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Health Care Financing Reform, Hobson's Choices, And Lincoln's Axe

As President Obama and Congressional Republicans prepare to finally talk to each other about health care financing reform, Obama is taking one last stab at controlling the agenda and constraining the discussions to "how little of my fantasies do I have to give up"

The Republicans, understandably, don't particularly like that approach. "Mr. President, the House bill passed with a single Republican voting in support. The Senate bill wasn't as bad, and we killed that one. Why the hell can't we start from scratch?"

This, of course, is entirely in keeping with the Obama definition of "bipartisan:" "A bunch of Democrats and one or two Republicans that we can bribe to come along."

There are a lot of people telling the Republicans to not buy into Obama's preconditions, screaming "It's a trap!" But I think I see a way for them to turn the tables and get a win.

Obama wants to use one of the bills as a starting point, a framework, for the final bill. He believes that will guarantee him victory.

He's wrong. Not if the Republicans pull a "Lincoln's Axe" on him.

It's an old tale, about a treasured family heirloom.

"Johnny, this axe used to belong to Abe Lincoln. He used it to split logs. It's been in our family for over 150 years, and some day it'll be yours."

"Really, grandpa?"

"Really. Of course, we've replaced the handle four times and the head twice..."

Take one of the two bills. It doesn't matter which, but I'd say take the shorter one. And then start rewriting it immediately after the introduction.

Don't trash the entire bill. Just read along until we find something we don't like, then replace it with something we do. Leave the title, the nice, generic introduction, the section titles, and the lofty rhetoric. Just gut every single bad idea and replace it with something more palatable.

And if there are whole sections that are objectionable, then replace them with empty rhetoric and exhortations that specifically are denied the force of law. "Insurance companies should cut premiums in half, accept any applicants without question or condition, and not even think about asking about pre-existing conditions. This shall not be enforceable by law."

One thing they need to keep in mind is to not just dump a completed bill on the desk. No, you can't just dump that frog in the boiling water. Do it incrementally, one section at a time. Introduce one revised section, argue about it, settle it -- and then bring in the next one.

In the end, Obama might end up with a "stone soup" health bill, where his party's only contribution is the "stone" -- the one part that doesn't really matter.

So be it.

This is quite possibly Obama's ever had to deal with real, concrete, substantive opposition in his life. He has no idea how to deal with that, and most of his team comes from the same corrupt Chicago Democratic machine. They came to Washington not understanding how a two-party system works, and they are so arrogant that they haven't grasped that they have to learn a different way.

They better start learning soon. November's coming...


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Comments (7)

I want the Republicans to p... (Below threshold)

I want the Republicans to present a plan. Take Paul Ryan's for example. I would like the public to know that Republicans have thought about this. If I were going to elect a Republican in November I would like to see evidence of leadership. Compromising on or reworking an already crappy bill does not lead to a quality bill.

It's to late for the *Democ... (Below threshold)

It's to late for the *Democrat Health Care Reform* bills.
They are 'hotter than the sun' to the electorate that is aware of them. Anyone that comes into contact with them will be radioactive as well, meaning any Republican stupid enough to fall for 'The Won's' not so subtle ploy to get bipartisan support.

The Republican's can hear the roar of the coming electorate's tidal wave but they know it would be suicidal to jump into the Democrat's Health Care lifeboat.

I'm hoping the Republicans ... (Below threshold)
recoverd liberal democrat:

I'm hoping the Republicans will tell "O" to take "His" O-care bill and use it for fireplace kindling. Instead of falling into the trap of arguing over health-care, Republicans should instead hold-out for tax cuts across the board. Let the liberals go on record as opposing what the economy needs to turn around. Republicans should not get bogged down fighting for something that is way down the list of what Americans want fixed. "O" is always looking for someone to blame and the Republicans should not give him the ammo to do so. 2010 is not that far away.

It seems to me that healthc... (Below threshold)

It seems to me that healthcare has become some sort of mean-spirited game of sandlot football, where football has become secondary to scoring cheap hits on the opposing team. It's no longer about healthcare. It's about winning a winner-take-all political food fight.

Something the liberals never seem to be willing to consider is that this is simply a horrible bill that does not deserve to survive. Republicans and, more important, the American people see it. The bill in its many forms has lasted this long because of secret negotiations, outright bribery, vindictive abuse of legislative rules, and nasty parliamentary slight of hand. It would be childish if the consequences weren't so enormous.

If the purpose of the Obama administration was to fix healthcare, that is not what everyone is bickering about now. It isn't about whether Obama can claim a Pyrrhic political victory. If Democrats would just zip up their flies and stop screaming for a few minutes, they would realize that major changes don't have to cost a trillion dollars, and nationalization of our healthcare system is completely unnecessary. They would realize that the public hates this legislation and that they lose even if they win. But, no.

Serious tort reform doesn't have to cost the government anything. Neither does an abolition of existing condition rules, nor does permitting the interstate sale of insurance coverage. Nor does simplifying the pricing and approval process for medical procedures or punishing insurance companies who unfairly deny coverage purely for profitability reasons. All of these changes are basically available for free, and given a room full of adults, most people would agree.

Nor does making attempted lobbying on behalf of the insurance industry in Washington a shoot-on-sight capital crime.

But the answer is not more legislative gamesmanship. It's not about who wins the debate. It's time to muck out the stalls and start over.

"....real, concrete, substa... (Below threshold)
Don L:

"....real, concrete, substantive opposition in his life...."

If the GOP had the ability to do that , we wouldn't be where we are now. As Rush refers to it they've been Chickified!

Just say no! ... (Below threshold)

Just say no!

Obama's healthcare bill, li... (Below threshold)
P. Bunyan:

Obama's healthcare bill, like most everything this congress and administration have created, is a shit sandwhich.

If someone made a shit sandwhich for you, would you say, "just remove the shit and put some meat, cheese, lettuce, and mayonaise between those same two slices of bread and then I'll eat it."?






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