Monday, March 22, 2010

Canadian Impact of the GOP's "waterloo"?

Here is a link to an opinion piece by David Frum, former special assistant to President Bush in 2001-02 and a prominent conservative commentator south of the border:

In addition to the interesting take on the political dimensions of the Republican party's challenges there are a couple of storm cloud comments in this piece from the perspective of Canada and Alberta.

Frum begins by acknowledging that 'Obamacare' is now a done deal and that the idea that the Republican party will be able to simply repeal it is ludicrously simplistic. He then focuses in on specific challenges he feels that the GOP needs to address, starting with the means of paying for the program. He identifies minimizing the impact of upper-tier income-tax increases as a priority. "We need to start thinking now about how to get rid of these new taxes on work, saving and investment -- if necessary by finding other sources of revenue, including carbon taxes."

Well Alberta, that is the sound of change coming south of the border. There is already a large faction of the Democratic party working to implement some kind of carbon tax, for one or both of the environmental or fiscal agendas. In the Republican party support for the idea has been more limited, but if Frum and other Republican thought leaders come to see it as a source of revenue to fund some of their liabilities, as well as a possible wedge issue to court certain factions within the Democratic vote, then the likelihood of a serious carbon tax regime of some kind in the next few years goes up markedly.

In addition he makes a couple of comments about the coming shift in the American health insurance market, the impacts of which will be felt on this side of the border as well. I will leave aside his discussion of the market mechanics of a free trade, if such a thing can be said to exist in this case, in health care. The more immediately germane comment is his fourth - that dealing with the potential impact of the punitive provisions of the new health plan on employers who don't meet the new rules. The American recovery is tender, and productivity south of the border, while not as bad as in Canada, is certainly nothing to envy. Given the impact of the American economy on our own we need to be alert for indications of how some of these elements of the plan will play out in practice.

Given the magnitude of the Republican mismanagement of American policy and finances under President Bush it is hard to feel an sympathy for the GOP when Frum concludes "the "Waterloo" threatened by GOP Sen. Jim DeMint last year regarding Obama and health care has finally arrived all right: Only it turns out to be our own."


  1. Ironically, Canada is becoming a bit of a safe-haven for right wing theocrats. See how Sarah Palin and Ann Coulter are making their rounds in various locations across Canada, protected by their God-fearing brethren that are leading the country into a financial and social hell hole.

    Where is our Obama?

  2. If you could provide some enlightenment on the complexities of the health care debate, I'd sure read it! It's awfully difficult, from a layperson's perspective, to evaluate different alternatives on their merits and feasibility. (I think this is why so many people default to emotional/ideological positions on it).