On healthcare: Be careful what you wish for, Republicans

Ted Cruz
Ted Cruz

WASHINGTON, November 14, 2013 —Someone should remind Republicans trying to delay the implementation of ObamaCare of the saying ‘be careful what you wish for, you just might get it.’

The Senator Ted Cruz wing of the Republican Party made a monumental mistake in seeking to shut the government down to eliminate or delay the so-called Affordable Health Care Act. The wise thing would have been to simply let it take effect. One or two things would happen. One possibility is that it would work, in which case 40 million uninsured fellow Americans would get coverage under a more cost effective plan.

On the other hand, it very well may come crashing down, in which case, there would be a tremendous backlash against the President and the Democratic Party.

Letting the plan go into effect was the wiser thing to do from both a political and policy perspective. It didn’t take a mathematics savant to figure out that no matter how much you jumped up and down and kicked and screamed, you simply were not going to have enough votes within the Senate to de-fund this program.

Just at the time that the implementation of the program was crashing and burning, the Republicans were taking this historic negative off the front page and were instead earning the ire of the electorate by closing down the government. All Senator Cruz wound up doing was hurting the Republican brand even further than it was already had been. More significantly, he made it that more difficult to actually change the Act.

The only way to overhaul the plan would be to get a super-majority of Republicans in both the House and the Senate. But the only way for that to happen is for the public to see the program collapse. If they don’t see it fail, they have no one to get mad at. What good does it do the Republican Party to have the people ticked off at them as the midterm elections approach? This should have been a huge gain for the Republicans, given a continuously dragging economy and no real victories from the Obama agenda. The stars and moons were aligning for a smashing Republican victory in 2014.

Then again, it is possible that millions losing their healthcare could still overshadow the folly of trying to shut down the government.

Why then would Republicans want to hand Democrats a life preserver by pushing for a delay in the program?

Instead Republicans should start marketing a simple alternative that the public can understand and relate to. It’s not enough to just say everyone who had and liked heir old plan can keep it. Something has to be said about the forty plus million Americans without health care and the cost this has on our economy (as in emergency room visits).

Concepts such a medical malpractice tort reform, insurance portability, and better managing costs in the last six months of life, have to be echoed over and over and over again. A crashing of ObamaCare will hurt the Democratic brand, but that alone won’t win elections for Republicans. Nor will government shutdowns.

Being able to say “I told you so”, along with a real alternative around which the Party can rally Middle America, is indeed a recipe for political and substantive success for the GOP.

Steve Levy is President of Common Sense Strategies, a political and business consulting firm. He served as Suffolk County Executive 2004-2011, and as a NYS Assemblyman

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