Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

What has happened to the GOP?

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Ezra Klein and Evan Soltas have a sobering report in the Washington Post. The situation is truly growing dire: a stubborn minority of irrational (in the sense that they neither use nor respond to reason) zealots are willing to damage the country to express their ire: the fact that they are showing themselves to be petty-minded and mean-spirited bothers them not at all because they lack even the rudimentary moral consciousness to be aware of those as problems. The report begins:

Ever heard the line “no plan survives first contact with the enemy?” Well, no big law ever fully survives first contact with reality. There are always provisions that prove poorly drafted, or parts that don’t elicit quite the behavior you expected. Then there are the parts that work better than you expected, and which you want to expand.

Medicare was signed into law in 1965. In 1967, Congress passed a bill making a suite of technical changes and modest reforms to the new program. They did the same in 1972. The 1986 immigration bill was corrected in 1988. Social Security was altered in 1939, and has been changed time and again in the intervening years. Medicare Part D’s difficult implementation process led to Democrats calling hearings to gather ideas on how to fix it. This is how it should be. Laws are written on paper, not stone. They can be easily changed.

Usually.

In today’s New York Times, Jonathan Weisman and Robert Pear report on a peculiar problem faced by the Affordable Care Act: Republicans who’re unable to repeal it also refuse to permit any tweaks or technical correction that would help it work better. In fact, they’re creating new problems by withholding implementation funds.

This is a real problem for the law, and for the country. Back in January 2011, I called itthe biggest danger for health reform, and I still think that’s right: If it persists, “what America will get is not the Affordable Care Act, and nor will it be repeal of the Affordable Care Act. It’ll be a hobbled version of the Affordable Care Act, where what works isn’t expanded and what fails isn’t replaced. And though that might be better than nothing for the uninsured, it will be pretty terrible policy.”

There’s both a strategy and a principle at play here. The GOP really, truly hates Obamacare. They believe that their best chance to repeal it is to make it as big a mess as possible. Anything that makes it easier to live with makes it harder to get rid of. But they know that the chances of repeal are pretty slim. That’s where the politics come in. They think their best chance to retake the Senate in 2014 is to make Obamacare as big a mess as possible and then ride the outrage in the midterms.

They may be right about that, or they may be very wrong. But this is a theory that requires Republicans to knowingly damage America’s health-care system on the off-chance the damage is severe enough to help them accomplish a much larger policy goal. It’s a theory that requires them to choose to let problems fester because the pain is more politically useful than the cure.

There’s an emergent argument, and some strong evidence, that . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

28 May 2013 at 12:29 pm

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