The Republican mind is a complex thing, awesome to behold and to contemplate.
Contemplate, for example, the passionate Republican opposition to the central health care reform proposal the Obama administration is advocating (at least, they seem to be advocating it, as of now): a public plan.
Here’s the NYT, capturing the passion perfectly:
The public plan concept has excited intense opposition from Republicans, insurers and big business. Stuart Butler, a domestic policy expert at the conservative Heritage Foundation, calls it “a nuclear minefield on the road to universal coverage.”
The beauty of the Republican opposition to the public plan is that it is simultaneously based on two diametrically opposed propositions. In lesser minds, the two propositions would collide like anti-matter meeting matter, thereby literally blowing your mind. But the Republican mind has evolved to the advanced state where it can simultaneously subscribe to two absolutely opposed concepts without suffering any collateral damage.
One the one hand, Republicans passionately argue that a public option must be opposed at all costs because it is doomed to failure, it would be unable to attract any voluntary participation. This is because who in their right minds would want the government running health care, the stupid incompetent government that couldn’t run absolutely anything without turning it into dust and ashes? Who in their right minds would want bureaucrats making decisions about their medical options? Who in their right minds would want to voluntarily embrace a system that would lead to interminable wait times for everything, that would effectively ration health care?
When Republicans passionately argue thusly, people with an IQ exceeding their age are not allowed to bring up the question of why Republicans need to fervently oppose a voluntary option that is predestined to fall flat on its face. If these Republicans actually believe what they are saying (and they must, right, because they are all honorable men?), they should just want to stand quietly to one side — repeating over and over again the mantra that they only want Obama to fail, not America or Americans — till Obama’s pet plan totally bombs in the marketplace. Then they can step back onto centerstage, and dance delighted little jigs on Obama’s political corpse, with hobnailed boots.
On the other hand, Republicans passionately argue that the the stupid incompetent government’s public plan would be so efficient and attractive to consumers that the health insurance industry would turn into dust and ashes:
But critics argue that with low administrative costs and no need to produce profits, a public plan will start with an unfair pricing advantage. They say that if a public plan is allowed to pay doctors and hospitals at levels comparable to Medicare’s, which are substantially below commercial insurance rates, it could set premiums so low it would quickly consume the market.
Although the numbers are disputed by public plan advocates, the Lewin Group, a health care consulting firm, recently projected that a plan paying Medicare rates would prompt 119 million of the 172 million people who are privately insured to switch policies (while also providing coverage to 28 million of the 46 million uninsured).
This time around, people with an IQ exceeding their age are not allowed to bring up the question of how come it’s not scandalous when Medicare pays doctors and hospitals at Medicare levels but it would be scandalous if a public plan did so. Or the question of what’s wrong with bringing down premiums. Or the question of what’s wrong with forcing private insurers to negotiate lower rates with doctors and hospitals and simultaneously tighten their belts when it comes to administrative and overhead expenses (perhaps by dismantling part of the vast free-market bureaucracy dedicated to coming up with excuses for denying claims by foul means). Or the question of what’s wrong with performing a little cosmetic surgery on private insurers’ bloated profits.
Here’s a little bonus aside, at the end. If you thought New York Senator Charles E. Schumer was bought and paid for only by, and cravenly beholden only to, investment banks and hedge funds, he’s inviting you to think again:
Mr. Sheils (John F. Sheils, a senior vice president at Lewin) estimated that only 12 million people with private coverage would migrate to a public plan if Congress provided protections for insurers, along principles suggested by Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York. Seeking to broker a deal that might attract Republican support, Mr. Schumer is promoting many of Mr. Nichols’s proposals (Len Nichols, the director of health policy at the New America Foundation), including that a public plan be subject to the same regulations as private plans and that it pay providers at higher levels than Medicare.
This guy’s not only a Democrat, he’s regarded as one of the pillars of the Democratic establishment. And here he is, quietly working to scuttle real healthcare reform from within. Unapologetically, and in full public view. And under the bald-faced pretext of attracting Republican support.
Someone forgot to tell him, I guess, that healthcare reform is being considered under budget reconciliation rules, that Republicans (or bad Dems) can’t filibuster it, that only 51 votes are required, that there’s no need to dilute the heck out of the bill just to get Republicans on board.
It’s great to be a fundraising king, isn’t it?