John, the Republicans’ plan comes at a particularly critical juncture for the Democrats. They must do two things: convince voters to trust government to assume vast new powers and that there is no viable alternative model of reform.
Republican lawmakers and grassroots activists over the summer concentrated primarily on the first issue, explaining the big government power grab that was underway. Call it the “death panels” or “rationing,” but the prospect that government would intrude into the patient-doctor relationship got the public’s attention. Highlighting concerns that the deficit will balloon and that the bevy of new taxes will strangle the recovery in its crib, conservatives have been gathering plenty of ammunition to energize voters and to give lawmakers pause about voting for this type of plan.
But the urge to do “something” is great. Democrats have convinced themselves it was the lack of any plan, not the content of HillaryCare, that sunk them in 1994. And nervous Republicans want to avoid the “obstructionist” tag. (Sometimes obstructionism is a noble thing that is richly rewarded, but politicians are nervous types.)
It is therefore tactically smart to produce a concise list that both highlights the bad things in PelosiCare and that gives Republicans an alternative, one that might eventually be the Plan B if the Democrats’ efforts crater. The contrasts are great. Republicans want tort reform; Democrats want to repeal it. Democrats want a public option to supplant the private insurance market; Republicans want to help expand the private insurance market.
Congressmen and senators will have a choice between these starkly different models. And the Democrats will have a hard time convincing voters there is no other possible avenue for reform. Oh yes there is.