By John Aloysius Farrell, Thomas Jefferson Street blog
In the spirit of the holidays, I offer these condolences to conservatives and Republicans (for if the GOP's recent defense of wasteful Medicare spending proved anything, it's that these two terms are no longer synonymous) who may otherwise have a hard time digesting Senate passage of the healthcare bill with their Christmas goose.
1. The United States of America remains a proud capitalist country. Forget the "first step" toward "creeping socialism" nonsense. Given their heart's true desire for a state-run, single-payer healthcare system, the elected representatives of the national Left (and in particular the pragmatists in the White House) accepted this bitter reality, and based their biggest reform since 1965 on the country's private insurance system.
2. Your stock portfolios are fatter. Especially for those who, while griping and whining about a government takeover of healthcare, just happen to own chunks of the healthcare companies whose shares soared at the news of Senate passage. Traditional Republican constituencies—the insurance industry, doctors, and the like—may actually do quite well under the new law.
3. We are getting a grip on costs. The Republicans have had it both ways in the last year—griping about debt while defending federally subsidized mall-walking and fitness club memberships for the elderly. But packaged in the bill are very real cuts in Medicare, and mechanisms that can make some serious reductions in federal entitlement spending in the future. Witness the nervousness of the American Medical Association, which endorsed the bill but worried aloud about just who will get squeezed by its long-term cost savings. There will come a time when a president and Congress will quietly use these tools to make necessary trims and relieve the federal deficit.
4. You won a round on abortion. It is always hard to discern the truth in the competing hysterics of professional interest groups about anything that has to do with terminating pregnancies, but it seems that the Left is crying louder these days about how the new healthcare system will make it tougher on women seeking abortions.
5. The cocklebur states will make out like bandits. As always, the nation's sparsely populated (i.e., Republican) states will benefit, disproportionately, from this new federal entitlement. Even before Ben Nelson and Mary Landrieu pulled off their truly marvelous heists on behalf of the citizens of Nebraska and Louisiana, it is safe to wager that those who cry the most about federal spending will continue in their proud tradition of taking more money—in farm and sugar subsidies, pork barrel projects, and other goodies—from Washington than they return in taxes.
So cheer up, wingers. In defeat, your base is happily outraged and united. Despite victory, the liberal base is sour and divided. And the public's memory is short. It won't be long before your House and Senate office staffs are winning you thousands of votes helping grateful constituents claim the benefits of this evil law you've fought so bitterly. In a few years you'll be defending it, like Medicare.