Applying a single standard

APPLYING A SINGLE STANDARD…. The House Republican health care reform plan was expected to be inadequate, but it was hard to predict it’d be this bad. It’s tempting to think it was written directly by insurance industry lobbyists, but in all likelihood, even they’d probably put together a more compelling proposal.

The GOP plan does nothing for the insured, nothing for those with pre-existing conditions, and nothing for those worried about losing coverage when it’s needed most. Matt Yglesias explained that the Republican plan proposes a system that “works better for people who don’t need health care services, and much worse for people who actually are sick or who become sick in the future. It’s basically a health un-insurance policy.”

But it’s also interesting to note the process behind the policy. Tim Fernholz raised a great observation:

[A]side from not doing much, this Republican bill isn’t even remotely bipartisan. They don’t even bother to include any Democratic ideas about health-care reform. Say what you will about the Democrats’ process, they certainly included Republican ideas in a symbolic way, particularly on malpractice tort reform, and I would argue that they included conservative ideas because their plan is a compromise between the kind of government involvement favored by the left (single-payer as a prime example) and the private model preferred on the right.

It’s plainly true, of course, that this bill — which probably wouldn’t even gain much support in the Republican caucus — is another obstruction tactic from the congressional opposition, who have waited through some eight months of wide-ranging policy discussion to offer their alternative. However, I want to know why reporters who dwell on the Democrats’ lack of success in courting Republicans aren’t asking those same questions of the GOP.

Quite right. For the better part of the last three months, congressional Republicans have said lawmakers should scrap all the work that’s been done thus far (“hit the reset button”). Several GOP leaders have said they agree with “80 percent” of what Democrats have put together, so the smart course, they said, would be start over and build on those areas of agreement. More recently, Republicans have complained that Democrats haven’t sought GOP input, and have instead been legislating “behind closed doors.”

And now what do we see, aside from a truly ridiculous reform GOP plan? A proposal that was written in secret, behind closed doors, without input from Democrats. The “80 percent” of the reform policy that Republicans said they liked? It’s gone. Areas on which Democrats have been willing to make concessions? They’re gone, too. The GOP desire to advance a “bipartisan” plan? Like sand though an hourglass.

The political establishment has told us incessantly throughout the year that health care reform has to be “bipartisan” to be legitimate. I’ve long found the demands nonsensical, but now that there’s an actual Republican reform alternative, will the same critics decry the GOP approach? Will the David Broders of the world call out Republicans for ignoring bipartisan efforts, and producing a proposal, in secret, that no sane legislative body would find credible?

Or is it finally obvious that Republican officials are fundamentally opposed to health care reform and the expectations of “bipartisanship” were always a misguided daydream?