As most Americans rightfully turn their attention toward the holiday season and their priority becomes a focus on faith, family, and friends, our elected officials at both the Federal and State levels are busily working on a range of very important issues, from tax rates to individual freedoms in controlling our personal health care decisions.
Important note: I know Nebraskans think that Governor Heineman’s announcement on November 15 formerly http://www.governor.nebraska.gov/news/2012/11/15_health_care.html was some kind of miracle and the the best way to protect Nebraska from the brunt of implementing the health care law. Unfortunately, it turns out, that’s not true. Obviously, that requires an explanation, which I WILL provide ASAP.
This article is being published first to provide some background for everyone interested in this issue, but specifically for people in Michigan who will be receiving an email from our “sister” group there, The Common Core Math Standards (missing direct link). Michigan’s Republican Governor and Republican-controlled State House members are poised to vote on Thursday on setting up a State-based health care exchange, meaning they are providing assistance to the Federal government in implementing the health care law.
Among the many wrong conclusions so hastily drawn about the outcome of Election 2012, one looks very ominous. This conclusion has resulted in a pure fallacy that the American people somehow endorsed the implementation of the health care law. We’re told by Republican elected officials that “ObamaCare is the law of the land”1, SO, we should all just lay down and shut up2 as most Republican officials work to git ‘er done3
Leaving aside the many infuriating aspects of this Republican cave-in, it’s time to drop a nuclear bomb on the idea that Election 2012 is equal to an embrace of the health care law.
In anointing a nominee4 who was the architect of government-run health care, Republican elites telegraphed that their three years of rhetoric was ONLY that. Their pledges pre-election were as impotent as their efforts to fight the law during the debate itself5 Why the deliberate impotence? That critical matter requires much prayer and contemplation…and is a matter for another day.
Regardless of why the issue was so mishandled, the fact is, it was – to the peril of us all.
A GOP candidate COULD HAVE made the health care law a central campaign issue – in fact, it may have been the only issue which could have received unifying support from a majority of voters.
The health care law remains provably unpopular with a majority of Americans, making assertions that the law was accepted pure myth. The mythology has been rapidly woven by those who’ve always wanted it; by those who believe the health care law has been wrung out politically to the max, so it’s time to move on from it; and by those who have no will or skills to fight for what is right.
Exit polls on Election Day show a clear disconnect between choice of President and support for the law: the majority of such polls show a 5 point preference for repealing part or all of the law, regardless of stated party affiliation. Only voters who listed health care as their number one election issue are in fervent support of the entire law (see footnote6).
Of all people, Mitt Romney was the last person on earth who could ever make the health care law a winning campaign issue. During the GOP Primaries he vowed to “Repeal ObamaCare” and/or to engage in the King-like unconstitutional act of issuing an Executive Order to “grant waivers to all 50 states”.
The Governor and his campaign staff knew he was incredibly vulnerable on this issue, so it was not only not a central campaign issue, its mentions were minimal, but no less disturbing during the General Election.
The mantra “Repeal Obamacare” from the Primary became “Repeal & Replace Obamacare”. But, Romney didn’t explain – nor was he ever pressed about — just WHAT he would replace ObamaCare with. Did he intend to replace it with his Massachusetts plan? Was his bizarrely stubborn unwillingness to disavow “RomneyCare” a sign that he was going to help States set up their own version of his plan?
Besides “Repeal & Replace,” Romney made feeble attempts to defend the indefensible: his Massachusetts plan. “RomneyCare” is a state-run equivalent of “ObamaCare” and a proven boondoggle. According to a number of studies, reports (see footnote7, for multiple sources), etc. it has…
- Proven far more costly than originally projected (almost always true of government programs)
- Shifted majority of this welfare program’s cost to Federal government – meaning the rest of the country
- Only provided insurance coverage to half of the previously uninsured
- Not reduced emergency room visits at all
- Driven policy discussions to include calls for “cost-controls” and implementation of a single-payer system8
It turns out that the real purpose of the Massachusetts plan, was to take that State’s out-of-control health care welfare program – which was free care for which providers were NOT reimbursed at all – and to shift those costs to the rest of the country. Mitt Romney’s answer to an out-of-control program, in other words, was to redistribute Massachusetts’ welfare tab to the rest of America.
