The costs of saying 'no'
David Frum on the cost of choosing ineffectual obstructionism rather than negotiations:
Two reports last night of what the GOP’s “No, no, no” policy has wrought:
1) Instead of a healthcare reform to slow cost increases, Democrats in the Senate seem to be converging upon an expansion of Medicare to include age 59-64 year-olds and an expansion in Medicaid up to some higher multiple of the poverty limit. You might wonder why they didn’t do this before: expanding existing programs is always easier than creating new ones. So now instead of a new system that attempts to control costs, we’re just going to have a bigger and more expensive version of the old system, with a few tinkers around the edges. Republicans could have been architects of improvement, instead we made ourselves impotent spectators as things get radically worse. Plus – the bad new Democratic proposal will likely be less unpopular with voters than their more promising earlier proposal. Nice work everybody.
2) House and Senate conferees last night rejected a proposal to deny EPA funds to enforce its new powers over greenhouse gasses. So instead of an economically rational approach to carbon abatement – a carbon tax or even a cap-and-trade system stripped of the abuses and boondoggles attached to it by House Democrats – we’re going to have the least rational approach: bureaucratic enforcement.
The furious rejectionist frenzy of the past 12 months is exacting a terrible price upon Republicans. We’re getting worse and less conservative results out of Washington than we could have negotiated, if we had negotiated.
To paraphrase Omar, if you come at the bill, you'd best not miss. It's one thing to actually kill the legislation. It's a whole other to unsuccessfully oppose it. The result there is a bill that you had no influence on, except to make it more liberal and politically cautious by scaring the majority away from making any hard decisions.
The upside to this strategy may be that you pick up some seats. or maybe you don't, at least as compared with a world in which you acted like a party of grown-ups. Either way, the other party's achievements remain, and you may even be left defending them. As Frum concludes, "even if we gain seats in 2010, the actions of this congressional session will not be reversed. Shrink Medicare after it has expanded? Hey -- we said we’d never do that."
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