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Revenge Of The RINOs?: Moderate Republicans In Congress Starting To Rebel

Moderate members of the House Republican Caucus are starting to speak out about the direction that Speaker John Boehner has let the caucus drift in response to pressure from Tea Party representatives and conservatives:

As Republicans prepare for yet another show vote on abortion Tuesday, Speaker John Boehner and his leadership team are facing a rising tide of frustration from Republican moderates angry over the rightward tack the conference has taken under his leadership.

Tuesday’s abortion vote – which would ban late term abortions in the District of Columbia – has rubbed a number of moderates wrong. Given that the bill may not pass the House – and would never be taken up by the Senate – moderates and even some conservatives have questioned leadership’s decision to force another vote on a divisive social issue rather than remain solely focused on the economy.

(…)

According to Republicans, moderate members of the House GOP conference feel that Boehner, who has struggled with an often raucous and openly defiant right wing, has forced them to go along with conservative demands but has provided them little in return.

One Republican familiar with the dynamics within the GOP argued part of the difficulty for Boehner has been the fact that conservatives — and not moderates — have been the “squeaky wheel” within the conference, which has forced him to focus on them for much of the 112th Congress.

Rather than work with his entire conference Boehner has had to “prove to conservatives constantly that he’s advocating for them and not screwing them behind their backs,” the Republican said.

(…)

And the decision by Majority Leader Eric Cantor to schedule several votes on abortion, reaffirming that the nation’s motto is, in fact, “In God We Trust” and other social issues has angered moderates for more than a year.

These sentiments were echoed in public statements by two Republican Congressmen, both of whom blasted the House GOP for being to willing to indulge the demands and whims of the extreme wing of the party. First up, was New York Congressman Bill Hanna:

U.S. Rep. Richard Hanna took his own party to task today, saying the Republican Party is too willing to accommodate its most extreme members.

“I have to say that I’m frustrated by how much we — I mean the Republican Party — are willing to give deferential treatment to our extremes in this moment in history,” he told The Post-Standard editorial board.

Hanna, R-Barneveld, pointed specifically to Michele Bachmann of Minnesota — particularly her suggestion that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin be investigated to see if she has ties to Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood that would compromise her loyalty.

Hanna, a businessman who defeated Democratic incumbent Michael Arcuri two years ago, said his first term in Congress left him “sad in a lot of ways” because of the growing divisiveness on both sides of the aisle.

“We render ourselves incapable of governing when all we do is take severe sides…” he said. “If all people do is go down there and join a team, and the team is invested in winning and you have something that looks very similar to the shirts and the skins, there’s not a lot of value there.”

While he blamed the dysfunction on both sides, he said he feels more bitterness coming from the Republican caucus than from the Democrats.

“I would say that the friends I have in the Democratic Party I find … much more congenial — a little less anger,” he said.

Then, today, Congressmen Steve LaTourette of Ohio, who has served ten terms in Congress and abruptly announced his retirement on Monday, said that the reason he’s leaving Congress because he did not believe he could get things done given the current atmosphere in Congress:

“I have reached the conclusion that the atmosphere today and the reality that exists in the House of Representatives no longer encourages the finding of common ground,” he said.

LaTourette told reporters that to rise in party ranks, politicians must now hand over “your wallet and your voting card” to party extremes and he was uninterested.

(…)

He cited two specific issues that contributed to his decision–Congress’s struggle in passing a new highway funding bill and its failure to reach a bipartisan deficit reduction deal.

Long an advocate of increased infrastructure spending, LaTourette said he was “horribly disappointed” in the debate over the transportation funding bill, calling it an “embarrassment” to the institution that a bipartisan bill approved by the Senate was not handily approved in the House.

A long-term funding bill ultimately passed, but only after months of internal Republican strife.

“We’re talking about about building roads and bridges for Chrissakes,” he said, adding that he had come to believe his Congressional colleagues have become “more interested in fighting with each other than getting the no-brainers done and governing.”

The tensions between what are loosely called mainline Republicans and the Tea Party crowd have been an ongoing topic since the Tea Party itself became a thing, but it’s pretty much only been a one sided battle. Thanks in no small part to superior energy, enthusiasm, and organization, the Tea Party has spent two years riding roughshod over traditional Republicans from Delaware to Nevada Utah to Indiana and, possibly tonight, Texas. In 2010 at least, it seemed to take the people who were targeted by surprise as we saw such long standing elected officials and Bob Bennett, Mike Castle, and Lisa Murkowski fall in primaries to Tea Party backed candidates. Murkowski managed to get the last laugh, of course, by staging the first successful write-in campaign for Senate since Strom Thurmond did it in 1954. For the most part, though, 2010 saw the Tea Party and the staunch conservative wing of the GOP stage a mini-coup inside its own party.

After watching the last two years in Congress, it’s easy to see why guys like LaTourette (who has long been a close ally of John Boehner’s, by the way) and Hanna are frustrated. Instead of getting legislation passed or dealing with issues that are coming at as with the speed of an oncoming freight train like the Fiscal Cliff, the House spends time on completely symbolic nonsense that they know will never become law and may not even see the light of day in the Senate. For example, the House has passed bills to repeal all or parts of the Affordable Care Act some 33 times since January 2011. None of them have any chance of being passed by the Senate. What is the purpose of continuing to vote on such bills? As I said the last time the House did this, I don’t think there’s anyone in America who doesn’t know by now that the GOP would like to repeal the PPACA, engaging in another pointless vote doesn’t seem to accomplish anything. Equally frustrating no doubt, has been the continual inability of both Houses of Congress to come together and work out differences on bills that do need to be passed. The Conference Committee, once a staple of Washington politics, is now pretty much dead and that’s the fault of the leadership in both the Senate and the House.

