In this article, I indulge in one of my favorite pastimes by taking a look into my proverbial crystal ball and predicting the future. Unlike my prediction about the unemployment rate a year from now, this prediction is not set in stone. Circumstances regarding this prediction can change. This is, however, how I see things 4-10 weeks from now if the trajectory regarding Health Care Reform doesn't change.In addition to givingthe reasons for failure, I explain what I think would have to happen to change this vision of the future.
The story of why President Obama's Health Care Reform efforts failed begins on the day after he was elected President. That day, both Democrats and Republicans began the process of demobilizing their campaign efforts. Like every four years, once election day passes, the political parties start closing down campaign offices, send out thank you emails, supporters stop phone banking and canvassing. Everyone disengages and begins to rest. Fighting for the election of a Presidential candidate is exhausting work and no one can keep up that pace forever.
Here is the main difference. Most Democrats, from the grassroots on up, are still demobilized and resting. Republicans, through the leadership of ten prominent think tanks, started remobilizing two months after election day. In January and February, through ten huge and well funded Republican think tanks, the GOP started remobilizing and raising money to fight Obama's initiatives. Similarly, industry groups like the health insurance lobby began mobilizing around this same time to start the fight against Obama's Health Care reform plans.
How do I know this? Well there are a few pieces of evidence and I will share one of them now. The Washington Post had an article out in July, http://voices.washingtonpost.com/health-care-reform/2009/07/health_care_continues_its_inte.html that said that from January through March, before the Health care debate even got started in earnest, the Republicans and Health Insurance Lobbyists were spending $1.4 million per day to defeat health care reform, and when the estimates come out for April through June and then for the time period we are in, the article goes on to say that number is going to be dwarfed. I've estimated that when all is said and done, Republicans, their think tanks and the Health Insurance Lobby will spend over $1 Billion dollars in their efforts to defeat Health Care Reform.
If you are wondering who these think tanks are that I keep talking about, the top three of those think tanks are FreedomWorks, the Cato Institute and Americans for Progress. If you research the leadership of these think tanks, they are all led by heavy hitters in the RNC like Dick Armey and Steve Forbes.
Getting back to the money being spent, while most Democrats were still enjoying the results of the election, Republicans were spending $130 Million to mobilize for the fight against Health Care Reform. Democrats should have seen what was happening here, but we got caught sleeping. While we slept, the Republicans put together what I call a Presidential Election Level Effort against Health Care reform.
What do I mean by a "Presidential Election Level Effort"? I've already talked about the money being spent. But these think tanks and the health insurance lobby have been mobilizing people as well. A Presidential Election Level Effort means an all out, all the time you can spare, all the energy you can give, as many people as you can call, as many letters and articles as you can write, as much money as you can donate and spend. That is what the GOP has unleashed on health care reform.
The GOP Think Tanks used the Tax Day Tea Parties as an energy building and recruiting drive experiment. They took over what had been a Libertarian event that had a turnout of around 50-250 people each year and mobilized people. The day after the Tea Parties, they worked on turning those same people out in the effort against Health Care Reform.
And of course, when we are talking about big GOP efforts in general, we're also talking about political consultants coming up with the most effective lies that the best money and brains can dream up. Those lies include these five big lies that Moveon.org talks about http://pol.moveon.org/truth/lies.html and also includes lies like the idea that illegal aliens would be covered by health care reform. Undocumented aliens are specifically excluded in all forms of the Health Care Reform bill. Section 246 of HR 3200 http://energycommerce.house.gov/Press_111/20090714/aahca.pdf says, "Nothing in this subtitle shall allow Federal payments for affordability credits on behalf of individuals who are not lawfully present in the United States."
I should be fair, a good number of Republicans are probably misinformed. The propaganda coming from GOP political consultants is so cleverly done and well marketed that even top GOP pundits are caught up in the lies. I had the opportunity to converse with conservative pundit John Fund from the Wall Street Journal on Friday in the Green Room at Fox News. He tried to convince me that there is nothing in HR 3200 that specifically excludes undocumented aliens from coverage. I am 100% certain that he believed what he was telling me, and he was completely wrong.
I don't mean to concentrate on the Republican disinformation efforts. Democrats have beaten back similar efforts convincingly and only 10-11 months ago. In September of 2008, there were many articles like this one http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/13/us/politics/13mccain.html?_r=1 in the Times that pointed out the blizzard of lies coming from the McCain campaign. Because Democrats were engaged and mobilized in the middle of a Presidential Campaign, we defeated those lies.
In order to reverse the future that I see in my crystal ball, Democrats must remobilize and engage the Health Care Reform efforts with the same intensity and effort that they gave less than a year ago to elect Obama. We cannot blame the Republicans for this impending failure. We can object to some of their tactics, but they are out there working hard. Whether its sports or business or politics, if your competition out-works and out-hustles you, you have no one to blame but yourself.
The good news is, I'm seeing movement in many different pro-Health Care Reform groups. I'm seeing the beginnings of mobilization but a lot more needs to happen. We Democrats thought that Health Care Reform was going to pass without any effort whatsoever and we were wrong. Whatever individual Democrats did during the election campaign, they have to do again now or Health Care Reform will fail. You cannot beat back a Presidential Election Level Effort with a State Legislature Election Level Effort. Democrats have 10-14 days to get mobilized and start working or this is over.