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Robert J. Elisberg Headshot

GOP Applies for Health Care for Self-Inflicted Wounds

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Putting all your eggs in one basket is a good thing when it's Easter. In politics, though? Not so much.

The Republican Party put all its eggs in the "Tear Down President Barack Obama and Defeat Health Care Reform" basket. This was a questionable action at best. At worst, they could end up breaking their own kneecaps.

Unanimously fighting health care reform was questionable at best because few in America didn't think the health care system had to be fixed in at least some way.

But at worst - yipes.

Yipes, because the President of the United States won the election campaigning on it. Both houses of Congress won majorities campaigning on it. And from the start, polls showed that the majority of the public wanted some kind of health care reform. Including a public option.

Yet in the face of all this, the Republican Party in Congress put every single one of its fragile eggs in a single basket and chose to unanimously fight health care reform.

The bill contained over 200 Republican proposals, and Republicans still unanimously voted against it.

The GOP was simply going to do whatever they could - unanimously - to defeat health care reform and bring down President Obama. Turn "Yes, We Can" into "No, He Can't." Republicans didn't just want the seats a party out of power traditionally picks up in an off-year election. They wanted it all. Majorities in 2010. The White House in 2012. At any cost. They got greedy. They were going all in - holding just a lowly pair of threes. Everything in one basket, no matter how flimsy that basket was.

Blinded by hatred, fear and pure politics, Republicans saw only their improbable reward. They ignored the profound risk.

No doubt the Republican Party thought things were going well. They had road blocks all over health care reform. They broke the Democrats' 60-vote super majority. Polls showed the American public unhappy with gridlock in Washington, unhappy too with the health care bill - as presented to them by the GOP Message Machine.

All the eggs were in one basket.

And the basket crumbled. And all the eggs crashed.

The problem is that Republican leadership believed their own lies. They forgot that they knew there weren't actually Death Panels in the bill, that it was still illegal to get federally-funded abortions, that everyone can really keep their private insurance, that the new proposals actually brought deficit down - by eventually trillions of dollars. And forgot that the public was, in fact, for health care reform. And for the public option.

When polls showed that Americans were unhappy with the health care reform bill, GOP leadership forgot that some were unhappy because It Didn't Go Far Enough. And others were unhappy because they simply didn't understand the bill. When similar polls explained the bill, the results showed that the public was... in favor of it! Just like at the beginning.

But more, Republicans thought they had an ace up their sleeve. They ignored that they didn't even have a sleeve.

Republicans thought that once the health care reform bill passed, they could campaign on repealing it. "It" being a bill the American public supported. Because it improved their health care. Republicans thought this plan was A Winner.

Winner?

Imagine giving a new kidney to someone, and then later saying, "We'd like it back."

Campaigning on repealing health care reform would be like campaigning to repeal Social Security, Medicare or Civil Rights. Even the most radically-reactionary Republicans aren't foolish enough to do that.

Once people have health care reform - even many who were against the bill - they will be loathe to give it up. Benefits will be seen immediately. Like reduced costs of prescription medication. Like small businesses getting tax credit. Covering all children. Not allowing insurance companies to drop you because you got sick. Like letting young people stay on their parent's policy until they're 26. Right now, this year. Give that up? Take back health care reform, once someone has it? Republicans actually, really, seriously want to campaign on this.

And so they may well have snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.

Where once the GOP saw dreams of a majority in November, they may be lucky now to squeak by with that traditional handful of new seats.

You see, that whole "gridlocked Congress" and "Democrats had a majority and couldn't get anything done" thing - it's now gone. Out the window. The Democrats broke the Republican-forced gridlock. They passed the first-ever, comprehensive health care reform bill. By themselves. With no Republican support.

Republicans had a chance to claim a share of the reform. But they cut themselves out. By choice. They never even offered an alternate bill! Because they were putting all their eggs in one basket.

And the basket crumbled.

The public will now see the Democrats as alone being able to provide deeply-needed reform. And the public will now see the Republicans as the block that wants to take it away.

While Republicans are campaigning to repeal health care reform, Democrats will make the case, "Yes, the bill isn't perfect. So, elect more Democrats to get the improvements and also get the public option. That you want. If you elect Republicans, they will take away what you now have - they've told you so!"

But it's actually worse than that for Republicans. Because Republicans, who are usually so good at coming up with fake catch-phrases like "Death Taxes" made their biggest gaffe of all. Gargantuan.

You see...for the past year, Republicans have called this bill (say it all together now) - "ObamaCare."

Health care reform is now known to everyone - thanks to Republican Talking Points - forevermore as ObamaCare.

They gave President Barack Obama full name credit.

ObamaCare. ObamaCare. ObamaCare. ObamaCare.

Care.

President Barack Obama - cares.

And the Republican Party is the one who told you, who drilled it deep into your consciousness.

And the Republican Party in its blocking unanimity released Barack Obama. Faced with the reality of zero Republican support, the president finally took to the road and energized the Democratic Party. And energized himself. He kept his word to the public. He got a health care bill. And "Yes, we can" was proven. His Gallup poll numbers have already improved seven points.

The Republicans did it all to themselves. They put all their eggs in one basket. And in the end, the eggs were rotten. And the basket crumbled.