POLITICS
03/18/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

McCain Economist: GOP Will Lose Without Alternative Health Care Bill

The McCain campaign's senior economist said on Monday that the Republican Party will lose the health care debate unless it presents one, comprehensive alternative plan to compare with Democratic-led effort.

Douglas Holtz-Eakin, who was the main spokesperson on health care matters for the Arizona Republican during the 2008 presidential election, applauded individual Republicans for putting forth "good policies" that would promote individual markets for coverage. He even noted that there is a political benefit to simply opposing Democratic legislation.

But, he added, "I do think that it is beneficial for Republicans as a whole to have a consensus alternative... Collectively we lose if we don't provide an alternative."

Holtz-Eakin's comments came during a telephone briefing with reporters on Monday, just one day after House Minority Leader John Boehner pledged that the Republican Party would produce an actual piece of legislation that would be scored by the Congressional Budget Office.

"I'm glad to see this happening and I'm looking forward to the particulars when they come out," said Holtz-Eakin, who noted that he had discussed reform with Republicans in both the House and the Senate.

It has been more than 135 days since House Republicans had promised to provide a health care alternative.

The one-time McCain economist was thrust back into the throes of the health care debate earlier on Monday morning after the Washington Post published a piece revealing that he himself is running out of extensions on his employer-based health insurance and, because of a pre-existing condition, faces the possibility of exorbitant costs for an individual plan.

Nevertheless, Holtz-Eakin stressed that the GOP should continue its commitment to reform based more around individual markets than simply an expansion or restructuring of the employer-based system. "A correct statement of what we proposed in the campaign is that we wanted... to provide individuals the same subsidy for private insurance [as] those who got it from their employers," he said. "No one argued that simply giving someone a tax credit was enough."