Thursday, December 5, 2013

When my son and I drove...

...across country a couple of summers ago, I told him more than once (I have a tendency to repeat myself) that you could never build the Interstate Highway System in today's political environment. If President Eisenhower had proposed the idea before the current Congress it would have been more than Dead on Arrival. The general who won World War II would be accused of being a "dangerous socialist" by the tea party and questions such as "Where was this guy born, anyway?" would begin surfacing on the Internet.

But thank God for the Interstate Highway System. Not only did we have a great trip out to Los Angeles, but think of all the trucks that haul things across the country each day, like the food you eat and the medicine your grandmother takes. Can you imagine anyone running for office today proposing that we abolish the system? Me neither. Nor could I imagine anyone seriously proposing an end to Social Security and Medicare. But the Republicans keep trying, don't they? And every time they do they think otherwise. Remember Paul Ryan's big plan to privatize Medicare a few years ago? He and Mitt Romney ended up running against the cuts to Medicare providers in the Affordable Care Act. Hypocrisy? Yeah, sure, but -- hey, that's politics.

I thought of all this after reading Why Obamacare Could Help the Democrats in 2014." (I actually disagree with that title. I would have written "Why Obamacare Could Help the Democrats in the long-run.") But Tomasky says a lot of things I've been thinking lately. He writes:

Here’s a nightmare for John Boehner: Eight or 10 months from now, Republicans’ obsession with getting rid of the health-care law is going to look awfully stupid to a majority of voters.

I would have written:

Here’s a nightmare for the GOP: Two or three years from now, Republicans’ obsession with getting rid of the health-care law is going to look awfully stupid to a majority of voters. (Because I think the ACA may still be a good issue for the GOP in 2014. But not for long.)

Here's the money quote from Tomasky's piece:

I’ve known for a long time the Republicans were on the wrong side of history here. Forty-something million uninsured in this impossibly rich country, and they don’t want to do a thing about it. And don’t fall for their “plans.” They’re unworkable. They’re unworkable because the Republicans aren’t willing to spend the money that experts all say is required to make plans workable. And they aren’t willing to spend the money because spending money acknowledges the existence of a common purpose in this nation, and they certainly can’t acknowledge a common purpose, unless it’s war.

And I think, in a few years, when the law is working about as well as the Interstate Highway System (or Social Security and Medicare) people are going to look at Republicans running for office and say, "Aren't you the guys who were so opposed to Obamacare? And now, what? You say you want to 'strengthen' it? Get the heck out of here!" (Except they won't say "heck.")

I do believe that Republicans will regret doubling down on such a losing argument. I still maintain that when President Obama and the Democrats decided to go with the old Republican health care plan instead of trying to pass a single-payer system the GOP should have declared victory right then and there and taken credit for the law. Instead they've ended up fighting it long after they should have cut their losses.

Southerners have been telling their children and grandchildren about the "Lost Cause" of the Civil War for generations. Sound familiar?

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