GOP releases healthcare plan; actual plan not included

Once again, Republicans come out with an alternative proposal that's long on rhetoric and short on everything else

By Alex Koppelman

Published June 17, 2009 8:25PM (EDT)

You can't really blame House Republicans for rushing out various plans on hot-button issues like the federal budget, climate change and healthcare reform. Democrats are getting all that oxygen, and when the GOP hasn't released its own proposals, it's gotten tagged as the "party of 'no,'" a label it would rather not have in a country with a weak economy and a popular president.

But at some point, they're going to have to rethink their current strategy.

On Wednesday, the House GOP made a big show of unveiling its own healthcare reform plan. But, as they have in the past, the congressmen didn't wait to ensure the proposal had some heft to it and was more than just the usual campaign rhetoric -- they didn't even bother to come up with any numbers for how many Americans would get coverage under their bill, or how much it would cost.

This tactic has hurt them before; they were publicly embarrassed by a failed attempt to push an alternative budget, and started publicly squabbling amongst themselves over the misfire. They basically got away with it with their climate and energy package, but were lucky to do so -- if anyone had been paying attention, they would have called out the GOP's goal of seeing 100 new nuclear reactiors built in the U.S. in the next few decades as hopelessly optimistic.

They didn't get away with it this time, though. The press conference that marked the official roll-out of the plan got testy, with reporters repeatedly pressing the congressmen for details that were not forthcoming. And a negative article in the Washington newspaper Roll Call has defined the day for the GOP, setting the narrative about the proposal with this opening paragraph:

House Republicans presented a four-page outline of their health care reform plan Wednesday but said they didn’t know yet how much it would cost, how they would pay for it and how many of the nearly 50 million Americans without insurance would be covered by it.

Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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