Wanted: a GOP that's not scared of progress in health care

Bill Clinton was very successful in taking ideas from all sides and incorporating them into successful, popular programs like welfare reform. (He also balanced the budget and left office with budget surpluses as far as the eye could see –more on that at the bottom.) It drove Republicans nuts to see what they considered to be their own ideas co-opted by the Democrats.

In the last couple years Republicans at the national level have seemed to adopt a policy nearly opposite of what Clinton did. Not only do Republicans reject Democratic ideas, they increasingly reject ideas that once had bipartisan support or that originated in the GOP. The recent beatings that Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich have taken over health care from their own party are indicative of this tendency. Romney understood what was in store for him and tried to dance around it. Gingrich, meanwhile, is still living in the Clinton era. He got confused and thought the old rules still applied. We’ll see if he’s able to jolt himself into the current era or even change the tenor of the debate.

The American College of Physicians finds itself unexpectedly caught up in the new Republican orthodoxy. From the ACP Advocate blog:

You’d think that ensuring that there will be enough primary care doctors would not become a partisan issue. If you are a Republican congressman from Texas, or a Democratic Senator from California, you’d want your constituents to have access to a primary care doctor, right?

Apparently not: in the hyper-polarized and ideological world in which we now live, even modest steps to support primary care have been caught up in the worst kind of partisanship. The Washington Post reported on Sunday that funding for a new expert commission authorized by the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which was to examine barriers to careers in primary care, has been blocked by Republicans.

I’m with the ACP on this one. The Republican stance is damaging the country and although it’s been effective politics for the last year or so, observations such as the ACP’s make me think it’s starting to backfire.

May 19, 2011

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