I’ve said before how I’m disgusted with the Republican party. I’m particularly disgusted with their reaction to the health care bill. Look, I respect principle, even when I disagree with it. But their opposition to it wasn’t about principle. It was about opposition, pure and simple. And we know this because the very things they oppose on supposed philosophical grounds they once supported themselves.
If you want you can go way back to 1971, when Nixon proposed that all employers be required to provide health care insurance to their employees, with subsidies for poorer individuals that can’t afford it and more regulation of the industry. That would have been a far greater intrusion of the government into the health care industry.
But we can get more specific and current than that. For example, one big Republican criticism of the bill is the individual mandate – the requirement that people get health insurance or pay a fine. An encroachment on personal liberty, they say. You know where that idea originated? From Republicans. They floated the idea in a 1993 Senate bill, as an alternative to the Clinton health care plan. There continued to be conservative support for it; in 2003, the Heritage foundation published an article supporting an individual mandate with subsidies for the poor – which Republicans now criticize about Obamacare. And the Heritage Foundation is a pretty hard right organization. It’s the type of group Henry would cite. It’s was a Republican idea before; now it’s socialism? Huh?
To his credit, Mitt Romney still supports an individual mandate, rightly recognizing that’s it’s essential in making a free market health care system work. To his discredit, he criticizes Obamacare when it’s in every important aspect almost exactly what he himself instituted in Massachusetts when he was governor. They’re both attempts to provide near universal coverage through a combination of mandates, subsidies, and cost-control measures. They’re the same thing. It was great when he did it, but terrible when Obama does it?
As far as the health care plan goes, Republicans are for aspects of it when they propose it, but against the very same aspects now. That’s not principle. It’s bush.
As far as their complaints about it being an expansion of government and that it will lead to the end of the world – they said the same thing when the government created Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. And their track record of complaints on this front is pretty poor. Those programs were wildly successful (in accomplishing what they were meant to – eliminating widespread poverty among the old) and are wildly popular today. They’re by no means perfect, and both need reforming, but they’re effective and popular. When people get certain “expansion of government”, they find that it’s good and that they like it. And our country has thrived pretty well (so far) since they were enacted.
As far as the criticisms of fiscal irresponsibility, it’s absurd coming from Republicans. Menzie Chinn has a chart that shows the impact on the federal of Bush’s tax cuts, the Iraq/Afghanistan wars, and the health care plan. As far as the fiscal effect goes, it’s not even close. So Republicans harping about fiscal responsibility is a little absurd.