Lowering the Bar on Obamacare

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I want to follow up on my criticism of the GOP tactics on health care reform.  My concern is that by exaggerating the negative effects of Obamacare, the Republicans are effectively lowering the bar for Democratic health care reforms to succeed.

Suppose that the main GOP message is, "Health care reform will kill grandma."  If health care reform passes, and three years from now grandma is not dead, then the Democrats can say, "We told you so."


Instead, suppose that main opposition message is, "Medicare is not on a sustainable path, and if this passes it will still not be on a sustainable path."  Three years from now, if Medicare is not on a sustainable path, then it will be the opposition that can say, "We told you so."

Maybe the Republicans think that the "grandma is gonna die" approach is going to work to defeat the Obama program.  If so, they may be getting suckered by the apparent disunity among Democrats.  In the end, the incentive for the Democrats to resolve their differences is pretty high.  If something passes, the Republicans may regret that they adopted an opposition tactic that lowers the bar for success for health care reform.

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Arnold Kling

Arnold Kling earned his Ph.D in economics at MIT. He was an economist on the staff of the Federal Reserve Board. From 1986-1994 he worked at Freddie Mac. He started Homefair.com in 1994 and sold it in 1999. His fourth book, From Poverty to Prosperity, co-authored with Nick Schulz, is due out in April of 2009. He blogs regularly at Econlog.
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