Robert Reich is worried that Republican opposition to health care reform will result in "a watered-down set of reforms that still leave millions of Americans uninsured and don't slow healthcare costs":
Astroturf Along American Highways, and the Republican Plan, by Robert Reich: On our drive across America, my son and I have spotted spiffy white vans emblazoned with phrases like "ObamaCare will raise your taxes" and "ObamaCare will put bureaucrats in charge of your health." ...
This isn't grass roots. It's Astroturf. The vans carry the logo "Americans for Prosperity," one of the Washington front groups orchestrating the fight against universal health. They're using Congress's August recess to heckle Democratic representatives when they meet with their constituents, stage erszatz local anti-universal health rallies, and fill home-town media with carefully-crafted, market-tested messages demonizing healthcare reform.
The Republican party's fingerprints are all over this. FreedomWorks, another group now Astroturfing its way around America, is chaired by former House Republican Leader Dick Armey. Texas Republican Pete Sessions, who chairs the National Republican Campaign Committee, says the days of civil town halls are "now over.” Key Republican funders are forking out big bucks. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, whose ties to the GOP are legion, announced in June it would “develop a sweeping national advocacy campaign encompassing advertising, education, political activities, new media and grassroots organizing" to battle universal health and other Democratic initiatives.
The Republicans' goal isn't ideological. It's power. Republicans smell 1994 all over again. That's when they defeated Clinton's healthcare plan -- and in doing so convinced large numbers of Americans that Clinton and the Democrats couldn't be trusted. This enabled the Republicans to retake control of Congress. ...
But this Republican strategy will fail. 2010 will not be 1994. There's too much momentum behind universal health care right now to stop it. Yet the Republicans' fake grass-roots campaign may cause some Democratic lawmakers to become even more nervous about universal health care than they already are... The result will be a watered-down set of reforms that still leave millions of Americans uninsured and don't slow healthcare costs. This is why Obama has to fight for this so hard over the August recess, why he has to be far more specific about what he wants in the bill...
I don't think it's clear cut that Clinton's failure to enact health care reform was the primary cause of the Democrat's troubles in 1994, though it probably contributed to some extent. But I want to note something else, the generational difference in attitudes toward reform:
Fifty percent of those questioned in a CNN/Opinion Research Corp. survey released Wednesday morning say they support the president's plans, with 45 percent opposed. The results indicate a generational divide.
"Obama's plan is most popular among younger Americans and least popular among senior citizens," CNN Polling Director Keating Holland said. "A majority of Americans over the age of 50 oppose Obama's plan; a majority of those under 50 support it."
It's interesting that the age group most likely to be covered by a government health plan -- the elderly who are covered in large part by medicare -- is also the group most opposed to change.