaceutical companies, and mfgs of medical products. All while mandating that people cannot be denied insurance due to a prexisting condition. For the 85% of Americans with insurance it is going to drive up our costs and drive doctors out of business. And that is the reason the Democrats didn’t run on this. There are much less costly and better solutions to this problem. Like allowing the selling of policies accross state lines, allowing for tax free health savings accounts, eliminating insurance mandates so customers can purchase a progam that suits their needs, tort reforms so doctors don’t over prescribe, the building of clinics and Hospitals that harness the massive amounts of charity and donations from the American public so they can provide health care to those who cannot afford an insurance policy. We could help pay for this be eliminating the non profit status of PBS and NPR and by cutting their funding. Take George Soros’s donation and put it to better use by funding free of charge Hospitals.

  • jmc says:

    None of the Democrats that I saw ran on “Look, at me! I voted for healthcare!” That’s an indication of how popular it is. Republicans shouldn’t listen to the likes of DP, who is just trying to salvage what he can of the Obama agenda. The losses for Democrats at the federal and state level were devastating. Their out because they spent like crazy people and healthcare was the biggest of them all in terms of a price tag. Repeal! Repeal! Repeal!

    • backfire says:

      is it unpopular or is it mis-understood due to lies and outrageous claims like death panels? The poll mentioned in the article above supports the 2nd opinion.

  • Rich says:

    Obama used up a lot of his political capital getting health reform passed; it would be ironic indeed if the Republicans use up whatever political capital they have in a futile effort to repeal it. I don’t think bringing back pre-existing condition exclusions is going to be a big winner of a platform for the Republicans in 2012.

    • landscape says:

      It the GOP tries to derail the healthcare bill they will have the same fate as W trying to privatize Social Security. When people understand better what the bill does (not what has been said about it by the opposition before, during and after it passed) they will want more of the same.

  • Tom - wilmington, de says:

    Right. 22 of the Blue Dogs who supported Healthcare lost, as did several others not in the Blue Dog caucus. Senators who supported the law also lost (Blanche Lincoln). And last I checked, 48% compared to 31% and 17% for the other two propositions IS a majority. People like the components of the bill that call for no pre-existing conditions but hate the mandate, taxes, and the seniors (a reliable voting block) hate the Medicare cuts (yes, they are actual cuts). As for what Democrats would do, since when do Democrats care about what the people want. They did not want Obamacare passed, but the finagled the rules to pass it anyway. They did not want the cap and tax bill, but the House passed it anyway. And they wanted a different stimulus bill, but that also fell on deaf ears. Yeah, Democrats really care about what the people want, and they reall cower in the corner. They would never push through unpopular legislation. What a joke.

    • schnail says:

      You must have been reading the Discovery Institute Dictionary. 48%, when it leads, is not called a “majority”, but a “plurality”.

      Speaking for myself, I did want “Obamacare” passed. I think it in fact does not nearly go far enough. Health care should not be a for-profit enterprise. Leave that for plastic surgery. Free enterprise is great, but not when it comes to basic human health. This is America. People should not worry that they can’t afford basic medicine so that some CEOs can make 7,000 times what the average worker makes.

      I think cap-and-trade is appropriate, and I would like to see a bill passed on that as well. The Earth is warming, and it is almost certainly due at least in part to human activity. You may like that, or you may not like that, but the Earth will not take your tastes into account.

      Whether or not it qualifies me to be a “real American”, I generally support liberal policies.

      And despite some GOP wins, I will not be going away.

spacer image