Here is the problem for Jeb: There is no common ground between (a) “I should control my own medical decisions, with my doctor deciding what to charge for his services and my insurance company deciding what risks it will cover, at prices to be determined by a free market,” and (b) “The federal government should oversee my medical decisions, tell the doctors what to charge, and dictate what insurance companies must cover at what rates.” In this, as in other matters Gov. Bush calls the “bigger, more pressing issues” – the issues about what kind of country we are going to be – one side has to win and one side has to lose.
We do not have what Bush calls “instances of crisis” because people are uncivil, or because competing sides are, as he says, merely trying to “win a political point.” We have them because there is no sensible compromise on these fundamental controversies. Each side is trying to persuade Americans of the rightness of their antithetical visions for our society.
Bush, like George Will, is wrong in suggesting that conservatives are unwilling to compromise. The most underreported fact in the recent shutdown controversy – and the fact most under-exploited by those leading the charge against Obamacare – was this: Conservatives do not want the federal government funded at today’s unsustainable levels. The monstrous size and scope of the federal government is largely what animates the Tea Party. Yet conservatives compromised on this point of great consequence to them, agreeing to fund government on the Democrats’ astronomical terms … except for Obamacare. It was President Obama who declined to seek common ground: refusing to compromise with conservatives despite having lawlessly compromised on Obamacare with corporations, cronies and Congress (members and staff) who did not want it applied to them.
In our system, we settle such fundamental controversies democratically: by elections or, between elections, by having elected officials exercise the relative powers the Constitution gives them to press their position until one side yields. Our health-care battle lends itself only to this kind of resolution. Again, there is no common ground between (a) “The government has no authority to make me pay for your healthcare – no more than it has to make me pay for your flat-screen TV,” and (b) “The government has the authority to confiscate its chosen percentage of my property in order to pay for your medical treatments that government deems necessary.”
There being no common ground, Gov. Bush’s notion of “common ground” translates into: Let the Democrats have their way. He went on to tell ABC:
Show how Obamacare, flawed to its core, doesn’t work. So, have a little bit of self-restraint. It might actually be a politically – be a better approach to see the massive dysfunction. But we don’t even hear about that because we’ve stepped on that message. And I think Republicans just need to take a step back, and allow – show a little self-restraint and let this happen a little more organically.
What an extraordinary statement from someone who just got done ripping conservatives for allegedly using crises to “win political points.” Bush’s game-plan is to sit back and let the crisis happen. What he describes as “the massive dysfunction” of Obamacare is a Beltway euphemism for millions of real people suffering grievous harm: prohibitive insurance rate rises; family budget-busting out-of-pocket costs due to soaring deductibles; immense transfers of wealth that discourage productivity and encourage dependency; billions of dollars misallocated away from productive enterprises and sunk into government-dictated health insurance plans that the unwilling are coerced to buy; employers in our paralyzed economy encouraged to cut employees and hours; a further bloated bureaucracy that will be next-to-impossible to roll back; and taxpayer funds egregiously wasted by the program’s imploding implementation (even more politicized than it is incompetent).