What About A GOP Plan

As Democrats struggle to forge a deal on health care legislation in Congress, there are a lot of lawmakers pointing the finger back at Republicans, asking where is the GOP plan on health reform?

"We continue to work on our bill," said House GOP Leader John Boehner earlier this week, adding that there was no plan to release it until Democrats iron out their own differences.

A few weeks ago, I was speaking with Neal Boortz about the lack of a GOP alternative.  Also listening was Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), who quickly had a staffer call me, to remind me that Republican health plans are out there, which is most certainly true.

But there really isn't 'one' GOP plan that's being talked about as an alternative in the context of this current health care reform fight.

It actually raises an interesting political strategy question.  Do the Republicans really need to have an alternative on health care reform at this point in the debate?  Imagine yourself as a GOP strategist right now - would you tell your lawmaker/candidate that the party needs a specific health care reform bill right now?

Five months ago, I might have said yes, simply because there was such a big edge in the polls for the Democrats on health care.

But now, it doesn't seem so essential for the Republicans to fight fire with fire and have a battle over the details of dueling health care plans.

Yes, the GOP does leave itself open to charges that Republicans are for the status quo.

But right now, the real issue that voters seem to be focusing on is the size, scope and cost of the Obama health plan, and whether Democrats can muster the votes from fellow Democrats to get that approved.

I was speaking with a GOP Congressman about health care strategy the other day.  He argued that the GOP needs to be "for" something and not just "against" what President Obama wants to do.

That is an important point.  But as I noted, most of the time, the reason one party gets back in power in the Congress is not usually the strength of their ideas, but how many screwups are committed by the party in charge.

So maybe, right now at least, being the "Party of No" might work for the GOP on health care reform.

Republican leaders will certainly have time to think about it, since now both the House and Senate seem headed for health care work after Labor Day, unable to forge a bill before President Obama's original early August deadline.

But here's the one caveat.  What if the Senate Finance Committee comes up with a bipartisan bill in coming days, a bill that definitely has some items in it for the GOP?  Would that change the dynamic?

It makes for some interesting political maneuvering to say the least.

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