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Even the ‘Moderate’ Conservative at the New York Times Can’t Describe the GOP Healthcare Plan

I have a cousin who posted this as his Facebook status this morning: “Sometimes I think, ‘this time David Brooks will write something that doesn’t make me want to punch him.’ And each time, I’m wrong.” I know the feeling.

Brooks has worked as a New York Times Op-Ed columnist since 2003, and while I appreciate that he is the paper’s purported moderate conservative voice and that all media outlets should strive for true “fair and balanced” representation, I join my cousin in his frustration. I am tired of being fooled by this guy. I do not pay for a New York Times digital subscription and it’s a waste to keep allotting any of my 10 free articles per month toward the writer.

Because the reality is that there’s nothing moderate or independent about Brooks’ ideology. Take this morning’s promising example. On the surface, to encounter a title like “A Choice, Not a Whine” seems to bode for real criticism. The headline carried this subtext: “Opponents of Obama’s health care law should stop venting about John Roberts and instead provide a credible alternative.”

Well then! A critical piece from Brooks that might clarify that Republican opposition to last week’s Supreme Court decision regarding the Affordable Healthcare Act isn’t wearing any clothes. Panderer extraordinaire Mitt Romney and his gang of GOP cronies have repeatedly claimed that, should Mittens be elected, they will repeal and replace Obamacare with….what? They won’t say, in the first place because specifics just can’t top the sort of general chest beating that has become the hallmark of Republican contrariness. The party of “no,” has had very little to say for itself beyond a simple negative for years now. It has worked well to a certain degree. The GOP was able to take over the House in the 2010 midterm elections with shockingly little to say for itself besides, “We don’t agree with anything the President says.”

In the second place, Republicans exist to uphold the status quo, the complex state of affairs that keeps siphoning money into the hands of corporations and the extremely wealthy while diminishing the prospects of the middle and underclasses. Pick an issue and look for the GOP’s corresponding cynicism: global warming is fake! Because energy companies are plying us with money to say so! Charter schools rule – forget about revamping public education! Because so many of the operations that provide these untested models of schooling are privately owned with excellent lobbyists!

And then there’s healthcare. For those of us looking to David Brooks to put his party (damn, I keep forgetting he’s independent) to the test, a click on this morning’s column yields this: “Critics of the bill shouldn’t be hating on Chief Justice Roberts. If they can’t make this case to the voters, they really shouldn’t be in public life. Moreover, there are alternatives. Despite what you’ve read, there is a coherent Republican plan.”

Let’s gloss over the fact that if the word has come from the pen of a middle-aged policy fart like Brooks, then “hating” has jumped the pop cultural lexicon shark, and cut to this supposed”coherent Republican plan.” Which is what?

Basically the same tired retread of non-specifics: patients should just say no to elaborate and/or endless procedures (because don’t we all know someone who gets mammograms and colonoscopies for giggles?), give people tax credits so they can purchase their own plans in a competitive, private marketplace. Then there are my two personal favorites: “Americans should be strongly encouraged to buy continuous coverage over their adulthood,” and “encourage experimentation in the states instead of restricting state flexibility.”

I have news for Mr. Brooks, the word “encourage” is rarely followed by concrete specifics. There is NO Republican plan for turning these ideas into reality. What makes you think you can delineate that which your fellow party members can only mumble?

Becky Sarwate

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