Americans who do not support the health care law – especially those who consider themselves moderate or conservative – should know there is something woefully wrong with a candidate’s arguments when his base of support is found among the likes of The New York Times, Ezra Klein, American Progress, The Atlantic9, and Massachusetts government bureaucrats whose jobs depend upon the continuation of the program.
It could be argued that one of the reasons – perhaps the key reason – for Mitt Romney’s loss, was the accurate detection by many voters (and those so disgusted they didn’t show up to the polls) that Romney lacked credibility – that he was willing to shift his positions and arguments based not on truth or principles, but on political wind direction, dates on an Election calendar, and GPS coordinates of the moment.
Republican Party elite and elective officeholders need to be held accountable for anointing Mitt Romney as a candidate and for their three years of pledges to und0 the health care law. Republicans rode a historic wave into a Republican House in 2010 partly based on their assertions that they would repeal, de-fund, and fight tooth and nail. State GOP leadership urged voters to back Republican candidates beginning in 200910 based on their vows to fight, fight, fight!
It cannot be argued that Mitt Romney was the choice of rank and file Republicans, because Party leadership, candidates, and current elective officeholders, almost across the board, have all been willing participants in years worth of centralizing power so that a handful of elites within State headquarters and, above all, within the Republican National Committee, have control over outcomes.
The majority of GOP elites across the land endorsed Mitt Romney over all of other candidates with lightning speed. And they energetically supported the strong arm tactics of the Romney team throughout the Primary season and at the annual convention in Tampa in September, which were designed to make the GOP nominee a king and to institutionalize Party platform and Constitution changes by elites – not the rank and file.
The centralizing of power, the poor choices in nominees by these elites, the shutting out of needed grassroots support, has sent a clear message to Republican voters of principle: We don’t need or want your input. We just want your money, and we know you’re desperate, so your vote is a foregone conclusion. We’ve got you…no matter what we do.
Is it any wonder that…
- Registered Republicans switching to Independent in high numbers (see Gallup, this EconTalk podcast and attachment, and this article)
- More Republicans stayed home or didn’t vote for President in 2012 than in 2008
The GOP elites have all the power they’ve desired. And what have been the results?
When it comes to Mitt Romney’s candidacy and the overall GOP strategy on health care which cannot be disconnected from it, the Party elites bought it, they broke it, now they need to OWN IT.
If the Republican Party doesn’t make good on all of its rhetoric…where CAN it go from here?
- On November 8, 2012, Speaker of the House John Boehner was widely quoted as stating, “ObamaCare is the law of the land”, however, apparently, there has been some pushback on Boehner following that remark, as he has since “walked back” that remark by declaring the “ObamaCare is on the table” in “fiscal cliff” negotiations. Professional politicos refer to these flip flops as “floating trial balloons”, while we average Joes see more clearly with each new balloon set, that there isn’t a shred of principle in someone like a John Boehner, it’s just pure politics. ↩
- One sign of that the message is “SHUT UP”, is yet another trial balloon floated by Speaker Boehner: various reports appeared in the first days after November 6, regarding Boehner statements which were clearly perceived as an effort to distance the Republican Party, and its elected officials in Congress in particular, from the tea party. But, in another illustration of backlash apparently popping a political trial balloon, Boehner has also had to “walk back” that remark as well. ↩
- Very much more needs to be said about why Republicans are both very wrong in providing assistance in implementing the health care law, but also premature. Whole new rounds of litigation are now under way, there are many future opportunities only delayed by procedure and standing requirements, and a new development since the election which may gut key aspects of the law: two challenges previously deemed “not ripe” by circuit courts have been ordered to proceed by the U.S. Supreme Court. These cases will be heard in Spring 2013 and could land in the Supreme Court later in the year. ↩
- Note that Nebraska’s Dave Heineman, was the first Governor to endorse Mitt Romney as the GOP Presidential nominee, and he did so, repeatedly. ↩
