The Republican health care contradiction
April 19, 2017 3 Comments
Not quite sure what occasioned this from Ezra this week, as much has already said by him and others last month, but it’s a great succinct summary, so I’m going with it, too:
The most interesting policy argument in America right now is the debate between conservatives’ real position on health care and their fake position.
The fake, but popular, position goes something like this: Conservatives think everyone deserves affordable health insurance, but they disagree with Democrats about how to get everyone covered at the best price. This was the language that surrounded Paul Ryan and Donald Trump’s Obamacare alternative — an alternative that crashed and burned when it came clear that it would lead to more people with worse (or no) health insurance and higher medical bills.
Conservatives’ real, but unpopular, position on health care is quite different, and it explains their behavior much better. Their real position is that universal coverage is a philosophically unsound goal, and that blocking Democrats from creating a universal health care system is of overriding importance. To many conservatives, it is not the government’s role to make sure everyone who wants health insurance can get it, and it would be a massive step toward socialism if that changed…
There has not, in recent political memory, been a national Republican leader who actually argued that the American health care consensus was wrong and it was simply not the government’s job to ensure every American could get health insurance…
Republicans need to realize their problem isn’t poor legislative leadership or dissident House conservatives. It’s that they’ve been hiding their real health care position for decades, and so there’s no public support for the bills that actually achieve their goals. Either they need to change what they believe, and move toward the kinds of policies Roy proposes, or they need to begin the hard work of actually persuading the public that not everyone who wants health insurance should be able to get it.
Yep, yep, yep. Also reminded me of a Chait post a few weeks ago I forgot to blog about:
But in the long run, these policy defects may be overshadowed by the ACA’s great political achievement: popularizing the idea that the government should guarantee health care to its citizens as a right.
This is not a radical idea. Every other advanced democracy arrived at it long ago, and many Americans already subscribed to the notion before Obamacare was ever introduced.
But as the Trumpcare debate illustrated, the ACA grew the constituency for government-provided health care while fostering the American public’s sense of entitlement to affordable insurance.
The GOP anticipated this development, which is why it fought so hard, on so many fronts, to kill the law. When those efforts failed, for short-term political gain, many Republicans chose not to attack Obamacare’s core premise — that the government should facilitate universal access to basic health care — but rather to attack the law for failing to realize that left-wing ideal…
The Republicans didn’t just lose the battle on health care — they lost the war.