Whatever Happened to Malpractice Reform?

Next year, Tom Reed is going to be selling himself as someone who can get things done in Washington. In order to make that sale, he needs to be part of a functioning opposition party. In the last 6 months, we've seen nothing but dysfunction from the Republican leadership. Their strategy is to do nothing and wait for Obama or the Democrats to screw up. But doing nothing means that some parts of the Republican agenda that could be getting done aren't going to happen.

Malpractice reform, a.k.a. "tort reform", is one prime example of something the Republicans could get if they would bother to engage. Tort reform has been a key part of the Republican healthcare agenda for the last 20 years. Every Republican politician, conservative talk show host and right-leaning pundit has mentioned it as one of the key requirements for changing our healthcare system. Even President Obama has signaled that he'd accept some kind of tort reform.

The Democratic rank-and-file has no interest in tort reform. In order for tort reform to make it into the healthcare bill, Republicans would have to come to the table with some possible votes and negotiate to get it into the bill. Though the current bill is far from finished, the latest reports indicate that tort reform isn't part of the bill. The reason is simple: the negotiation going on right now is between Nancy Pelosi and the "Blue Dogs", not Nancy Pelosi and John Boehner.

Polls have shown that Americans are willing to accept tort reform as part of a healthcare package. As one healthcare expert put it:

The public isn't pushing hard for malpractice reform but will be happy to have it if the lawyers, doctors, administration and Congress can agree to a plan [...]

There's no reason that tort reform couldn't be part of the current healthcare bill -- no reason, that is, other than incompetent leadership driven by petulant, bullheaded stubbornness. This is the leadership that Tom Reed will be serving if he goes to Washington. Why would anyone want a Representative from a party that has specifically chosen to get nothing done?


The GOP is in need of a leader with a vision - similar to 1980 and 1992. We will see if that happens.

Haven't seen signs of that person yet, but who knows. One of the differences between now and '92 and '80 is that there's a whole bunch of people calling for purges of RINOs from the party. I saw Susan Eisenhower on the Bill Maher show the other night. Even she's not a Republican anymore, even though she's fairly conservative.

To be fair, the Democrats held back in '07 and '08. Even though they had a majority they still let the Bush administration dig itself deeper into a hole. They and the MSN started the process of showing that the emperor wore no clothes, but they did little legislatively. They made a lot of noise and tore away at Republican credibility.

Polls are showing that the Republicans and the MSM are having some success at taking the shine off of the Obama administration. At least now they aren't playing against a superhero.

If they fail to "break him" via health care they may regret not swapping something in the bill for tort reform, but right now they are not interested in bargaining, much less doing something for their base. Especially if the Democrats end up getting credit for it. Besides they would be behaving in a bipartisan way, which would credit Obama.

They want their base to continue rending their garments. At least for now it's total war for them. If they lose they will just whine and race-bait until after the '10 election hoping to convince Americans that our experiment with a black Democrat president was a failure.

Yes to all -- but I think the '08 election was a game changer unlike '06, and the smart Republican move is to do some rebuilding rather than just withdrawing.

Maybe the GOP leadership sees the writing on the wall at last:



When they dump Limbaugh I'll believe in change.

I'd missed that Bill O decided to push back on birthers. Interesting.

Agree on Limbaugh. Women, especially, don't like the guy.