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.
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