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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Rudy Awakening on Health Care

Rudy Giuliani’s loud if not very specific comments on health care policy yesterday pretty clearly signify an ever-greater polarization of the two parties on this subject, and perhaps a hightening of the issue’s importance in the 2008 presidential campaign. Giuliani’s hard-right position on health care also reinforces my earlier argument that Democrats need to make up their minds where to draw the lines between Ds and Rs on health care.
Over at The New Republic, Jonathan Cohn skillfully dissects RudyCare, and demolishes it as a serious effort towards universal health care. It’s really just a restatement of George W. Bush’s thoroughly discredited “thinking” on the subject, accompanied by massive demagoguery aimed at tapping conservative hatred of Michael Moore and of “Old Europe.”
The Progressive Policy Institute’s Dave Kendall has a piece up at the DLC’s Ideas Primary site going a bit further, stressing the Giuliani-Bush approach’s atavistic, Social Darwinist demands for individual health care purchasing.
So why is the supposed “centrist” Rudy Giuliani embracing this position, which he would undoubtedly have mocked as mayor of New York? Aside from the obvious fact that he wants to burnish his credentials for economic conservatism in order to obscure his less-than-conservative credentials on cultural issues, Rudy may be preparing a major Assault From the Right on Mitt Romney over the health care plan the Mittster signed in Massachussets, which heavily depends on “socialist” collective purchasing schemes. This could get tricky for Giuliani, complicating his efforts to get an endorsement from Arnold Schwarzenegger, who signed a health care plan similar to Romney’s. More generally, it would create the interesting spectacle of the two leading GOP “moderates” battling to outflank each other on the Right on different sets of issues.
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I’d repeat that the GOP’s lurch to the Radical Right on health care forces Democrats to make a fundamental choice: Do we accept the universal/non-universal or government/private distinctions GOPers are seeking to make between their health care plans and ours? Or do we focus on exposing the GOP’s fundamental hostility to even the status quo’s efforts to encourage pooled purchasing and community rating?
The answer may depend on whether Mitt Romney or someone else is the Republican nominee, but it’s not too early to begin thinking about it now.

2 comments on “Rudy Awakening on Health Care

  1. Albert Whited on

    “efforts to get an endorsement from Arnold Schwarzenegger”… It’s got to be a sad day for the GOP when their best endorsement comes from an inarticulate sexist son-of-a-NAZI, but not their own sitting Prez or Veep!

  2. steve duncan on

    Republicans just plain don’t like anyone making less than 6 figures unless it means doing just enough to buy their votes. I’m not holding my breath waiting on Democrats to take advantage of this antipathy. I think they’re mainly concerned with choosing which hand to vigorously manipulate their genitals.


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