The parties that waged war against Medicare in the 40s and 60s, and the Clinton Health Care Plan in the 90s are way too quiet right now in the face of an attack on their industry that is arguably much worse than those instances. David Leonhardt asks why so halfhearted?
The opponents I’m talking about include almost every major health care interest group: the lobbying groups for doctors, nurses and hospitals as well as advocates for patients with cancer, diabetes, lung disease, heart disease or birth defects. Each understands that the bill would deprive millions of Americans of insurance. Each has criticized the bill, and some, including AARP, have done more, like organizing phone calls.
But they have not come close to the sort of public campaign that would put intense pressure on senators.
Because even in the face of awful legislation from people with wrongheaded goals that will do scads of damage across the horizon, everybody is afraid of Republicans and nobody is afraid of Democrats.
… the groups are wary of attacking the Republican Party, given its current power. “We’re living in a world in which it’s just Republican votes,” one lobbyist told me. Speaking loudly against the bill risks alienating powerful politicians — and risks making the health care groups look partisan.
Republicans embrace partisanship. A byproduct of that is that it makes their opponents look partisan, which makes those more high minded people uncomfortable, so they equivocate when they need to embrace the moment in order to defeat the enemy.
Republicans are acting like a gang, a criminal enterprise based on complete loyalty to the gang at all costs. It is unprecedented. The reaction to it has to be unprecedented too. People and groups have to be as fearless as the Republicans are. Not as unethical or disgusting. But unafraid of the consequences of standing up.