EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


December 9, 2013

Column: Parties must cooperate to make health care law work

As kids, we learn to stop throwing rocks, choose up sides for a ball game and get on with the task of growing up. As adults, we regress to childish ways but hopefully recognize the futility of this and assume a more reasonable posture to solve problems.

The GOP embraced the words of Mitch McConnell and created a new paradigm for governing or, more accurately, not governing. Opposition to anything Obama proposes doesn’t qualify as governance. Reducing government by pursuing its failure makes collateral casualties of those living on the margins.

The lineage of Obamacare is exhibit A in indicting the GOP for its abdication of responsibility to govern. The Heritage Foundation championed the individual mandate as an alternative to “Hillarycare” during Clinton’s presidency and it became a core element of Romney’s Massachusetts plan. It became a bad idea when it was adopted by Obama. In attacking the mandate, the GOP walked away from their bedrock principle of personal responsibility.

The GOP enshrined the words of Reagan -- government is the problem not the solution -- as the north star of their governing philosophy. It is looked to for guidance on budgetary issues with the exception of Defense spending and anything favoring the wealthy. Branding the ACA as socialism -- a government takeover of health care -- mischaracterizes a law which sets up a market place so those without health care can afford it. Additionally, it protects against “junk” plans the GOP feels serve a purpose.

The GOP has a siege mentality reflexively opposing anything Obama favors. Republicans under threat of being “primaried” by tea party clones -- like an array of nodding bobble heads -- have adopted obstruction as their default position. Some do this more willingly than others with moderate republicans left to wander the streets seeking shelter.

For the tea party, victory in the government shutdown and the fiscal cliff part 2 would have been the denial of health care to 35 million Americans. There needs to be a new way of characterizing this kind of “victory.” It’s not a pyrrhic victory -- a victory so costly that it’s empty and meaningless. It’s not a moral victory -- not in a Christian sense. Few would argue that denial of health care to people is very Christian. It is a kind of “Darwinian” victory where those who have the power prevail. Effectively, it says to those without health care “we got ours, now don’t bother us.” Ayn Rand could get behind that.

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