Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Kristol's Advice

There really is nothing about being a Republican or a conservative that should correlate with being a total fraud; there are plenty of sincere, well-informed, intelligent conservatives and Republicans.  And yet today's GOP seems to be particularly prone to listening to people who seem to have no idea what they're talking about.

No, this one isn't about Newt Gingrich (good guess!).  Jonathan Chait makes a good argument that Bill Kristol basically has no idea what he's talking about with regard to health care, following up on this good Jonathan Cohn post.  One thing from Kristol's original advice stuck out for me:
And if the legislation passes, the GOP should immediately begin trying to repeal key parts of it. The moment it passes, Mitch McConnell might introduce free-standing legislation repealing the Medicare cuts. Republicans could highlight their opposition to Big Pharma and Big Insurance by trying to force votes--in 2010--on drug re-importation and more insurance competition, measures that could go into effect right away so as to be of immediate benefit to the American people.
Drug re-importation?  Democrats would be more than happy to schedule such a vote. Re-important is basically a Democratic position, and one that by all accounts Obama had to lobby to defeat in the Senate.  As it was, the Dorgan amendment received 51 votes.  It was a true bipartisan grouping: Republicans supported it, 23-17, while Democrats opposed it 28-42.  So if Republicans decided to support it, re-importation has at least 68 votes, and I'd guess without going back to old votes that there are at least a half-dozen Dems who would be happy to vote for it, once health care passes.  I'd advise Obama to call Republicans out on that one right after the bill is signed, and thank the Republicans for their belated bipartisan support for the idea.

The other item (what Kristol calls "more insurance competition") is murkier; Cohn reads that as deregulation.  Certainly, however, if Republicans want antitrust repeal, the Democrats, again, would be more than happy to schedule that vote and rejoice in the bipartisan victory when it passes.

The key point here is that the only reason the Dems cut deals with the various interest groups was that they knew that they had zero Republican support.  If Republicans really want to attack the deals and the interest groups involved, Democrats would for the most part be glad to join them.

Basically, Kristol doesn't show that he actually, you know, has a basic understanding of the issue.  I agree with Chait: in pure partisan terms, Democrats should be happy that Kristol has plenty of influence with the GOP.

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