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HCR--A Republican Idea?

27 Mar 2010
Posted by Bruce Bartlett

That's what some Republican health policy experts are saying now that it's too late to matter. I bring this up because it relates very much to the point I raised yesterday about whether the American Enterprise Institute was muzzling its health experts--preventing them from saying publicly that they agreed with much of what Obama and congressional Democrats were doing. (See here and here.)

I would note that the main Republican expert quoted in the AP article linked to above is Mark Pauly, who is currently listed as an adjunct fellow of AEI. A quick Google News search turned up no instances in which Prof. Pauly noted the similarities between the Obama plan and those Republicans have advocated for years prior to passage of the health legislation.

I certainly don't think anyone at AEI told Pauly to keep his mouth shut about this. No one needed to. I'm sure he understood perfectly well that it would be counterproductive to Republicans had this point been made publicly. This sort of self-censorship is standard practice at all think tanks--you don't say things that hurt your side and help the other side even if you have no fear for losing your job as David Frum did. If what you believe would help your side's political enemies you say nothing or talk only off the record or just share your thoughts with those on your own side who will keep a confidence.

Every Washington think tank these days has an ideological/political tilt and everyone who works there knows perfectly well which side they are on. They work or are affiliated with it knowing that tilt and presumably agreeing with it. And these are smart people who don't need to have it explained to them explicitly what comments are helpful to their side and which ones aren't. This is the essence of the point I was trying to make about muzzling.

A more interesting question is why the Obama administration never pointed out the similarity between its proposals and Republican plans such as the one implemented by Mitt Romney in Massachusetts. I assume it is because it would be equally counterproductive to Democrats, costing votes among the party's left wing, which badly wanted the public option. Forcing them to acknowledge that their plan owed more to Republican ideas than Democratic ideas on health would have been like pouring salt in their wounds.

In the weeks to come I anticipate that many Republican health experts will acknowledge that HCR owes much to their thinking and little at all to liberal ideas. These Republicans will explain that HCR just needs a little tweaking and gradually talk leaders of their party out of repealing it. These leaders already know that isn't going to happen anyway, but their public posture will be that HCR must be repealed as long as it animates the Republican base going into November's elections.

purge the rottenness out of the system

I'd like to make the point that the media is a huge part of our broken discourse, as well as our PR firms that claim the title "think tank."

This is a story we could have read a week or six months ago. Instead we got "some say it will expand access to health insurance; others say it's a blend of fascism, bribery, and incest" for a year. People wound up telling pollsters that they didn't like the proposal, even though on the issues they liked everything in the bill except the mandate.

The media calls one Democratic rep and one Republican for a quote from each, then AEI, then Brookings, then calls it a day.

It's "balanced," but it isn't objective, it isn't reporting, and it isn't useful information.

(Also, right now I have "voluntarily sheol" as a Captcha combination, easily the strangest one I've ever read. I'll rage against the dying of the light, personally, but thanks for the suggestion, Internet.)


The similarities may not have been trumpeted by the Democrats or the media but they have been noted by such left leaning economists as DeLong, Krugman etc. It's particularily ironic in light of Scott Brown's election to Ted Kennedy's senate seat in the land of Romneycare.

Keep digging. That's the

Keep digging. That's the ticket.

whose honest?

It seems the only honest people in the public debate are the citizens .. the country is really being betrayed by the political class and the journalist class and the intellectual class. When the county collapses financially, we will know who BS'd us into collapse ....

I don't get it why you are siding with the worst of the political class and intellectual class Bruce -- and attacking those who are siding with the citizens who are calling BS on the corrupt class of the elite.

Greg Ransom

Your comment has no actual substance. If you want to make an actual policy-related argument or rebuttal to something Bartlett said, do it, no one's stopping you. As it is, you're just throwing a bunch of populist buzzwords and meaningless generalizations around.


