Why the GOP opposes Obamacare

I have previously expressed surprise that the Republican party had chosen Obamacare, of all things, as the issue that the were going to fight to the death, even though the dry details of a health care policy that actually is quite business-friendly are not the kind of things that press emotional hot buttons to arouse strong passions. That is usually the domain of GRAGGS (guns, race, abortion, gays, god, sex) issues.

But John Perr argues persuasively that the right wing has long been fearful that a successful health care reform package would prove to be so popular that it would cement Democratic party dominance for generations to come, the way that Social Security and Medicare did for previous generations.

At its core, the Republicans’ scorched-earth opposition to Obamacare has never been so much about “freedom” or “limited government” or any other right-wing ideological buzzword as it has been about political power, pure and simple. Now as for the past 20 years, Republicans have feared not that health care reform would fail the American people, but that it would succeed. Along with Social Security and Medicare, successful health care reform would provide the third and final pillar of Americans’ social safety net, all brought you by the Democratic Party. To put it another way, the GOP was never really concerned about a “government takeover of health care”, “rationing”, “the doctor-patient relationship” or mythical “death panels,” but that an American public grateful for access to health care could provide Democrats with an enduring majority for years to come.

He says that this was why the party mounted a massive, and successful, opposition to the previous attempt at health care reform during the Clinton administration (Recall ‘Hillarycare’?). However, this time the reforms passed and that is why there is a last-ditch effort to thwart implementation at the state level. What that is going to create is a system where states with Democratic governors and legislatures have better health care than states with Republican ones. How long that unstable situation can continue is unclear.


  1. wtfwhatever says

    Perr’s article is trivial.

    Yes, the R’s are outraged that the D’s are buying votes, just as the D’s are outraged when the R’s buy votes.

    Regardless, the effective enemy of Obamacare came from L’s over at the VC and if you had read their various posts which occurred over the span of months, you can see many R’s that truly wanted Obamacare first poo-poohed the L’s arguments and then became grudgingly persuaded by them.

    I am looking forward to October when the exchanges open and to Jan 1 when my pre-existing condition will not keep me from getting health insurance.

    That said, Obamacare is fucked up and will continue to fuck up the country until we go to a non-employer based health care system and one that gives a giant finger to the insurance companies.

  2. left0ver1under says

    But John Perr argues persuasively that the right wing has long been fearful that a successful health care reform package would prove to be so popular that it would cement Democratic party dominance for generations to come, the way that Social Security and Medicare did for previous generations.

    That sounds a bit like Canada’s history. The Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) was a socialist party in Canada with only regional support. But after Saskatchewan Premier Tommy Douglas enacted provincial socialized health care in the 1940s, the party became popular in other provinces and nationally. It led to the CCF and its successor, the New Democratic Party or NDP, to become a viable and permanent party in parliament instead of the two party system that federal politics had been for Canada’s first sixty years as a nation.


    The US has long needed but never had a third (and maybe fourth) national party that held significant amounts of power. The absence of minority governments in the US has been the single biggest cause of corruption and gradual lawlessness of corporations and the rich.

  3. machintelligence says

    It is truly sad to note that the Republicans could have claimed health care reform for their own, using Massachusetts as a model. Of course they would have had to share the glory with the Democrats and they do not believe in that, they play only to win This is the one policy where the Dems should be willing to “stand their ground”, and if it comes to a showdown (government shutdown or debt default) be willing to “go to the knife.” {In a knife fight, the winner goes to the hospital and the loser goes to the morgue.) I predict some major unpleasantness to come.

  4. machintelligence says

    wtfwhatever @ 1

    the effective enemy of Obamacare came from L’s over at the VC

    OK What is the VC? Venture capitalists doesn’t make sense, nor does anything else in my Google search.

  5. unbound says

    Rather interesting comment from the link that adds more insult to injury in all of this:

    And what really ads insult to injury for Republicans, is that PPACA isn’t even a Democratic Plan!

    This was the Heritage Foundation plan for Bob Dole, to use in case Bill decided to make health care front and center again in 1996.

    And when they had a chance to actually implement their own plan during the W mis-administration, they were far too busy ignoring warning about 9/11, while taking extended vacations, and then, dealing with the repercussion of their own hubris and incompetence, waged two needless wars and occupations, torturing and renditioning people in the process, telling a Florida man that he couldn’t allow his brain-dead wife to die peacefully, and deregulating the financial industries, to the point of a near world economic collapse!

    And then Mitt Romney, expecting a serious run for President, decided to take that plan, and use it in MA – and so, RomneyCare, was implemented. He hoped that would put him over the top, both in Republican Presidential primaries, and in the general.

    And then – ROFLMAO – Mitt found himself having to run against his signature piece of legislation when he was Governor of MA, because the Obama Administration, in the hopes of bringing in some Republicans votes, adapted the Heritage/Dole/Romney Plan, and turned it into PPACA – aka: Obamacare.

    And so, now the Republicans are desperate, because the ONE GOOD IDEA they’ve had in over half a century, WILL WORK – BUT FOR THE DEMOCRATS!!!

    As usual, Republicans – “Hoist, by their own retards!” *

    *My apologies for using that un-PC term – BUT IT FITS!!!

