Monday, November 11, 2013


Once More Unto the Breach, Dear Friends

A man I actually admired a few years ago, former Harvard President Larry Summers, joins in the journo-list "Republican Sabotage" meme here. Like many associated with Harvard, it takes him a while to get to his point and only near the end does he start complaining in somewhat vague detail.

It is disingenuous for those who stood ready to turn any regulatory detail into an attack ad to profess outrage when guidance was not provided during an election campaign.

It is hypocritical for those who held up confirmations of key officials with responsibility for managing federal health-care programs and whose behavior deterred many people from coming into government to lash out at the incompetence of government management. 

The President got his nominee in with a "recess" appointment and the person who preceded and followed him is the current, confirmed manager of the peripherally responsible CMS. This is like complaining about the problems with picking an interior decorator for the Grand Salon after the Titanic grazes the iceberg.

And it is indefensible to refuse to appropriate money to carry out a program and then attack it for being under-resourced.
Does Mr. Summers, with a PhD in economics, not know that the vote to defund the ACA was never passed by the Senate and never became law and that the whole government, including the ACA implementation team, was fully funded by the CR that followed hard upon this 'protest' vote? It was in all the papers.

There is a line that must be respected between political opposition and conscious subversion. Everyone understands that when the country is at war, even a war a person may oppose, vigorous oversight is essential, but, in the end, there is an obligation to support American troops.

We Republicans are indeed aware of that line and have remained on the political opposition side since the cursed law was passed. And what's with the war metaphor? Regarding the ACA, with whom, supposedly, are we at war? Who are the "troops"? The Democrats? It's pretty clear that Mr. Summers did not take logic either at MIT or at Harvard. This is a comparison with no known connection to the subject matter.

He completes the circular 'logic.'

In the same way, history will not judge kindly those who, having lost political debates over policy, go beyond vigorous oversight and seek to subvert enacted programs
So let me get this straight: If you lose the political contest (that is, the other side gets a law passed by a single vote, or here, without a single vote of the opposition), then the political losers have to roll over and play nice, chuck their principled opposition and do everything in their power to support a law they truly believe is going to do horrendous damage to the nation? I wonder if Mr. Summers would have made the same argument about the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution or the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq. Subvert? Is that the right word for merely carrying out the normal political business of our Republic? He links to a June story by Mr Bernstein who has lately championed the false narrative of Republican sabotage. The June story, as expected, merely described normal political opposition after a lost vote.

Big finish.

There is a danger here that goes far beyond delays in access to health insurance. The risk is of a vicious cycle in which poor government performance leads, on the one hand, to overly bold promises of repair and, on the other hand, to reduced funding and support for those doing the work. This generates unmet expectations and disappointment, setting off the cycle anew. In the end, government loses the ability to deliver for citizens and citizens lose respect for government. Our democracy is the loser. 

OK, the ACA is failing not because of a single thing the Republicans did or failed to do, it is failing because all central planning of huge scope, involving millions of humans making a lot of choices in marketplaces for products, always fails. There is no reduced funding of the ACA by the Republicans and Mr. Summers I believe knows better. We don't have a democracy either, merely a Republic with democratic elements, mainly elections, but, more importantly, the Republic is in fact well served if the citizens have an appropriate opinion of their government. That is, if the government fails horribly at its job, then disappointment is the proper public feeling. The Democrats own the ACA--they passed it without any Republican support, they alone wrote it, they alone decided the appropriate funding for it, and they alone are responsible for its near complete failure. That's the true history of this horrible law.

That the public awareness of this near total cock up is spreading despite the omerta imposed by the lap dog press is actually good for the Republic. Mr. Summers' cuttlefish ink of an opinion piece is merely an attempt to distract and confuse during the Democrats' attempted retreat from their deserved responsibility.

UPDATE: Bill Keller, who may have done more damage to American Journalism than any other single person, repeats the Journo-list meme I've been writing about again and again, as if it were a fact in passing in his less than sound (that is, singularly unhelpful) advice to President Obama on how to escape his deserved responsibility for the current sad state of the nation. Money quote about the ACA.

I have no doubt that the administration will get the system working and that the program will ultimately prove popular.

Hope of those in denial springs eternal, apparently.


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