Two stories featured on Instapundit today add background to
my substance. A majority of Americans believe that the tea party movement is in better touch with reality than Congress. And in a related story gov workers make 45% more than the wealth/tax producing private sector workers, and the massive state budget shortfalls around thencounty the country would be eliminate dif gov workers were but on a private economy budget.

Bruce has switched sides, and now advocates for tax programs to feed the gov worker beast -- and he rails against those who represent the tea partiers against the power elite in Congress.

Given his history, all of this seems crazy -- and makes one wonder if one purely personal issue hasn't distorted his perception of the larger issues facing America.

Being the intellectual vanguard of an unsustainable pathological kleptocracy is not an intellectually respectable place to be, and it can't be justified by saying "the Republicans have been irresponsible".

The irresponsibility of the Republicans is nothing compared to the irresponsibility of the Democrats, and one mans personal problems doesn't change that.

Greg, Really...

Greg, you really couldn't make any less sense.
Manipulative writing with no logical links.
You state unrelated[and vague] things then conclude whatever you like while making ugly personal attacks.
Please stop this spammer.
Thank you.

Fcat Checked

PolitiFact checked that claim. You are incorrect. You need to re-evaluate your position based on that bogus information.

I think

the link was in reference to Greg's post

I'd just like Bruce to be

I'd just like Bruce to be clear about his end game -- and his real beef with the Obama opposition.

I'm with Kling when he writes this:

"The health care legislation represents a culmination of a sequence of unpopular major initiatives from Washington. First, there was Henry Paulson’s massive transfer of wealth from the people most hurt by the financial crisis to some of the people most responsible for it. Next, came the massive, ill-conceived stimulus bill, which was not timely, targeted, or temporary but instead a pure power grab by Washington. Health care legislation is merely the latest straw.

The American people are watching their country being transformed from an exceptional, vibrant free economy to a broken European welfare state"

The country is slamming into a brick wall in slow motion.

The Kemp / Reagan tax cuts without spending cuts program didn't stop us from slamming into the brick wall -- and Bush really merely doubled down on the essential Kemp program of expanding government while cutting taxes.

So now we got to a VAT and a European system as the "solution"?

I don't get it.

It shouldn't be so hard to explain how all this makes sense -- and to do so leaving hate for the old and dying Bush/GOP establishment out of the story.

will do

I've been a loyal reader for years. Will stay tuned.

There are few commentators worth reading -- whatever else, you've always been worth reading.

A Better Healthcare Strategy for Republicans

Bruce, I agree with you that a good chunk of HCR are Republican based ideas. This is the exact point I attempt to make in my post here:

In general, I think that Republicans need to quickly back away from the repeal effort. Once the average American begins to experience this healthcare legislation, they are going to like it and Republicans will be on the wrong side of the argument. Instead, Republicans should focus their attention on making healthcare as financially stable as possible. Nobody wants to see the U.S. expand the federal deficit, and using their political capital to push for a more fiscally responsible system will put Republicans on the right side of the argument. Furthermore, it will reposition Republicans from being the party of “no” to the party of ideas.

In the weeks to come I

In the weeks to come I anticipate that many Republican health experts will acknowledge that HCR owes much to their thinking and little at all to liberal ideas.

That's as likely to happen as it is Bruce admitting that Medicare Part D passed on a bipartisan vote in the Senate with 11 Democrats voting aye.

Yes, Health Care Reform owes a lot to Republican ideas-- the kind of moderate Republican ideas (especially those of "we need to pass something now and co-opt moderate Democrats so that the Democrats won't pass something further to the left") that lead to both RomneyCare and Medicare Part D.

Bruce started out being upset at Medicare Part D. He's apparently evolved to the point where he sees Medicare Part D as a model for Republican politics. I agreed wholeheartedly with Bruce's book on Bush, but I don't understand his recent position.

Frum, of course, is consistent. He favored Medicare Part D and RomneyCare as intelligent compromises that stole the issue from Democrats. It's unfortunate for him that the Republican establishment and grassroots has turned against those idea.

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