Impact of Health Care Protests in MD

Today, the Baltimore Sun has an editorial titled “Cynical Manipulation” that says “those who are protesting loudest about the health reform proposals being considered care little about the facts.” The editorial is particularly critical of Ellen Sauerbrey saying “should definitely know better” and that “she’s certainly sophisticated enough to find out the truth.”

Not a single member of Congress, including Ben Cardin, protester, or member of the Baltimore Sun Editorial Page has read the 1200 page bill so the truth is that no one knows the facts about the bill. The bill on page 971 could have a line that says no one will be allowed to drink soda on Thursdays, and no one would know about it right now because no one has read the bill. This blog encourages the Baltimore Sun to write an editorial encouraging a requirement that every member of Congress read the entire health care reform bill prior to voting on it and take the time to dispel some of the wilder talking points from both sides of the debate. The Baltimore Sun should also encourage members of Congress to place a copy of the bill online in an easily searchable format so the general public can review the “facts.”

The entire debate on health care is eerily similar to the 2005 debate on social security reform led by then President Bush and the Republican Congress. Democratic and liberal interest groups slammed the reform idea claiming it is “privatizing social security” and would mean seniors would lose their security blanket. Each of these arguments were untrue. Did the Baltimore Sun criticize them? No. The left-leaning groups never offered any solutions to make social security solvent for the long term. Instead they instituted scare tactics. Was the Baltimore Sun Editorial page as critical of those groups as they were of the health care protesters? No.

What is interesting is that two years after that debate, Democrats took over control of Congress. Attacking Social Security united a fractured Democratic base and began the alienation of America’s seniors from the Grand Ole Party.

This debate also reminds me of the immigration reform debate in that there were extremists on both sides. Some on the far left wanted completely open borders and some on the far right wanted to ship every illegal back to Mexico. Neither of these were serious solutions. The truth is that in every debate their are extremes. Some of the health care protesters are on the extreme side. Sadly the Baltimore Sun editorial and many other media outlets focus on the extremists instead of those who have legitimate concerns such as whether they will be able to keep their own health care, what the cost will be, will they have access to the same quality of care, and will this lower the costs they pay.

The protests and debate could have a real impact on Maryland.

The bad news for Republicans first. Republicans will not be able to make major gains in Maryland at the federal level in 2010. Barbara Mikulski will win reelection with 65% of the vote at least. Ruppersburger, Sarbanes, Edwards, Hoyer, Van Hollen, and Cummings will all get reelected by wide margins. Depending on who Republicans nominate and the type of campaign they run (meaning Andy Harris can’t run a repeat of 2008), Frank Kratovil will probably lose. The impact won’t really be felt at the federal level.

The good news for Republicans is that these protests and Democratic overreaching will unite the Republican Party (a difficult thing to do with all of the in-fighting we discussed here).

A united party will help down ballot races. Local delegates and senators will get a 3-5% bump from an energized Republican Party and ticked off Independents.

More bad news for the Democrats is that the health care reform bill is alienating the same seniors (See Politico article) they won over with social security scare tactics. The single largest group concerned about the Health Care Reform Bill is seniors. A July 31st Gallup Poll showed only 20% of people 65+ believe health care reform would improve their own situation. The benefit for Republicans is that seniors are the highest percentage voting population. With Democrats alienating them, Republicans have an opportunity to get their votes.

The bottom line is protesters should focus on the cost of the bill, the potential for bureaucrats getting in the way of the doctor-patient relationship, and the potential to limit access to physicians, instead of things that make them look like extremists (ie “Death panels”).

Mark Newgent over on RedMaryland has a critique of the The Baltimore Sun’s Editorial as well right here.

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2 Responses

  1. Hey Mark. The healthcare reform bill is 1000 pages long, not 1200 and is very easily found on the Library of Congress’s Thomas website at thomas.loc.gov. If you had looked it up yourself and read it yourself like you want the Sun and members of Congress to do, you might have known that.

  2. Speaking of the Baltimore Sun, they’re now tackling another aspect of misinformation in the health care reform debate: Illegal immigrants and how they fit in the health care bill.

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