Wednesday, January 19, 2011

When Bourgeois-Liberal Rhetoric Backfires

I had a feeling that the Democratic strategy to call on GOP members of Congress to give up their federal health insurance would backfire. And it has.
Looks like we've got another House GOPer who has decided to forgo the health insurance members of Congress enjoy -- because he says members of Congress should not support laws they don't want applied to themselves. [...] Dems, of course, have been demanding Republicans give up their insurance, in order to tar GOPers who favor repeal with the hypocrisy charge. But at this point, it should be noted that a surprising amount of House Republicans have now endorsed the idea by agreeing to do it themselves. Among them are Bobby Shilling, Mike Kelly, Joe Walsh, Daniel Webster, Sandy Adams, Frank Guinta, David McKinley, and Bill Johnson.
The reason they can do this is simple: Since most of these representatives range from upper-middle class to extremely wealthy, they can afford private health insurance. The rhetorical strategy of holding them to consistency might have worked if, say, the stakes were donning a uniform to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan, but the Democrats could hardly make such a demand when the vast majority of them have been complicit in Obama's continued occupation of those countries. But since the best options for providing affordable care to poor people were kicked off the table before the health care reform debate even began, and because it was the Democrats who were responsible for those manuevers, the center-right has nowhere to stand when their rich GOP colleagues call their bluff on federal employees' health insurance.

So as the House comes closer to finalizing their symbolic repeal vote, and a few (very few) principled Democrats remind the public of the tiny bits of common sense that the Act actually contains, the GOP has found another opportunity to strengthen their hand, without fear of genuine political opposition or reprisal. This is what happens when the only check against wealthy people without a conscience is wealthy people with an occasional conscience.

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