Monday, July 20, 2009

Kristol the Killer: Inside the right-wing agenda to destroy health-care reform

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Back in the early '90s, Bill "Krazy" Kristol helped coordinate the Republican effort to kill what the right-wing smear machine called "Hillarycare." He's back at it in 2009, leading the crusade against "Obamacare," and, in The Weekly Standard today, he lays out his strategy bluntly:

With Obamacare on the ropes, there will be a temptation for opponents to let up on their criticism, and to try to appear constructive, or at least responsible. There will be a tendency to want to let the Democrats' plans sink of their own weight, to emphasize that the critics have been pushing sound reform ideas all along and suggest it's not too late for a bipartisan compromise over the next couple of weeks or months.

My advice, for what it's worth: Resist the temptation. This is no time to pull punches. Go for the kill.

The Obama White House and the Democratic congressional leadership shouldn't be underestimated. They're tough. They'll cut deals and twist arms to try to keep their priority legislation alive. They'll certainly attack their opponents, whether their opponents' tone is conciliatory or confrontational.

So this is not the time to let them off the ropes. This is the week to highlight every problem, every terrible provision, in the Democratic bills: from taxes and spending to government control and rationing to federal funding for abortion and government-required death-with-dignity counseling sessions for the elderly. Throw the kitchen sink at the legislation now on the table, drive a stake through its heart (I apologize for the mixed metaphors), and kill it.

Then opponents can say, of course we do want to pass sensible health reform. But to do so, we need to start over.

So the constructive part of the message would be: Start Over. We're not giving up on health reform...

And so on. The title of his post says it all: "Kill It, and Start Over."

Kristol doesn't pull any punches here. Writing at his neocon homebase, he's free to let it all hang out -- and it does. And it's helpful for us, who oppose Kristol and his ilk, to be able to see right into the dark core of their moral and ideological extremism.

The key message is "Kill It," not "Start Over." Do we honestly believe that Kristol wants to start over, that he genuinely wants to see meaningful health-care reform passed? The only reform he wants is more of the same, reform that further supports the private interests -- HMOs, Big Pharma, etc. -- that control America's sinking health-care system, profiting grossly while millions and millions remain uninsured or otherwise unable to access the care they need, including for their children.

And do we honestly believe that Kristol wants to work on "sensible and targeted health reform in a bipartisan way"? Sure, if "sensible and targeted" means keeping the status quo (making it even more difficult for low- and middle-income Americans to access quality care, making the system even more profitable for private interests), and only if "bipartisan" means "Republican."

What this post reveals is just now partisan, in both political and ideological terms, the right is. And this ought to be a warning to those in the pro-reform camp, including moderate Democrats, who think that bipartisanship is a possibility. However desirable it may be to secure Republican support for a meaningful reform bill, after all, one that includes a robust public option, the fact is, Republicans, led by the likes of Bill Kristol, aren't serious about, and aren't soon about to get serious about, working constructively with Democrats. They are obstructionists, it's that simple, and their delay tactics aren't about pushing some viable alternative to "Obamacare" but about killing reform altogether.

That is their goal, and they are adamant about it. It will take all of our strength to fight back against them, and to achieve our goal, a genuinely American goal, of quality health care for all Americans, not just for the lucky few -- like Kristol himself -- who can afford it.

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