The consequences of a conservative ‘victory’

THE CONSEQUENCES OF A CONSERVATIVE ‘VICTORY’…. It’s certainly possible that conservatives will successfully rally enough opposition to defeat health care reform. David Frum, himself a conservative, ponders the consequences of the right “winning” the fight.

The problem is that if we do that … we’ll still have the present healthcare system. Meaning that we’ll have (1) flat-lining wages, (2) exploding Medicaid and Medicare costs and thus immense pressure for future tax increases, (3) small businesses and self-employed individuals priced out of the insurance market, and (4) a lot of uninsured or underinsured people imposing costs on hospitals and local governments.

We’ll have entrenched and perpetuated some of the most irrational features of a hugely costly and under-performing system, at the expense of entrepreneurs and risk-takers, exactly the people the Republican party exists to champion. […]

Even worse will be the way this fight is won: basically by convincing older Americans already covered by a government health program, Medicare, that Obama’s reform plans will reduce their coverage. In other words, we’ll have sent a powerful message to the entire political system to avoid at all hazards any tinkering with Medicare except to make it more generous for the already covered.

If we win, we’ll trumpet the success as a great triumph for liberty and individualism. Really though it will be a triumph for inertia. To the extent that anybody in the conservative world still aspires to any kind of future reform and improvement of America’s ossified government, that should be a very ashy victory indeed.

The thing is, I’m not at all sure the conservative world aspires to some kind of reform. Especially over the last couple of weeks, a wide variety of high-profile Republicans — Karl Rove, Rep. Pete King (R-N.Y.), Rep. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), Fox News’ Steve Doocy — have offered unambiguous defenses of the status quo, suggesting the existing system works well enough for most of the country, so it should just be left alone. Reform isn’t just unappealing, they say, it’s unnecessary.

Indeed, many of the Tea Party activists who show up at town-hall rallies like to shout to anyone who’ll listen that the United States has “the best health care system in the world.” Sen. Richard Shelby’s (R) of Alabama recently argued that the existing U.S. system is “the best … the world has ever known.”

Sure, we’ll occasionally hear John Boehner & Co. say that they’d love “bipartisan” reform — reform that wouldn’t work and wouldn’t help — but Frum seems to approach this from the perspective of a conservative who sees a broken system. His allies, by all appearances, disagree.

For nearly all of the Republican mainstream, if “ossified government” means denying a Democratic president a historic victory, rewarding the GOP’s benefactors, and improving the morale of enraged right-wing mobs, “inertia” and “ossification” can last indefinitely, regardless of what it does to the economy, the budget, or the struggling families counting on reform.

Bottom line: the right doesn’t want health care reform.