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Republicans love to cry wolf

Dana Milbank and I were thinking the same thing. Republican protests against the health-care reform package have the same apocalyptic ring we've heard before. And they never, ever, ever work. The only difference is that Milbank is smarter and reached deeper into history to prove that it's not a winning strategy.

Milbank highlights the kill-Social-Security crusade that was the basis of Republican presidential nominee Alf Landon's campaign in 1936. He deemed the now-revered entitlement "a 'cruel hoax,' a 'folly' and a case of 'bungling and waste.'" And he said, “We must repeal...The Republican Party is pledged to do this.” Landon lost. Big time.

My historical knowledge only went back to 1993, when President Clinton pushed through one of the largest tax increases in the nation's history as part of a deficit-reduction plan. Republican rhetoric was similarly overheated, as Daily Kos founder and publisher Markos Moulitsas conveniently reminded us a year ago in a piece for The Hill. “This is really the Dr. Kevorkian plan for our economy,” intoned Rep. Christopher Cox. (R-Calif.). “I believe this will lead to a recession next year," said Rep. Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.). "This is the Democrat machine’s recession, and each one of them will be held personally accountable.” And Rep. Dick Armey (R-Texas) warned, "Like so many of the president’s past promises, deficit reduction will be another cruel hoax.”

Yes, the following year the Democrats did lose control of the House for the first time since 1954 and Gingrich became its speaker. But the economic hellfire that was predicted never materialized. In fact, Clinton was easily reelected and his deficit-reduction plan led to one of the largest economic expansions ever in the U.S. There was actually a surplus when President George W. Bush assumed the Oval Office. We're all painfully aware of what happened next.

Anyway, here we are on the eve of the historic vote on health-care reform in the House, and there's Republican minority leader Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) promising "to do everything that we can do to make sure that this bill never, ever, ever passes.”

I can't wait to see this clip on a perpetual loop at the height of midterm election mania this fall. This bill is by no means perfect. But if it passes and the immediate benefits ("No refusals of insurance coverage due to preexisting conditions. No arbitrary increases in insurance premiums. Coverage for 31 million Americans who are now uninsured.") prove as popular as they are needed, Boehner will rue the day he made such a passionate yet overwrought declaration -- like other Republicans before him.

By Jonathan Capehart  | March 19, 2010; 9:16 PM ET
Categories:  Capehart  | Tags:  Jonathan Capehart  
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Next: Health care isn't like civil rights


Ah, but Jonathan...

We are getting so much more that mere healthcare reform for this year of travail.

I knew, after Bush and the republicans that gave him everything he asked for, I would never vote for another republican for even dog catcher, they were all sick cowards that would not even admit the mess they made and try to get it cleaned up.

Now, everyone knows it.

You do know, do you not, that Tom Tancredo stood before the entire CPAC convention, and said that the only reason we have Barack Obama as President was because we had done away with the literacy test for black people to vote.

Every republican hopeful was there, lined up to make their pitch, not a single republican - not even the candidates who would need black and Hispanic votes to win, got up and left.

So its not just trashing the stimulus and lying about it while they bragged at home how much good it would do; or how they pretended they had nothing to do with it and no input while it gave them many of their ideas, or the gawdalful lies they have told about health care reform, the threats to put a hold on any democrat that votes for it if they are ever in need of Senate approval; the racist signs, jokes, comments, and behavior, the terrible names they've called our President, and the bazillion attacks on our First Lady....

It is the absolute refusal to lift a finger when their nation and its people were in dire need...the arrogance to say out loud that if they can keep this President from accomplishing anything, they will have a better chance to getting the White House and both houses of Congress back; the craven plan to benefit by deliberately prolonging the suffering of Americans who have lost homes, jobs, savings and retirement funds and were being eaten alive by a rapacious health insurance industry.

They should be ashamed to ask us for anything, let alone a vote. They ought to voluntarily give back their salary, and remove themselves from their lavish insurance plans we pay for.

They have no shame.

Posted by: dutchess2 | March 20, 2010 12:35 AM | Report abuse

Dutchess2... I will agree with everything you are saying. The Democrats have to find a way to successfully get this message out. Right now the GOP -as the have always been- are extremely successful at fear mongering. Crying communism, socialism, and now progressivism will always be successful when most the the voting public is uninterested in politics. I doubt anyone can quantitatively show that the public is actually well informed about this bill (political science publication have been showing the opposite since Miller and Stoke created a model to test voter awareness in 1964). Most believe that talking points they want to believe.

The Dems may lose the House in the upcoming election but when this bill slowly takes affect the American public will like it and the GOP will have egg on there face just like Medicare and Social Security.

