Thursday, September 27, 2012

It’s the Ideas, Stupid!

On the morning of November 7th, the odds are increasing that President Obama will be reelected by a comfortable electoral margin if not a comfortable popular vote margin.  A few polls may be flawed, but the preponderance of the numbers is making the argument against his winning a bit hollow and desperate.  I would caution anyone about overconfidence since there is still a steady downpour of SuperPAC ads waiting to drown us, but if I were a betting man (and I am not), it’s looking like 4 more years.

I have already blogged about the trial excuses being floated by various GOP apologists.  More sample excuses are sure to be trotted out as the weeks go by.  One of the great tragedies of this election may be that the conservative movement in America will blame their candidate for the loss of the White House against a vulnerable incumbent.  While the candidate and his flawed campaign strategy/execution will rightly deserve much of the blame, I believe it would be a mistake to argue that a different candidate could have won while espousing the same policy prescriptions.

The Republican governing philosophy and GOP’s ideas will cost the party the election.

This is clear on a range of issues, from immigration to war to taxes to the social safety net, where the majority of the country prefers the Democratic approaches when stripped down to their bare essentials.  I don’t know what mythical Republican could win on a platform of tax cuts for the wealthy, tax increases for the poor, the conversion of Medicare to vouchers, and the acceptance with a shrug of 50+ million citizens without access to health care.

Health care offers a good example of where the candidate, Romney, has tried to sell the GOP position with disastrous results.

On 60 Minutes, Mitt Romney towed the conservative movement’s talking points on the uninsured and coverage in America.  They have emergency rooms therefore they have health care:

Pelley: Does the government have a responsibility to provide health care to the 50 million Americans who don't have it today?

Romney: Well, we do provide care for people who don't have insurance, people -- we -- if someone has a heart attack, they don't sit in their apartment and die. We pick them up in an ambulance, and take them to the hospital, and give them care. And different states have different ways of providing for that care.

Pelley: That's the most expensive way to do it.

Romney: Well the--

Pelley: In an emergency room.

Mitt Romney the Man knows this is ridiculous on economic grounds, on practical grounds and on moral grounds, but Mitt Romney the GOP candidate for President has to try to sell it anyway.

On the economics, a subject the party believes is one of their strengths, it's the most expensive method of treating patients.   It would be less expensive, and more medically effective, to pay for preventative care so that people don't have to wait for a medical emergency to seek treatment.  Romney knows this.  He’s a businessman.  He’s seen the numbers.

On the economics, when the sick cannot pay their hospital bills, how are those costs ‘redistributed’?  To you, me and everyone else, either through higher premiums or our tax dollars.  So we foot the bill to cover the most expensive and least medically recommended way to treat health issues in America.  Romney knows this.  He’s a businessman.  He’s seen the numbers.

But he has to try to sell it anyway.

On practical grounds, pretending that an emergency room is guaranteed health care in America is willfully ignorant.    For those with chronic ailments, visiting the emergency room to control or treat their condition, be it diabetes or kidney problems, is a non-starter.  If you have cancer, you are not going to drop by the emergency room every time you need chemotherapy.  When you have a communicable disease such as chicken pox, waiting until the sores are unbearable to seek treatment means many others are needlessly infected in the interim.  Counting emergency room visits as a national health care solution is impractical.

Romney knows this.  He’s a businessman.  He’s seen the numbers.

But he has to try to sell it anyway.

On moral grounds, the United States remains the last industrialized nation that does not provide health care to its citizens.  Corporate medicine pushes the theory that profiting from illness and the denial of care is part of our rugged individualism, part of our national character, and something to be celebrated and embraced.  To dismantle this for-profit model is to dismantle capitalism and replace it with socialism.  What are you, a Commie?  Ironically, explaining to an interviewer that our citizens have health care because they can go to an emergency room in case of a heart attack is not only socialized medicine, it’s expensive socialized medicine.

Romney knows this.  He’s a businessman.  He’s seen the numbers.

But he has to try to sell it anyway.

I know that Romney knows these things because he studied the issue and crafted a solution.  He’s a businessman.  He knows the guarantee of emergency room coverage ought to be supplemented by bringing Americans into the insurance system.  Here’s what he said a long, long time ago, back when professional referees rules the sidelines of the NFL (2010 on the Morning Joe program):

“It doesn’t make a lot of sense for us to have millions and millions of people who have no health insurance, and yet who can go to the emergency room and get entirely free care for which they have no responsibility, particularly if they’re people who have sufficient means to pay their own way.  And so we said, look, we’ve got an idea. Let’s take all the money we’ve been spending to give out free care — paying hospitals who give out free care — and help people who can’t afford it buy insurance.”

So when he says dumb stuff like emergency room care represents health coverage for everyone, maybe it’s not Mitt’s fault.   Maybe it’s the message, not the messenger.  Not sure if any candidate could put lipstick on this pig of a health care philosophy.

I have said it before and I’ll say it again.  It’s Romney’s party that scares me, and if he loses, someone should blame his party’s ideas.  I believe those ideas are what should be repealed and replaced on Day One, November 7th.

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