On MSNBC’s Morning Joe today, former Bush chief of staff Andrew Card pushed the conservative line that health care reform needs to be slowed down, calling it “contrived haste.” “If everything is a haste, haste, haste, there are going to be tremendous unintended consequences,” said Card.
Claiming that the Obama administration and congressional Democrats are not seeking a “bipartisan” approach, Card accused the reformers of trying to “bully it through the process” by saying “trust us.” “Don’t trust them,” said Card. “Don’t trust them it’s too big a deal.” When host Mika Brzezinski raised OMB Director Peter Orszag’s argument that Republicans are trying to “drag out” the process in order to “kill” reform, Card claimed that’s not the GOP strategy:
BRZEZINSKI: I hear ya, but at the same time, Peter Orzsag, over the weekend, says that Republicans are just trying to kill this deal. They’re trying to drag out the legislative process and they just, basically, want to kill health care reform because they don’t have any better alternatives. Is that fair?
CARD: Don’t paint all Republicans with that brush. There are Republicans that have put forward very responsible programs to help keep costs down. Yes, meet obligations to expand coverage, but not bust the bank. And they want to help to make sure our economy can be vibrant. And that’s critical today. Let’s do it smart, not fast.
It’s hard to “trust” Card’s claim that Republicans want to be constructive towards health care reform. For instance, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), one of the few GOP senators engaged in negotiations, is “under immense pressure from Republican colleagues not to deal at all” with Democrats.
Indeed, the conservative effort to “kill” reform was clarified today by Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol, an architect of obstructing reform in the ’90s, who wrote that Republicans should “go for the kill”:
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.
Kristol asserts that “we have plenty of time to work next year on sensible and targeted health reform in a bipartisan way,” but Dave Weigel notes the disingenuousness of the claim, since “Republicans had, of course, plenty of time for bipartisan health reform from 2001 to 2009, but they punted, because they don’t believe that the country needs fundamental reform that covers everyone.”