The GOP is a master at marketing. Nothing like be successful at convincing the American republic they are for the working class, when it is the party of Wall Street.

Posted by: grubbsbl | March 20, 2010 12:49 AM | Report abuse

I agree wholeheartedly with Mr. Capehart and especially Dutchess2. You might think that the GOP would eventually find that their sky-is-falling tactic would be ineffective and that they might have to come up with ideas beyond tax cuts to solve all ills. But that appears to be wrong. The Republicans are very effective as the party out of power because that position encourages a reactionary response to every issue. Even a small proposal evokes an alarmist analysis of what-ifs that are hyperbolized into the mother of all threats to life-as-we-know-it. While the democrats/progressives/humanists see problems that call for solutions, the GOP/conservatives see problems that will only be made worse if government gets involved. The liberals believe that government serves the people but the conservatives believe that government "serfs" the people. You can almost classify people as liberal or conservative on the basis of how they describe a glass half-filled with water. The libs will respond that the glass has enough water to give 2 or 3 people a little satisfaction from a couple of sips. But the conservative will grab the glass and claim that someone has already taken half of his water away from him.

Posted by: wilsonjmichael | March 20, 2010 7:39 AM | Report abuse

The commonweal has suffered lately due to the laziness endemic to 21st century journalism, which is too bad. On the bright side, I think some of these lazy journalists -- Milbank is a perfect example -- are beginning to figure out that exposing Republican mendacity is really, really easy -- the lies are just, well, *lying* there. You could get a hell of a story without having to do too much work. I hope to see the creeps, clowns and cowards of the GOP on a running retreat by November of 2012, if not 2010.

Posted by: hellslittlestangel1 | March 20, 2010 8:46 AM | Report abuse

Jonathan - A good piece bringing in History of previousl legislation and the problems that came with passing it. Unfortunately, the republicans don't care about health care legislation in any form -- their goal is NOT about health care legislation THEIR GOAL IS TO GET OBAMA OUT OF THE WHITE HOUSE -- Jim Dement let that cat out of the bag months ago -- his words "health care will be Obama's waterloo".

Posted by: phyllisr5 | March 20, 2010 9:14 AM | Report abuse

One cannot disagree with the wonderful comments of Dutchess2, particularly the reference to the Democrats loving to cry racism, and the obvious fact cited that none of Democrats' entitlement programs have been funded.

Posted by: johnson0572 | March 20, 2010 11:37 AM | Report abuse

Except this health care bill will guarantee that we have both higher taxes and higher deficits as far as the eye can see. In addition, young people get a two-fer. They also get to pay higher insurance premiums, to subsidize older people like me. Young people, Obama and the Democrats just screwed you.

Posted by: bjb57 | March 20, 2010 12:56 PM | Report abuse

Or, more likely, knowing the Republicans, Boehner will simply deny he ever said anything like that and the corporate mainstream media will print his denial along with a statement that "some Democrats say he did say it."

Posted by: ejs2 | March 20, 2010 1:08 PM | Report abuse

There will be resistance to socialism .

Posted by: borntoraisehogs | March 20, 2010 1:15 PM | Report abuse

There will be resistance to socialism .

Posted by: borntoraisehogs | March 20, 2010 1:15 PM | Report abuse


like what? you know there are elections held every coupla years to decide things, right?

sore loser.

Posted by: mikem1 | March 20, 2010 3:14 PM | Report abuse

bjb57 --- You just made Capehart's case.

Posted by: bigfish2 | March 20, 2010 5:11 PM | Report abuse

If only the Republicans would have participated honestly and worked with the Democrats they could have made things so much better. Our country does not need the kind of unfair attacks and vitriol the Republicans have been using this past year. "Death Panels"? "Killing Grandma"? Please! The GOP has pushed itself so far into a corner with their poisonous rhetoric, screaming "fire!" I don't know how long it will take to recover.

But when average people eventually learn the sky didn't fall, and that reform offers them real, tangible benefits, the GOP will rue the day it pursued the path it took.

After tomorrow, every 18- to 26-year-old American now allowed to stay on his parents' insurance will become a new Democrat. No wonder the GOP is so terrified of this vote.

Posted by: hyperlexis | March 20, 2010 6:49 PM | Report abuse

I agree hyperlexis. My 22 yearold just lost her insurance because she took 8 credits instead of 9 and works part time. I look forward to youn adults being able to continue on our insurance until they find their first real job. She knows what is happening and how the Repubs would treat her as does her family. I also agree with Duchess and hope this does indeed prove the undoing of the Tan man and the rest of the hypocrites,

Posted by: Falmouth1 | March 20, 2010 9:15 PM | Report abuse

"After tomorrow, every 18- to 26-year-old American now allowed to stay on his parents' insurance will become a new Democrat. No wonder the GOP is so terrified of this vote. Posted by: hyperlexis"

Probably, however every one of those people who here their local republican crying out how he is going to repeal HCR and TAKE AWAY that insurance aren't likely to be sympathetic to the blandishments of Republican welfare for the wealthy.