- To support this contention, I would ask the question: What did Republicans actually DO to fight the passage of the health care law? Did they explain WHY progressives advocate for single payer? Did they explain what truly drives skyrocketing costs? Did they make FREE MARKET arguments? Did they make clear that the only way to avoid government’s total take over of health care is to dismantle Medicaid and Medicare? Did they acknowledge that it’s insane to attach health insurance coverage to employment? Or did they continue to support the mythology that we can fix what’s wrong with health care by maintaining that status quo and all can be magically fixed with “tort reform” and health care savings accounts? For a real free market health care argument, click HERE to listen to an EconTalk podcast and/or to read any of the provided essays, etc. ↩
- A sampling of such exit polls can be found on FoxNews.com formerly http://www.foxnews.com/politics/elections/2012-exit-poll, The Hill, Politico.com, and Kaiser Family Foundation. ↩
- Massachusetts’ Plan: A Failed Model for Health Care Reform by Harvard Medical School staff – note that these reporters seem to be advocates for a single payer system; Mandatory Health Insurance: Wrong for Massachusetts, Wrong for America, has many citations to sources included at the bottom of the article. Note that these are just of the many available reports. And there are many more recent – simply too many to list here. ↩
- A report published on the Orthopedics Today website is a very informative policy round table discussion among physicians, health care administrators and policy officials, but it should be read thoroughly and with a very critical eye. The article’s introduction makes the MA health plan sound like a rousing success, but a read of the full text, reveals that “success” has a very peculiar definition in Massachusetts. In fact, “success” means that the program has cost far more than the highest projections. Inexplicably, most of the participants can’t seem to connect the dots. The blatant logical disconnects evidenced by the rather schizophrenic discussion, are due to a number of factors, not the least of which are what particular participants stand to lose. For instance, MA health care providers like the new program, because they are now being reimbursed for patients they were previously forced to provide care for, for FREE. But the exploding costs of the program now virtually guarantee radical fundamental changes to the whole health care economy in the state. ↩
- Note that even the listed media outlets, supportive of RomneyCare, confess to the fact that the program has skyrocketing costs which can’t be ignored. ↩
- I will cite myself as an eye witness: Beginning in the summer of 2009, I was present at several events where Republican office holders – most of whom ran for re-election for their current office or for a higher office in 2010 – appeared to speak about health care. In many cases, the offices they held or were running for in 2010, were, at best, marginally positioned to do anything about health care policy. I was also present at the Lancaster County and State NEGOP convention in 2010, where the leading theme was the necessity of electing and re-electing as many Republicans as possible, with the outcome the guarantee that would mean getting rid of “ObamaCare”. ↩
Shelli Dawdy is first and foremost the mother of three children whom she has taught at home via the classical method since removing her children from school in 2001. During her early years as a homeschool mother, she worked part-time as a freelance writer. Born and raised in the Iowa, Shelli and her husband moved to the state of South Dakota in 1997, attracted to its more limited government and friendly tax environment. In 2006, Shelli and her family relocated to Lincoln, Nebraska, when her husband’s employer offered a new position. She took a break from work and politics for a time, recognizing the need to focus solely on her childrens’ schooling with two now of high school age. Distressed by many things she was witnessing on the national political scene and disillusioned about the Republican Party, she decided to start writing again, this time online. Motivated to get involved with others at the grassroots level, she networked with activists on the social media tool, Twitter. She was involved in organizing the first tea party rallies inspired by Rick Santelli’s “rant” on CNBC in February 2009. Recognizing that activism should generate on the local level, she founded Grassroots in Nebraska in March of 2009. The group’s mission is a return to Constitutional, limited government, according to its original meaning. While the group has held several tea party rallies, it’s focus is to take effective action. Among its many projects, GiN successfully coordinated testimony for the hearing of the Nebraska Sovereignty Resolution, networked with other groups to ensure a large show of public support at the hearing, and coordinated follow up support to ensure its passage in April 2010. While working to build up GiN throughout 2009, she was asked to work as writer and producer of the documentary film, A New America, which lays out how Progressivism is responsible for how America has moved away from its Constitutional roots. You can see more of her work on Grassroots in Nebraska (GiN) and StubbornFacts