Thursday, March 18, 2010

Republicans Are Rubber, Democrats Are Glue

Rep. John Shaddegg, R-AZ, says he supports single-payer:
When Shuster accused Republicans of supporting insurers, Shadegg balked.

"No we don't! You guys keep saying that, but I'm not the guy pushing the bill that says we should compel people to buy insurance from the for-profit guys. That's the Democrats," he said.

Then, after some back and forth with Shuster: "I would support single-payer."

"You would support a government-run medical system?" Shuster asked.

"Absolutely," Shadegg said. "I would support forcing American insurance companies to compete. Right now they have a monopoly."

Shaddegg is lying, of course: last fall he likened healthcare reform to “full on Russian gulag, Soviet-style gulag health care”. It doesn't matter though. It doesn't matter that he's shamelessly confused single payer with the public option. It doesn’t matter because he’s just repeating the new talking point, which is this:

“I'm not the guy pushing the bill that says we should compel people to buy insurance from the for-profit guys. That's the Democrats."

So this is how it’s going to be. Democrats get pwned again by the Republican message machine. Only this time, the Democrats are going to find it awfully hard to counter the pro-health insurance company label because it is correct. If this healthcare bill passes (and I suspect it will), Democrats will force people to buy insurance from private, monopolized, for-profit health insurance companies, without competition from the public sector. It's true.

So expect to hear more of this line in the ensuing months and years. Shaddegg was first out of the box but I guarantee you, he won’t be the last. We live in a nation of amnesiacs, where constant repetition of talking points in the echo chamber rewrites history on a daily basis. Now we hear that 9/11 happened on Clinton’s watch and the economic decline happened on Obama’s watch. And now the Democrats have been pwned by the right wing message machine once again.

It doesn't matter that the Republicans were being really mean and shouty people with racist signs showed up at town hall meetings and elites on the Washington Post and New York Times editorial pages had big sads and things like single payer and the public option were called "socialized medicine" and "communist" and "fascist" all at the same time. No one will remember that, all they will remember is that we were forced to eat a shit sandwich and don't think for a moment that the Republicans won't make Democrats own it.

By trying to do what was expedient, instead of fighting for what was right and what would actually work, the Democrats have saddled themselves with the “pro-health insurance company” label. They have forgotten (if they every knew it to begin with) that when it comes to the message wars, Republicans are rubber and Democrats are glue. Whatever Republicans say about Democrats sticks.

By refusing to put single payer on the table, we never got to have that debate (though as I’ve said, we’ve been fighting anti-single payer arguments with the Tea Shouters and their “no socialized medicine” messaging). Now Democrats have the pro-health insurance company albatross hanging around the necks--health insurance companies, probably the most universally reviled business in this country.

Way to go, guys.

(h/t, Kleinheider)