But, when there turn out to be fewer Reps in Congress in 2011 on the Republican side, will the Republicans reward John with another term as minority leader? Then again, whom else have they?

Posted by: ceflynline | March 20, 2010 11:34 PM | Report abuse

Capehart is full of it. Deficit reduction only happened under Clinton because the GOP forced through a plan that reduced the deficit much sooner than the seven-year plan Clinton angled for (one that conveniently would have left much of the heavy deficit-reduction lifting for after he left office.) As for the economy, Clinton also benefited from a boom, one that later turned out to be a bubble similar to the housing one, only smaller in effect due to the fact that much of the value was speculative as opposed to the actual values of property in the housing market collapse.

The same-old "slime the GOP" comments found here demonstrate a profound ignorance matched only by its dishonesty. For years, democrats and their supporters on the left have made outlandish, slanderous accusations regarding the GOP, while engaging in their own governmental and political machinations, some of which would make Nixon envious. (The recent vote-finding in Washington state and Minnesota. Obama's state and US senate opponents' sealed court records finding their way into public. etc...)

Now we're on the verge of possibly seeing a bill passed that the majority of Americans don't want. No sensible person believes Capehart's pretentious claims about the "benefits" because sensible people know that you can't simply guarantee preexisting conditions with a wave of your magic wand. There have to be sound economic measures in place (reducing state controls, larger pools, for starters) for such a policy to not have a disparate impact on insurers. But of course, the left doesn't want private insurance to succeed. They want it to fail so they can replace it with a government system, the type that has reduced access to health care in every other country in which it has been tried. The type that can only be supported by confiscatory taxation that will dramatically reduce the overall standard of living in the US as well as personal financial freedom.

The President and Democrats in Congress have dishonestly presented this bill for a year. They continue to refuse to deal with it honestly before the American people. Every reliable poll says Americans oppose this bill and that the Democrats will suffer at the polls for it. Why do it then?

Because they know it will change the way government works in this country, just as it has in others. That's not crying wolf. That's honestly talking about what this bill means. Honesty is something the Democrats need more than one lesson in these days.

Hopefully, they'll get more than one.

Posted by: speebek | March 21, 2010 3:15 AM | Report abuse

hyperlexis doesn't seem to know a thing about honesty.

First, the bill will lead to the rationing of care. The more the government invests directly in health care, the more the health care industry will rely on government funding and ultimately government control. Rationing will occur, just as government workers for years have rationed out Medicaid by fighting off people with legitimate needs to maintain some semblance of budget solvency (I personally know people who qualified but were denied). The panels have long been a part of this so called reform and this kind of rationing is all too common in countries where socialized health care exists. The end result is that seniors are often denied meds and treatments that could prolong or enhance their lives, because they don't have the life expectancy of younger people.

As for 18-26 year olds, the fantasy Democrat membership you envision for them will vanish the moment they realize that upon leaving their parents' care they will be forced to purchase a plan of the goverment's choosing, rather than the far less expensive catastrophic care plans preferred by many healthy young Americans.

That and the fact that many on the GOP side see no problem with the extension of parents insurance to younger people, leaves me wondering just how stupid you think everyone else is?

If that's your idea of honesty, it needs an extreme makeover.

Posted by: speebek | March 21, 2010 3:24 AM | Report abuse

There should be no reason why young adult Students entering college to remain continuously covered by their parent's health insurance a maximum 4 years or less until they marry, graduate or quit. They are still being supported by their parent's. Although it should not include graduate schools.

Posted by: ddoiron1 | March 21, 2010 10:44 AM | Report abuse

Yes, for those who pay attention and try to stay abreast I can't see that any of the aforementioned will do anything but vote Democrat in November. As mentioned by others above thousands, if not, millions will find out how this health care reform will help THEM.

So, we will see who will win in November: the Know-nothings or the health reform voters.

Posted by: GerriM | March 22, 2010 4:19 AM | Report abuse

we had 8 years of Clinton and 12 years of the Bushes. I see the country in worse shape than it ever was. My wife and I make 80k a year and can barely afford to live in Jersey with our 18 year old hs senior. Our house is paid off too. My union job has gone from good to terrible. The union is a mere shell of itself. I have to work 2 jobs and my wife a part time job so we can live in our paid off cape in Jersey. Politicians aren't going to make difference.

Posted by: think11 | March 22, 2010 8:19 AM | Report abuse

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