According to liberals, the GOP “kamikaze club” is “hellbent” on repealing Obamacare, even if that means telling sick people to “die quickly.” President Obama compared conservatives who disagree with him to Iranian mullahs, and his aides said they were terrorists (“people with a bomb strapped to their chest,” is how former Communications Director Dan Pfieffer put it.
But now in charge of both chambers in Congress and the presidency, Republicans are looking to defuse Obama’s disastrous health care experiment in an orderly way.
Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), newly elected chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, has taken an early lead, explaining to reporters that he supports funding Obamacare cost sharing subsidies during a transition period to ensure a smooth path from the death spiral to the GOP’s reform vision.
“I would be more flexible and could swallow some short-term heartburn for longer-term fiscal responsibility,” Meadows said.
Meadows stance is worth reflecting on for several reasons.
First, it’s the right thing to do. Millions of people who are subject to the laws Congress passes are innocent victims of ill-conceived left wing ideas. Change in policies brings disruptions to people’s lives, and it’s important to minimize that where it’s possible to do so.
Second, although of course he’ll never get credit for it from the Left, and although you already knew this, it shows Republican opposition is not some nefarious scheme to get “a huge tax cut to the rich,” as Democrats apparently still in denial about the election results have alleged.
News flash: The GOP isn’t “obsessed” with repealing Obamacare – the American people who have to live under it are. Republicans who now hold the reins are acting in an extremely deliberate fashion to bring people the change they voted for.
Third, this is a courageous stance for Meadows to take. As chairman of the Freedom Caucus, Meadows certainly doesn’t need me to vouch for his conservative record. But given the intense dislike of the law, coupled with the lack of a backbone by certain Republicans on the issue from time to time (Sens. Bill Cassidy , R-La., and Susan Collins (R-Me.), I’m looking at you), Meadows knows it’s possible people could misconstrue his position.
Fourth, it’s the conservative stance. One of conservatism’s foremost political theorists, Edmund Burke, urged humility about man’s capacity to understand the wisdom embedded in existing institutions, cautioning about the unintended consequences of rapid change. The drafters of Obamacare certainly could have used a lesson or two from Burke as they were wreaking havoc on the U.S. healthcare system and millions of people’s lives. But Republicans should heed that wisdom in turn as they work, years later, to undo the damage.
Fifth, it’s the smart stance politically – the in long run. Most people aren’t rigidly ideological or dogmatic in evaluating how Republicans and Democrats govern. The time they suddenly lost their health insurance plan is going to matter a lot to them even if things eventually improve.
When you’re concerned about the high-level, abstract arguments about how to design the system, it’s easy to forget that execution can be as or more important to whether the people whose lives you’re trying to improve consider the change an improvement.
For a reminder of this, consider the disastrous roll-out of Healthcare.gov, which greatly harmed Democrats’ political message even though the inability of HHS to correctly implement a website doesn’t necessarily mean their policies aren’t good ideas. (The two are definitely related, however, given the general incompetence of the government on Healthcare.gov and countless other things).
For these reasons, Meadows and others trying to craft a smooth transition out of Obamacare should be commended. It’s the right thing to do because it limits the disruptions in regular people’s lives and the smart thing politically for Republicans given the trust of voters to change the status quo.