OPINION: Dear politicians, tell us what you’re for
Anniston Star (AL)
June 24--Trying to tell Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., how to do politics is like offering pointers to Nick Saban on how to coach a football team. Both are masters and need advice from no one, thank you very much.
McConnell is credited with organizing the Republican's lock-step opposition to Barack Obama after his 2008 presidential victory. "The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president," McConnell famously said at the start of Obama's term.
The senator missed on the one-term goal, but he scored major victories along the way. Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch owes his appointment to McConnell, who denied Obama the chance to replace the seat left vacant when Justice Antonin Scalia died in early 2016.
The passage of Obama's signature legislation -- the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare -- played a huge part in McConnell's successful run. Opposition to Obamacare has been central to Republican campaigns since it was passed in 2010.
Give us the House so we can repeal Obamacare, Republicans said, and the voters agreed in 2010.
Give us the Senate so we can repeal Obamacare, Republicans said, and the voters agreed in 2014.
Give us the White House so we can repeal Obamacare, Republicans said, and the voters agreed in 2016.
Yet, there's a difference between politicking and governing.
Obamacare's replacement is deep in the legislative process. A House version -- the American Health Care Act (AHCA) -- passed last month. A nonpartisan congressional analysis estimates it would cost 23 million Americans health insurance, a figure so shocking even President Donald Trump called the bill "mean."
Fresh polling from the University of Maryland'sProgram for Public Consultation reports 63 percent of residents in heavily Republican congressional districts oppose the bill. Across the nation, only 31 percent favor it.
A recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll found just 16 percent of Americans called the House bill a "good idea." It's a "bad idea," according to 48 percent of respondents. For the sake of comparison, the same poll found 41 percent called Obamacare a "good idea" and 38 percent called it a "bad idea."
The Kaiser Health Tracking Poll found that "larger shares say the cost of health care for them and their family (45 percent), their ability to get and keep health insurance (34 percent), and the quality of their own health care will get worse if Congress passes the AHCA (34 percent)."
McConnell released the Senate's proposal to replace Obamacare last week. Analysts reported that it varies only slightly from the House version, and in many ways may be worse. Advocates for the poor in Alabama as well as representatives of state hospitals predicted the bill would severely strain the finances of health-care facilities. A Congressional Budget Office analysis of the Senate bill is still pending.
So, we are back to an old political truth: Saying what you're against is easy. Saying what you're for is hard.
Americans would have been better served if candidates ran on policy specifics and not merely hollow talking points. Campaigns would take on a completely different tone: You want to replace Obamacare? OK, tell us more, and be specific, please. What's your plan? How much will it cost? What are the tradeoffs?
These sorts of questions tend to get answered eventually. Polling on Obamacare's replacement indicate much of the public has received answers it doesn't like. It's time to move from politicking to governing.
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