Republicans do not like debating healthcare reform. They are preparing to enter into the healthcare summit with one clear demand: to see the Senate Bill scrapped. This position is an inflexible one, so no compromise with Obama should be expected. Unfortunately for Republicans, the healthcare issue will not go away.
Conservatives have tried to make the case that the current bill is as objectionable to Republicans as a single-payer plan from Bernie Sanders’ office. Although the public option has been scraped in the Senate bill, Joseph Antos of AEI argues that the Democrats’ ambition to take on several different aspects of healthcare is its ultimate undoing: “Their policy objectives are too broad. You end up layering provision over provision. There are overlapping policies trying to solve and resolve problems.”
David Gratzer of the Manhattan Institute warns that Republicans still have to confront the fact that opposition to a bill is not the same as presenting policy, “Democrats lost this battle but they are winning this fundamental war.” Gratzer argues that Democrats still retain a long-term political advantage over Republicans because they have a genuine interest in the healthcare issue and have invested more intellectual resources in at least constructing healthcare proposals. Democrats, unlike most Republicans, at least recognize that the status-quo on healthcare is undesirable.
The danger is that if Republicans secure several victories in 2010, they will fall back into the pattern of asserting that while American healthcare may not be perfect, that it is still superior to other countries. The combination of a lack of Republican initiative – and an unwillingness to compromise – threatens stalemate.
Conservatives and libertarians have produced reams of literature on the problem of healthcare rationing in nations such as Canada. However, a critique of why Canadians wait months for vital surgery does not provide an actual solution to the recent college graduate who is trying to get affordable healthcare.