Republicans unveiled their “Pledge to America” in a Sterling, Virginia, hardware store on Sept. 23, according to the Washington Post, marking their formal closing remarks in the case for choosing their party this November. They’ve rolled out their campaign, the same campaign being pushed by legislators across vulnerable Democratic districts in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, and Virginia that’s steeped in promises to reduce the deficit, curb spending, repeal the health care reforms, and bolster national defense. The pledge harkens back to the “Contract with America” of 1994, in hopes of seeing a similar GOP sweep bring Republicans back into power as a reaction against Democratic governance.
The primary goal of the Pledge is to demonstrate that the GOP isn’t just the party of “no,” a role that any minority party must fulfill when in the opposition. Being negative means being a check against the governing party, but it also means sounding negative. The Democrats have had to suffer a lot of flak, in particular in swing districts where votes such as TARP, the stimulus bill, and the health care reform bill have been met with incredulity. During a major economic downturn, the spending associated with the bills is being marketed by the GOP as a way to turn off jobs and drive the economy further into the ground. No bill has taken voters more into the sausage factory of deal-making than the health care reform bill, a bill that brought new phrases to the American political lexicon such as “public option,” “death panels” and “Cornhusker Kickback.” All of it gave voters a bad taste, and few saw the virtues of the legislation by the time President Obama signed the bill.
One of the items found in the Pledge to America is to repeal the health care reform bill, a goal Democrats hoped would be viewed as extreme and unworkable six months ago. While hardly perfect, the reform bill promises to cover young adults under 26 years of age under their parent’s insurance, stop insurance companies from denying coverage for pre-existing conditions, and close the “donut hole” in Medicare Part D coverage. Instead, Republicans want to use tort reform, portable health insurance coverage across state lines, and health saving accounts to introduce their version of health care reform.
The truth of the matter is health insurance reform is something that cannot wait. When my son was born, my wife was able to use her parent’s insurance to cover her hospital stay, a benefit given to GM employees and their children if the children live at home. That coverage wasn’t extended to my son, though. Because he was an emergency birth with complications, they moved him into intensive care and his coverage was lost. We were fortunate that the State of Michigan covered the expense, or we would have found ourselves owing over $100,000 in expenses, in particular because I had no insurance myself at the time.
Health insurance in this country is becoming more expensive, and the insurance companies will fight reform at every level, tooth and nail. It’s difficult to imagine this entire process being repeated and approved any time soon. The degree of rancor and voter disapproval over the last round of reforms suggests any further political haggling would be suicidal for a governing party. For now, the “Pledge” in regards to health care reform is political smoke and mirrors, but it will help the Republicans where they need it most — at the voting booth.
Dana Milibank, “With ‘Pledge to America,’ Republicans are new Foundering Fathers” Washington Post
Washington Post, “A PLEDGE TO AMERICA”