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DAVID ROSMAN: Factions within GOP could cause splinter, create new party

Wednesday, October 30, 2013 | 6:00 a.m. CDT

It was interesting. I typed “Demise of the GOP” into my search engine and, lo and behold, I found articles written by the usual suspects, The Huffington Post and The New York Times as well as the conservative Atlantic and The Washington Times.

These were not repeats of a news release from The Associated Press or Scripps Howard but independent commentaries by those who know the Washington scene much better than you and I.

The problem is all of these predictions of the death of the conservative political steward might be quite premature. In fact, we heard the same predictions in the late 1960s up through the 1992 election of Bill Clinton. The Democratic Party was on the brink of collapse because of fracturing within the party.

My own prediction is that the Republican Party will remain, but the neo-conservative tea party movement will play the part of abrasive divider as a third party. And with the Republicans’ approval rating heading toward zero, it will be the Democrats who will rise to the top.

But what about our state legislature? With Missouri’s Republicans dominating the House and Senate, will we see a blow back under the gray dome? My crystal ball says give the odds to the Dems, although I do not think they will see a majority in either chamber in 2015.

The Democrats have taken a few pages from the GOP successes and have united under a single banner. OK, there are the outliers who believe, and rightfully so, that the progressive wing of the party is being ignored, but even they generally are in lockstep with the mainstream. It is true that American politics have been moving to the right since the Reagan administration, but that does not deny the liberal and progressive voices. At least they are not screaming, “Look at me!”

Though voters’ memory are short and we are still a bit more than a year from the 2014 midterm elections, it appears that the tea party activists will take every opportunity to remind the American people that "Obamacare" is a failure. That activists like Sen. Ted Cruz are heroes to their cause and are pushed into the limelight for all to see. The problem is that we are also hearing their sometimes confused voices.

Last week on his third trip to Iowa, Sen. Ted Cruz was met with an underwhelming reception from the prominent members of the Iowa GOP. If he were a true hero, I would have expected two minutes of applause from the constituents. Cruz received less than 40 seconds.

The dimming of Cruz’s spotlight is something that those in the majority in Jefferson City need to be aware of. Noise is already being made by state leaders that they will not discuss the expansion of Medicare, leaving hundreds, if not thousands, of Missourians with less-than-affordable health care. But denying health care to those who need it most might prove to be the demise of the GOP as we have known it.

Yet, this fracture in the GOP is not as simple as getting some centrists and right-wing right-wingers together in a conference room. The extremists not only want their say but also will whine, scream and generally throw a tantrum to get their way. We are seeing it today with tea party favorites calling Republicans who voted to end the partial government shutdown “liberals,” as if that word ought to be censored by the FCC.

Our founders did not perceive a two-party political system. If they had, it would have been written into the Constitution. However, factions did exist, and by the election of 1800, the system as we know it took its first breaths with the party of Jefferson supporting state’s rights and that of Adams supporting a strong federal government. We have also witnessed a reversal in political leanings of the parties of Jefferson and of Lincoln, starting with FDR. I believe we will see a similar change as the pendulum hits its apex and starts its slow return to the center-left.

Missouri is not alone. Infighting among the GOP can be found in Georgia, Alabama, and Alaska. Even Texas is not immune from the fray.

Regardless of the voters' long-term memory (or lack thereof) or the success (or failure) of the Affordable Care Act, unless the mainstream Republicans can control their tea party faction, a third party will come along affecting national and state legislatures alike. Then we might have to capitalize “Tea Party.”

David Rosman is an editor, writer, professional speaker and college instructor in communications, ethics, business and politics. He writes a weekly column for the Missourian.


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Comments

Mark Foecking October 30, 2013 | 8:21 a.m.

"It is true that American politics have been moving to the right since the Reagan administration"

I'm not sure I would say that. Obama was reelected by a decent margin, and Democrats have done as well recently as any other time in the last few decades. The ACA was passed, abortion is still legal, little has been cut from the federal budget - Social Security and Medicare have been preserved and discretionary spending continues at a high level.

What I would say is right wing media is far more prominent now, and I think this fuels the perception that the country is moving to the right. Our polarization is the result of competing hyperbole between the left and the right, with outrageous statements begetting more outrageous statements. This is, of course, not conducive to compromise or constructive discussion of solutions.

DK

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Michael Williams October 30, 2013 | 1:47 p.m.

The fate of future elections will depend upon the whims of the "middle"....those we call "independents."

It's been that way for decades and I see no reason for things to change now. Electioneering dollars will still be directed towards that group. Everyone else has already made up their minds.

Which is why the outcome of Obamacare will dictate elections for the next few years. Those independents noted above are going to be pretty decisive about their reaction to however Obamacare turns out. That decisiveness will either reflect complete disdain...or praise...of the party responsible for it. Independents vote depending upon the content of their wallets.

PS: I've been watching CNN and Fox today...about equally. I'd have to say CNN is doing the better job overall. But, wow, neither are happy about the Obamacare rollout and future at all. I've viewed at least 6 segments of the President saying (in the past) that you WILL be able to keep your policy if you like it and you WILL be able to keep your doctor. Voters remember stuff like that. No one has used the "liar" term yet, but commentators are sure flirting with the word. Other liberal commentators are spinning like crazy with "We know what you want and like and this is better" and seem to be receiving a "Don't pee down my boot and tell me it's raining" reaction from those of us whose jaws have dropped to the floor listening to their spin.

