A popular topic of conversation these days for DC pundits, Sunday talking heads and op/ed writers is: “Which political Party will be hurt more if the Supreme Court over turns all, or a portion of, the President’s Health Care Law?” One fairly well known Los Angeles Times writer examined the issue from all angles and concluded that “only time will tell”. Well, that certainly qualifies him as a man of strong conviction!
Sadly, any well-informed political commentator could probably produce a research paper similar in length to the PPACA in trying to assess which political party will be the winner and which will be the loser. No worries, I won’t attempt to do that. But I am certain of one thing - the GOP will lose in the long term if it does not change its approach to the entire health care issue.
History Lesson: In 1992, Americans elected Bill Clinton who immediately tried to force a federal government takeover of American medicine, affectionately called Hillarycare. What happened next? The country revolted and voted in a GOP House for the first time in generations. What did the GOP do in response — congratulated itself on stopping Hillarycare and basically went on to do nothing of note to address the fears and concerns of Americans vis a vis health care.
Do these three words – History repeats Itself - sound familiar? They should.
In 2008, nearly 20 years later, Americans elected Barack Obama who immediately tried to force a federal government takeover of American medicine, affectionately called Obamacare. Hmmmm, what happened next? You guessed it, Americans revolted and gave the GOP a House majority once more. But this time, the 21st Century Hillarycare had actually passed Congress and was signed into Law before the electoral revolt in 2010.
So now we stand on the precipice of yet another last minute reprieve. A possible SCOTUS rebuke of this latest attempt to force a federal government takeover of the American health system may just rescue the GOP from itself. But those who sit back, opine and await a decision before acting are wasting valuable time. Worse yet, if Court action ends the PPACA, and GOP leaders fail to learn from history, they will guarantee a successful future Cuomocare or yet another Hillarycare down the road.
If we retreat to the “safety” of a Congressional majority after a possible SCOTUS rescue, then fail to take control of the health care issue, we deserve what we get. The system is broken, everyone agrees with that. But our silence and/or our poor messaging creates an optic that screams out “the GOP does not care about me”. And the American people want leaders who take their concerns seriously. No doubt if the winners in 2012 fail to do so, 2014 voters will surely turn those winners into sudden losers.
The simple general prescription for the GOP to help win in 2012 and avoid a loss in 2014:
- propose reasonable and conservative improvements to the system
- create creative emotionally-driven media messaging
- recruit, train and utilize doctors as the primary messengers.
A discussion of the specifics will follow in future posts.