Apparently, Republicans and Democrats are in some sort of contest to see who's worse at finding their own asses in the dark with both hands and a flashlight. While Democrats continue to prove that they couldn't organize a backyard barbecue, Republicans are proving they couldn't write up a grocery list. The word of the day is "Incompetence" with a capital "I." On healthcare reform, we now have House and Senate bills that were originally deadlined in August possibly being pushed back to next year. And, if you're really in the mood to bang your head against your keyboard, there's this headline in the New York Times to consider -- "Democrats to Use Election to Push Agenda in Congress."
Hey, that's a pretty good idea. But you know when that would've been an even better idea? Maybe last year, when Obama and Dems were both insanely popular. Way to get right on top of that, guys.
Blaming election setbacks on a drop in voter enthusiasm, Congressional Democrats said Wednesday that losses in governors’ races in Virginia and New Jersey — and a striking House win in New York — should give new urgency to their legislative agenda, including a sweeping health care overhaul.
As they assessed the results, Democratic lawmakers and party strategists said their judgment was that voters remained very uneasy about the economy and did not see Democrats producing on the health, energy and national security changes they promised when voters swept them to power only a year ago.
Both of the congressional seats Democrats gained Tuesday night were gained by candidates who not only supported healthcare reform, but the public option. Meanwhile, one of the dems who lost gubernatorial races that night -- Creigh Deeds of Virginia -- said he'd consider opting out of the public option if it came to that. In other words, the Blue Dog position was the big loser on Tuesday and the rest of the party wants to use the results to get the Blue Dogs off the dime. In races where healthcare reform and the public option had been brought up as an issue, healthcare reform and the public option won. This isn't extremely surprising, considering that poll after poll shows the public option is popular with voters.
But if Democrats can't get it together, they're partially saved by being able to rely on a Republican Party that's incoherent, leaderless, and motivated only to oppose. While Democrats are about a year late on implementing their big "use the elections" strategy, Republicans are busy screwing up their own work. You might remember that Republicans finally released their big healthcare reform alternative and -- get ready to be surprised -- it turns out it sucks.
[Capitol Briefing, Washington Post:]
The long-awaited Republican entry in the health care debate received its assessment late Wednesday from congressional budget analysts, who concluded that the proposal would barely dent the ranks of the uninsured.
The measure would cover only 3 million additional people at a cost of $60 billion through 2019, according to an analysis by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. It would leave more than 52 million Americans uninsured a decade from now.
Worse -- if possible -- it doesn't do anything about the preexisting conditions dodge that insurers have abused and it doesn't reduce the deficit as much as Democratic plans and it won't reduce costs by any more than 3% for 80% of consumers. And even then, that measly 3% wouldn't kick in until 2016.
"The GOP bill does require less new government spending, but that's what you get when you don't insure anybody," writes Brian Beutler for Talking Points Memo. "And though it does reduce the deficit, it does so by billions less than the Democrats' bill does."
Let's consider the timeline here; we first got a glimpse of a Republican alternative in March and it became an actual promise in June. And, after the better part of a year, we get this big pile of nothing. Kind of makes you glad they didn't rush it, doesn't it? It'd probably require that people with preexisting conditions be shot if they hadn't -- that's one of the few ways I can think of that it could possibly be worse. Basically, the House GOP plan is what we've got, with minor and inconsequential tweaks. "Tonight CBO confirmed that the Republicans' only solution for health reform is to preserve the status quo," said Democratic Rep. George Miller in a statement. On the bright side, you couldn't compromise in any way that wouldn't improve it.
Polling shows that voters believe Republicans are winning this "who sucks more?" game the GOP and dems are playing, but that's not to say that Democrats are giving it a damned good try. With just a tiny bit more effort, Democrats could take the lead here and prove themselves even more incompetent than their opposition.
The bad news is that it looks like they're making that effort.
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