I’ve pounded congressional Democrats for spinning in circles on health care instead of starting toward the goal line.
But let’s not give the Republican Party a free pass. It’s the party that makes distortion, mockery and denigration an art form, and that, in the end, offers piddling few alternatives for anything other than cutting taxes and running up the deficit. (I won’t bore you with the last administration’s offenses, which broke the bank and the economy.)
As Republicans mount a last-ditch effort to block health care reform, they’ll lob everything from the farmhouse gutter that stinks. It’ll be interesting to see what sticks. Here are a three examples of the GOP at work. I promise more in the weeks ahead:
1. E.J. Dionne of The Washington Post looks at the “Republicans’ Big Lie About Reconciliation.”
Republicans … don’t want to talk much about the substance of health care. They want to discuss process, turn “reconciliation” into a four-letter word and maintain that Democrats are ‘ramming through’ a health bill.
Take Republican Sen. Orin Hatch’s assertion in an op-ed piece that simple up-or-down votes are not meant for “substantive legislation.” Dionne notes that both the 2001 and 2003 Bush tax cuts passed by a simple majority vote, using the process called reconciliation, and that they increased the deficit by $1.7 trillion. He adds:
The underlying “principle” here seems to be that it’s fine to pass tax cuts for the wealthy on narrow votes but an outrage to use reconciliation to help middle-income and poor people get health insurance.
2. Factcheck.org at the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg Public Policy Center notes that, “A relatively unknown conservative group called the League of American Voters has launched an ad attacking Democratic members of Congress for, in the words of the TV spot, voting in favor of ‘Obama and Pelosi’s health care takeover.’ But the ad is filled with misleading claims.”
Among these, the site reports, is the claim that the Democrats’ bill “rations” health care and is financed by an income tax surcharge. Factcheck again debunks the rationing claim (it’s been around since last summer’s fictitious “death panel” charges) and notes that the tax surcharge only applies to those with “modified adjusted gross income above $500,000 for individuals and $1 million for couples.” That leaves most of us out — and includes only those who made out like bandits in those Bush tax cuts.
3. Then there’s the GOP’s big-picture tactics. A daily dose of Fox “News” usually gives a pretty good example. But Politico.com offers what it calls this “exclusive,” titled, “RNC document mocks donors, plays on ‘fear.'”
It seems a Democrat picked up a 74-page hard copy of the Republicans strategy for the next election cycle. Politico reports it was left sitting on a table at a $2,500-a-head retreat (oops).
Politico’s Ben Smith summed it up this way:
The Republican National Committee plans to raise money this election cycle through an aggressive campaign capitalizing on ‘fear’ of President Barack Obama and a promise to ‘save the country from trending toward socialism.”
Nothing much new here. But at least these guys have a (rather dated) sense of pop culture. One page, notes Smith, “pictures Obama as the Joker from Batman, while House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leaders Harry Reid are depicted as Cruella DeVille and Scooby Doo, respectively.”
Do you think death panels for dogs could be next?