  6. says

    @left0ver1under #2 – Unfortunately, the US operates on something other than a Westminster Parliamentary system: having more than two major parties would likely prove disastrous on the national level. The short reason is that if no candidate gets a clear majority of Electoral votes, the House of Representatives elects one of the top three presidential candidates as President and the Senate elects one of the top two vice-presidential candidates as Vice President. These are done separately, with no regard for ticket.

    Congress is in very bad shape, thanks to the ideological differences between our two parties. Tossing a third into the mix, especially in the Presidential vote, would make for a total clusterfuck.

  7. says

    I’m rooting for Obamacare because I’m uninsured but frankly I don’t have any confidence it will ever really become a program to benefit the majority of citizens. Nothing ever is! If it benefits us it is merely a consequence of the real objective; money, politics or personal gain.

  8. says

    What that is going to create is a system where states with Democratic governors and legislatures have better health care than states with Republican ones. How long that unstable situation can continue is unclear.

    The authors of The Body Economic: Why Austerity Kills have a section on the New Deal social/health programs. They argue that the situation that arose, in which they were implemented fully in some states and not in others, provided a useful natural experiment to assess the programs’ effects. Guess what the outcomes were.

  9. lpetrich says

    The problem is not lack of a parliamentary system, but lack of a true multiparty electoral system. First part the post forces convergence onto two parties, out of fear of wasting one’s vote on a long shot. That effect is called Duverger’s law after Maurice Duverger, a sociologist who described it. He also described what alternative systems do, like how proportional representation encourages a multiparty system.

    It’s possible for US states to elect their House delegations by proportional representation; there is nothing in the US Constitution that forbids it. Yes, I’ve read that document. That would reduce House gerrymandering greatly, if not end it outright.

  10. wtfwhatever says

    To be blunt, if you think you are speaking knowledgeably about the opposition to Obamacare, VC needs no definition, because you will know that all the winning arguments, every single one of them, (whether you agree with them or not) in front of various courts including the Supreme Court came from the Volokh Conspiracy http://www.volokh.com, namely in this case by Randy Barnett, and was argued out in back and forth posts between Randy Barnett and others at the VC over a period of 6 months to a year long before the courts started agreeing with Professor Barnett.

    If you don’t know this, you should re-examine where you’re getting your information from, because it is not sufficient.

    The VC is a group of very smart, often frustrating, law professors from around the country. Frustrating because there is no denying their intelligence compared to so many of our “on paper”, “as described” R opponents, but frustrating for their usual L leanings or R leanings.

    Lots of Ls, but also lots of Rs that many of today’s R’s might kick out: R’s that value environmentalism, R’s that value good health care for all.

    And usually they illuminate, and in posts very understandable by us laymen, very important issues and cases before the court. And even if you don’t understand, there will probably be commentators that take it the rest of the way, or just by repeated exposure, you will understand eventually.

    Since you seem to like Professor Turley, I think you would appreciate reading the VC. It is frustrating though, because some of the Professors there I most admire refuse to think about things they way I want them to think about things. Orin Kerr on US v. Jones in particular.

  11. wtfwhatever says

    The commentators at the VC are all across the political spectrum, most are clearly very smart, and better informed than you or I and shit load more interesting and valuable to read than the crap that passes for commentators at FTB (minus your blog of course.)

  12. Corvus illustris says

    Much of the Heritage/Romney/Obama health insurance setup goes back even farther, to the time of the second Nixon administration. In the rear-view mirror, it seems that many reasonable things that happened around that time* may have been intended as distraction from VN&Cam and Nixonian chicanery, but they were reasonable anyway. Had a quasi-ACA gone into effect at the time (hard to think of the AMA as being powerful in the lobby now, after the rise of the brothers Koch and the banksters), we might already have Medicare for all. BTW, the link shows that the D’s were not on the side usually described as the angels’.

    *Sex between consenting adults was decrimiinalized in many states, some with R governors and legislatures. This was a new thing here in freedom’s land. Prosecutions (federal) for various kinds of porn were greatly reduced or eliminated. Hey, cheaper than buying bread or putting on circuses.


  13. Corvus illustris says

    Presidents aren’t everything, as Carter and Obama have taught us. And with three or more parties, all minorities, coalitions must form. Suppose you have different coalitions in the two houses. (We had this de facto for a long time, of course; both parties were really coalitions. Now we have two polarized parties, one off the wall. Imagine three.) Moreover, presidents are not prime ministers: they don’t fall if congressional support is absent. Etc., etc.

  14. Corvus illustris says

    Gerrymanders would become ineffectual if the entire House delegation of a state were elected at large, whether by proportional representation or not: this is what we have with each senator. Such a scheme would deprive the craziest legislatures (among which is surely MI’s) of a huge amount of power. IMHO there are elementary sociological reasons to expect these legislatures to fight vehemently. Many state constitutions can be amended by plebiscite, but that seems to be easy (because well-funded by the usual suspects) only when the amendment forbids abortions or 1-sex marriages.

  15. kevinalexander says

    The only truly representative government would be a Lotto Democracy. Pick the congress at random from the population and then have them hire the executive branch This way the Perpetual Election™ would be gone and Government by Lobby™ would be much more difficult.
    You will argue that ordinary people don’t understand government but I would argue that they can learn, which is not the case with the present system.

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