Thursday, April 1, 2010

Joe Klein on the Republican roots of the new health care law and of opposition to it

Since my life became very full of caregiving, I've found it next to impossible to keep up with the news the way I used to. So I didn't absorb much of the debate about the new health care law.

This morning I read Joe Klein's article "Promise Delivered" in the April 5 issue of TIME Magazine (online it has a different title) and was very struck by the passages below. If Klein is right (and he has seemed pretty reliable), the new law is actually based on Republican-generated ideas, and one reason for opposition to universal health care was exposed as purely political by a major Republican strategist some time ago.

These passages could be useful talking points when speaking with people who opposed the law.

"Substantial numbers of Republicans had always favored reform, even archconservatives: 20 years ago, the Heritage Foundation's Stuart Butler came up with a plan to provide universal coverage,paying for it by replacing the tax-exempt status of employer-provided health benefits with a system of progressive tax credits. In 1993 the Republicans, led by Senators John Chafee and Bob Dole, who never forgot that that his life was saved by government health care, offered an alternative that many, including me, thought was better than the Clinton Administration's proposal. It became the basis for the universal health plan passed in Massachusetts by Governor Mitt Romney. Massachusetts, in turn, became the basis for the federal plans offered in the 2008 campaign by Hillary Clinton and later adopted by President Obama. The plan passed by Congress and signed by the President on March 23 was, then, a mongrel; its roots were in the Republican plan of 1993 and in Massachusetts."

"The Republican stonewall [of the new law] had its roots in a memo that William Kristol wrote in 1993,urging Republicans not to cooperate in any way with Bill Clinton on health care because, among other things, the plan represented 'a serious political threat to the Republican Party.' In other words, it would make Clinton and the Democrats more popular."

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