The intellectual incoherence of health reform opponents

Jon Chait absolutely intellectually eviscerates the opponents of health reform as few others can.  Read it.  Highlights:

 One could muster ideological extremism to make the case that the
government has no business subsidizing health insurance for people who
can't get it. Alternatively, one could make the equally nutty case that
Medicare should not lose a single dollar from its budget, however
wasteful and inefficient it may be. But no political philosophy on
earth could justify both of these fanatical positions at once. Somehow,
though, the Republican Party has managed to stake out this absurd
territory–Claude Pepper minus the social conscience, Milton Friedman
without the small government…

Notably absent was any close analysis of the nature of opposition to
health care reform, which turns out, upon inspection, not to consist of
a glorious pro-capitalist proletarian uprising. The segment of the
population most opposed to reform has been the elderly, who benefit
from a single-payer system in Medicare…

There is also the related inconvenience that opposition to health
care reform appears to be closely linked to misunderstandings of health
care reform. Support for reform rises when poll respondents are read
details of Obama's actual plan. And the low point for reform came
during August, when public belief in death panels and other
misconceptions surged.

Conservatives have reacted to this awkward fact by redoubling the
anti-intellectual populism championed (and embodied) by Sarah Palin.
One favored technique is to imply that anything believed by a majority
of the public–or even a significant minority–must be true. Palin
herself defended the fear-mongering over death panels thusly:
"Establishment voices dismissed that phrase, but it rang true for many
Americans." Well, that settles it.

Now, I'm not saying all opponents of health care reform are intellectually incoherent or totally misinformed, but…

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State

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