The latest Gallup poll gives some indication of the reaction of most Americans to the health care bill the Democrats have rammed down the throat of the revolted American people. They are outraged. At least, the Republicans are outraged. Democrats rather like it, but of course they would, wouldn’t they? Independents seem pretty evenly divided.
The Republicans made a calculated gamble that they if they presented a united front of refusal the bill would probably fail, and they would benefit. This was a reasonable bet: Intrade betting was offering worse than even odds of passage until early March, and later in the month odds dripped below 50% twice.
The gamble failed. What now? A crusade for total repeal and return to the status quo? Not bloody likely. Too much of the bill is simultaneously popular and consistent with things Republicans have already advocated.
Plan B: a cynical panderfest. Republicans have always stood for smaller government, so they propose to spend more on Medicare and have bigger subsidies for student loans. They have stood for fiscal responsibility, so they propose to cut taxes, cut taxes, cut taxes and cut taxes without cutting spending.
Now, the Platonic ideal of a Republican leader could argue, justly, that the new taxes on high income households will discourage investment and hard work and violate the idea that Medicare should be structured as social insurance rather than a redistributive levy.
If we eliminate that, however, we eliminate a big chunk of the funding for the program. The Platonic ideal leader would refuse to worse the deficit and make our children effectively pay for our benefits.
That leaves two choices: greatly reduce access to affordable health insurance, or raise taxes on middle-income households. That's the honest argument to make when Republicans run on "replace and repeal".
It will be interesting to see if the Republicans propose either, or something more expedient.