"Once abolish God and the government becomes the God." -G.K. Chesterton

Monday, February 15, 2010

Republicans Can Gain from Skipping Obama's Healthcare Summit

To summit or not to summit? That is the question that Republicans have been wrestling with regarding the president's bipartisan meeting on healthcare. I'm not sure Republicans can say no to the meeting without losing some political traction among independents, at least in the short-term. But should they say yes, rest assured that the debate will have all the staged theatrics of a WWE match with Obama playing the role of Vince McMahon.

I, for one, don't think the president cares whether GOP leaders accept his invitation or not. It's an astute political move that will be painted as a win for him either way. If Republicans decline, Obama (with the help of the liberal press) will deride them as an obstructionist party unwilling to work with Democrats, or a party of no ideas. Then again, they've been saying that all year and it hasn't seemed to hurt the GOP. If Republicans do attend, the president will pretend to listen in front of the cameras, then persuade Pelosi to reconcile with the Senate's bill while claiming Republican measures were carefully considered. Or he will return to the back room deals under the auspices of the same false claims, but with added political clout. 

An even greater obstacle might be Obama's role as the "moderator" of the debate. You might as well hire game-fixer Tim Donaghy to officiate this year's NBA Finals. By playing referee, the president gets to come off as a reasonable centrist even though he has a huge political stake in the outcome and we know which side he favors. Pretending to vote present, as Obama did in the Illinois state senate a record 130 times, doesn't work when you've already revealed your support for the most radical version of single-payer healthcare and campaigned on the promise of a public option. Still, that's not going to stop him from trying.

Republicans and moderates alike should keep in mind that Obama is not holding this summit to seek solutions, especially those outside of his ideology (i.e. free market solutions). Nor does the summit present an opportunity for the smartest ideas to prevail. What Obama seeks is cover for the arrogance, hostility, and contempt he has shown his critics up to this point. The summit is a charade to make a predetermined verdict seem plausible, that handing more power over to the State is the best way to "fix" healthcare, and that it has been thoroughly discussed and debated by all sides. For the president, the words "summit" and "submit" are almost interchangeable. We are supposed to summit to submit to his way of thinking.

To be fair, Republicans seem to sense this trap. That is why they offered a counter proposal with preconditions, including the promise to throw out the current bills and start over from scratch. These conditions obviously will not be met, so now what?

Here's an idea. Since health care reform is a manufactured crisis of the Left and not even close to a top priority for American voters right now, the GOP should decline Obama's invitation to instead focus on job growth, deficits, and reducing government spending. It's time to stop playing defense and start playing offense. Put the pressure on Democrats to cut back big government and to fix the troubled entitlement programs we already have before adding a new one to our overburdened debt. Make any health care reform discussions contingent on fixing these problems first. All but the far left base of the Democratic Party will appreciate such an initiative.

Actually, Republicans could invite the president to their own summit on fiscal responsibility. After all, the facts are on their side, a $160 billion deficit the last year they controlled Congress vs. a $1.5 trillion deficit after just three years of Democratic rule. They can talk about all the obscene spending Obama has added since taking office and highlight the fact that he is one of those politicians that "talks the talk, but doesn't walk the walk." Make him stake his presidency on this, and ask him how he plans to deal with the record deficit without raising taxes. It will make it that much easier to label him a tax-and-spend liberal come next election.

No comments:

Post a Comment