I found the Congressional testimony with the HHS boss insulting and ridiculous to us citizens, a bunch of posturing from both sides with little substance. Basically a waste of time. Gosh, I sure don't like politicians much....certainly in my bottom-three of least-liked professions. Which, of course, may be the problem....perhaps politics shouldn't be a profession.

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Michael Williams October 30, 2013 | 2:04 p.m.

A few questions to ponder:

(1) If someone buys an exchange policy but fails to make their premium payments, however small,....what happens?
(2) If someone buys an exchange policy, gets sick, goes to the doctor, and fails to pay their bill (towards meeting their deductible)....what happens?
(3) How many people don't even know what "premium" and "deductible" mean? How does that affect their willingness to sign up, pay their premiums, pay their deductible, and the like?
(4) If someone fails to buy a policy, what happens when they go to the emergency room for hangnail treatment? Or a GSW?
(5) How long will the gov't allow traditionally-irresponsible folks to not pay their premiums by themselves? How long before the gov't requires your employers to pay it for you?

Just askin'.........

PS: Gosh, I'm sure glad Missouri has decided to stay above this Medicaid fray for now. Let's see how this shakes out first (which, I suspect, a lot of folks are thinking when they ponder even getting on healthcare.gov)

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking October 30, 2013 | 3:00 p.m.

My understanding of the "keep your policy" thing was in the original bill, there was a grandfather provision for people that already had insurance that didn't meet the minimum coverage requirements. Somewhere that got taken out, and I haven't pinned down if that was before or after Obama's speech. I can only say for sure that I kept my insurance and doctor and don't know anyone that didn't. I'm sure there are some, but I'm not sure how common it is to have to change plans.

On your questions:

1) Their policy is cancelled like anyone else's, and they'd have to pay the penalty if they were without it for some fraction of the tax year. If they received a subsidy they might have to refund it.

2) The provider could go after the patient just like now.

3) I am sure there are some who don't. Like any other law, they are responsible for finding out what is required of them.

4) Emergency rooms are still required to administer "stabilizing" treatment regardless of their insurance or ability to pay.

5a) I think you'd have to distinguish between someone that is so low income that they really can't afford a policy without the subsidies, and someone who just is bad with money and doesn't prioritize insurance like they should. That's a tricky one with all sorts of potential privacy issues - do you cut off someone's food stamps because they smoke, for example? I think the income guidelines are about as good as they could do.

5b) In many cases, there is no employer - they're on disability or some other types of assistance. The subsidy pays some portion of the premium and the insured has to come up with the rest (or they qualify for Medicaid). Whether it comes out of a paycheck or not isn't really relevant. If you're asking if employers will have to subsidize plans for their employees, some do, depending on the size of the business and the cost of the policy relative to the employees salary.

There are things that people like about the law and things they don't, depending on who they are. As far as I can tell, it hasn't affected a majority of employed or retired Americans. I'm willing to give it a year or two and see what happens

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams October 30, 2013 | 7:29 p.m.

Mark:

(1) Refund the subsidy? Won't happen. Not $10-15K worth. A future argument will be "These folks cannot afford their reduced premiums OR deductibles, and we must help them."

(2) Gonna be a lot more "going after."

(3) Yeah, they are gonna learn all about "deductibles" when they are charged for that first visit to the doc's office. Collection agencies should do well........

(4) Agree. One of the arguments for the ACA is that it will reduce the number of folks hitting the ERs for routine service. I predict the reductions will be minimal.

(5a) I'm talking about those folks who are financially naive or foolish. See my prediction in (1) above.

(5b) I worded my question poorly. Your employer is now required to pay your FICA, FUTA, and Medicare for you, plus their contributions. You never see the money. I predict the gov't will eventually force businesses to pay the premiums, too, in a similar manner. There's gonna be a "collection problem" until that happens.

PS: I predict there will be massive non-compliance with signups in the 26-39 age brackets. There's gonna be massive sticker shock with the deductible and out-of-pocket numbers for folks starting careers and families. Subsidies go towards payment of premiums, not deductibles or out-of-pocket expenses.

Have you heard any word whether BJC (i.e., our Boone Hospital) got themselves included in Anthem individual policies? Last I heard, the answer was "no", but so far no local newspaper has ever addressed this issue. You can still go to Boone Hospital, but you'll be out-of-network and that means lots more cash from you. We may end up stratifying health care in this community more than it already is.

PSS: What happens to insurance companies if we go to single payer? Anyone know?

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith October 30, 2013 | 7:40 p.m.

Perhaps we should keep things in a "larger perspective." Obamacare and Obama aside, since the mid-1960s our federal government has shown itself entirely capable of screwing up even a one-vehicle funeral cortege. It's pretty much all bad; some situations are just worse than others.

I vote for whatever party it appears will do the least damage (but that's far from easy to determine).

"That government is best which governs least." - Thomas Jefferson

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