As the health overhaul debate continues, it’s clear that Republican leaders are still struggling to find a message. Granted, one prominent theme can be built around ever-present attacks on the Democratic plan’s sizeable role for the federal government as well as its burgeoning spending. Still, right-leaning commentators remain unhappy with the GOP’s attempts to reclaim the debate – in other words, the recently released GOP health bill. Some conservative activists are so restless and discontented, they plan to take to Capitol Hill today with protests planned for today.
Heritage’s Conn Carroll posts a chart that quite clearly illustrates conservative concerns about the role of government. It tracks changes in the percent of health care dollars spent by the government since 1993 and how that may change should the House version of a health overhaul become law:
And while Republican lawmakers were seeking to avoid the above scenario in their new alternative health overhaul plan, its reception contiues to get worse after an official Congressional Budget Office score was released yesterday evening.
Director Douglas Elmendorf says the bill would reduce the deficit by $68 billion between 2010-2019 and insure an additional three million people. It would also modestly reduce premiums.
Liberal commentators are pouncing – arguing that the bill covers almost no additional people and actually reduces the deficit less than the current Democratic House version.
The Washington Post’s Ezra Klein seems incredulous:
The Democrats, constrained by reality, produced a far better plan than [House Minority Leader] Boehner, who was constrained solely by his political imagination and legislative skill. This is a major embarrassment for the Republicans. It’s one thing to keep your cards close to your chest. Republicans are in the minority, after all, and their plan stands no chance of passage. It’s another to lay them out on the table and show everyone that you have no hand, and aren’t even totally sure how to play the game. The Democratic plan isn’t perfect, but in comparison, it’s looking astonishingly good.
Jonathan Cohn parses CBO’s score and concludes: “So, yes, the Republican health care bill will lower premiums overall. But many people in poor health will see their premiums go up. And many people will get lower premiums only because they’re getting inferior coverage. Meanwhile, more than 50 million people will have no insurance whatsoever.”
And some conservatives aren’t too pleased either. John Goodman of the National Center for Policy Analysis titles his post: “Republicans Show Why They Deserve to be the Minority Party.” According to Goodman, “As I’ve said before, the opposition forces inside the Beltway are in total disarray. The only thing that has mattered in the past six months has been grass roots.”
Similarly, Philip Klein of the American Spectator calls himself “unimpressed” by the proposal and says, “The GOP proposal isn’t what I would consider real reform. It’s more of a document that Republicans have put out so they can say they have some sort of health care bill that reduces premiums at a fraction of the cost of the Democrats’ bill.”
But Hot Air’s Ed Morrissey is satisfied, he writes, “For the 87% of Americans who have insurance and who overwhelmingly like the system, this is a much better prescription for real cost savings, and without the heavy government intervention that threatens the liberty and economic stability of Americans.”
In the meantime, conservative protestors from around the nation are descending on Capitol Hill in a health care event known as Operation Housecall. The event was organized by Minnesota Rep. Michelle Bachman, and as Patricia Murphy Reports, she urged demosntrators to “Go into the Capitol and find members of Congress…Don’t bring your pitchforks, bring your video cameras. And get them on record saying how they’re going to vote and why. And tell them, ‘Take your hands off my health care!’ “