The Republicans Eat Their Own
And other thoughts on Haslam's failed health initiative
| |Death to the legislation, which arrived on a stretcher anyway, came quickly. Gov. Haslam's plan to join ObamaCare, and insure hundreds of thousands of Tennesseans at virtually no cost to the state, came loaded with the political baggage of being tied to Obama. Tennessee's Tea Partiers seethed. Conservatives raged. The right-wing came unstuck.
To those in the fact-based community—moderate Republicans, businesspeople, those in the health care community—the facts were inarguable and arrived at a different analysis: at little to no cost, hospitals would stay in business and hundreds of millions of dollars would be pumped into the state's economy.
What's not to love?
On top of that, there was a public policy argument to tug on the heartstrings. For poor people, this was a solution. The plan would add a measure of comfort to thousands of the impoverished, and hey, isn't that what we humans are all about?
In the end, though, as even Haslam seemed to suggest when he called the session together, the death knell to the plan was its association with a Democratic president, one who is despised by many of our state lawmakers. Yes, the proposal might have seemed a no-brainer. But it is also true that no-brainer arguments are hard to intellectually absorb when you don't have a brain to begin with.
When the Senate was called into session to consider the Haslam plan, the preacher reading the invocation asked God "that we would not be forced into these edicts from Washington D.C." Instead the preacher prayed that we "let the people know that our (healthcare) coverage is the same as with Moses and the children of Israel when they went through the wilderness with only the divine providence of almighty God."
What is one to say?
Have we lost it?
Maybe, to extend the preacher's primitive religiosity, we should all abandon our health insurance. Maybe we should all go Paleo and descend into some pre-historic living undertaking, in which we commence to eating locusts, and commuting to Jimmy Kelly's after work on camels, and doing without any modern healthcare whatsoever because, darnit, if Moses could get by without a Blue Cross Card, then we all can.
Were one to identify positives, I can find one, optimist that I am.
Opportunities are always rare for Democrats. But here is some advice to the new Democratic Party chairwoman, Mary Mancini: Affix sign to door. "The Democratic Party is Open for Business."
Tell every health care company in Tennessee—and Nashville is ground zero for corporate health care in the United States—that the NEW Democratic Party here would like to see health care endeavors thrive, but that Republicans do not. Spread the same message to those in the construction industries, to small business owners, to Chambers of Commerce, and to doctors and nurses everywhere.
Now is an opportunity to announce on friendly terms the Democrats' willingness to work with business, because in a strangely cannibalistic way, the Republicans are avariciously chowing down on the hands that feed them. The mostly small-town, non-business-minded, religiously occluded conservatives in the party are in control; the more urban, urbane, business-oriented Republicans are left to suffer the consequences.
The moneyed poo-bahs of the GOP have taken a big hit. So Mary, go offer them a home. At the very least, outline a partnership where the quacks and the crazies aren't in control any longer.