Dana Milbank thinks that he has found a "ventriloquist" providing GOP talking points on health care.
Castellanos used the word "experiment" six times to criticize Obama's plan; Steele, the eager pupil, used it 30. Only one thing would have made the performance more impressive: if Castellanos had been able to drink a glass of water while Steele was talking.
My problem is not that a consultant provided talking points to the GOP Chairman. I am sure that consultants provide talking points to party leaders all the time. My problem is that I would prefer different talking points. If I were the ventriloquist, my talking points would be:
1. We are here whenever President Obama wants to try to stop the insanity on Capitol Hill. Instead, he keeps outsourcing his policies to Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid. Thus, the stimulus that will take effect two years after the recession started. Thus, the cap and trade bill that is mostly corporate welfare with a smidgen of CO2 reduction. And thus a health care bill that worsens the outlook for government spending on health care.
2. We will help the President convert the tax deductibility of health benefits to a refundable tax credit, as supported by economists of all political persuasions. That would help pay for reform and also help "bend the cost curve."
3. We will help the President convert Medicare and Medicaid to means-tested and illness-tested vouchers, which would give the United States what other countries have--a fixed budget for health care, rather than an open-ended spending commitment.
4. We will support comparative effectiveness research, as long as it is used in the context of a system where patients and doctors make decisions, rather than have rationing imposed on them from the government.
My goal would be not be to stage a fight with President Obama. My goal would be to stage a fight with the Democratic Congressional leadership, and leave it up to President Obama if he wants to defend their lunacy.
I don't understand the Republican strategy on health care reform, either substantively or politically. But then, I am not a Republican.