LaTourette would have been easily re-elected if he had stood for re-election in November and, thanks to redistricting, he’ll likely be replaced by another Republican. What kind of Republican he will be replaced with is another question. Most likely it will be someone less inclined to do the kind of working across aisles, and across, the House-Senate divide, that good legislators ought to be doing. One suspects, though, that LaTourette and Hanna aren’t alone in their sentiments. Whether others will speak up, and whether this is the beginning of more assertiveness from traditional Republicans remains to be seen. However, since the GOP cannot survive as a party representing only one small part of its center-right ideology, Republicans ought to hope that it is.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Interesting. Does Romney have time to become a moderate and hop on board?

    (I’m for it of course. I was a moderate Republican before I bailed for independence.)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 2

  2. Tsar Nicholas says:

    Well, this sort of thing becomes a cause celebre, at least in the mind’s eye of the national Democrat media, every election cycle. In the mid-1990′s they were quoting people dissatisfied with Gingrich, Armey and DeLay. In the mid-2000′s they were ginning up indications of dissatisfaction with Hastert and DeLay. Now it’s dissatisfaction with Boehner and Cantor. In 10 years, especially if the GOP then holds the House majority, it’ll be the revolt of the moderates against whomever at that time leads the caucus. So on, so forth. Agendas are not merely for meetings.

    Regarding the whole Tea Party meme, color me unimpressed. There are major differences between primary contests in extremely low population states (AK, DE, NV) and our politics at large. There are major differences bertween runoff primaries in the dead of summer (TX) and regular elections. There are major differences bertween House elections in low-density districts and our politics at large. Granted, if the likes of Sharron Angle or Michele Bachmann at some point were to become the GOP presidential nominee then, yeah, of course, that’ll mean the inmates took over the asylum. Until then, however, it’s much ado about not too much.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 6 Thumb down 19

  3. Latino_in_Boston says:

    Well, moderate Republican office holders are already a rare species. If the party is not careful so will those voters.

    I know several who continue to vote Republican even though they don’t agree with much of their agenda anymore. In some cases, it’s low information, in others, force of habit, but little by little they have begun to question the GOP. In other words, it’s holding on by a thread. Republicans better hope these voters continue to come out for them, because Fox News won’t be able to save them.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 2

  4. PGlenn says:

    @john personna: you’re fair and reasonable, so I’ll ask you this . . .

    For years, we heard from critics on the left – among other criticisms – that much of the Republican Party wasn’t really in favor of the “free market” so much as handouts to big business, etc.

    Well, along came the “Tea Party” movement, which can be quite diverse (or at times confused) ideologically at times, but which has been fairly consistent in criticizing the traditional “pro-business” style corporatism of the establishment/moderate GOP.

    When old-guard members of the GOP establishment responded by accusing their intra-party critics of being “extremists,” the left gleefully helped publicize the counterattacks.

    Granted, the GOP establishment and the left have many other reasons to criticize the Tea Party besides the Tea Party attacks on GOP establishment corporatism, but shouldn’t the left at least support those critiques?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 8

  5. C. Clavin says:

    Hey…Obama is a moderate Republican.
    This could be a good thing!!!

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 22 Thumb down 2

  6. PGlenn says:

    @Latino_in_Boston: On what issues has the Republican Party become more radical/extreme as compared to 10, 20, or 30 years ago?

    Or, has the Republican Party not shifted to the left as fast as the Democrat Party has and therefore, relatively speaking, it has become more of a right-wing party?

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 28

  7. @PGlenn:

    but which has been fairly consistent in criticizing the traditional “pro-business” style corporatism of the establishment/moderate GOP.

    Well, there rhetoric has been. In terms of action they’ve fought every effort to cut subsidies to their preferred companies.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 22 Thumb down 2

  8. de stijl says:

    LaTourette is retiring. I could think of more effective ways of rebelling.

    Of course, all of the remaining rebels are just going to get primaried from the right next go-round.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

  9. Latino_in_Boston says:

    @PGlenn:

    Just listen to those retiring. But I can give you lots of examples.

    Immigration – Reagan passed immigration reform that allowed some path to legalization for those here illegally. Bush 41 supported something akin to that. Today, that’d get you booed or kicked out of the party.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ixi9_cciy8w

    Health Care – Nixon first proposed health care reform that is way to the Left of what Obama proposed. (Nixon even created the EPA!)

    http://www.kaiserhealthnews.org/stories/2009/september/03/nixon-proposal.aspx

    It would have expanded Medicare and created the equivalent of a public option national insurance. Later when Clinton proposed his plan, the Republicans came up with the individual mandate which Romney later passed in Massachusetts. It used to be pretty uncontroversial, but when Obama proposed it it quickly became a sign of tyranny. So much so that even Romney has had to back off his own plan.

    Taxes – Both Reagan and Bush allowed tax raises to close down the deficit. Today no Republican is willing to say they would support that even in a trade of 90% cuts and 10% tax increases.

    Abortion – There used to be a number of pro-choice Republican office holders. Today, I can’t think of a single one currently in office.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 37 Thumb down 2

  10. MBunge says:

    Is this about moderates vs. conservatives or reasonable people vs. fanatics?

    Mike

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 2

  11. Moosebreath says:

    PGlenn,

    “On what issues has the Republican Party become more radical/extreme as compared to 10, 20, or 30 years ago?”

    For starters:

    1. Taxes. While never strongly in favor of higher taxes, Republicans in the 80′s recognized that deficit reduction includes tax increases (see Reagan’s tax increases in nearly every year of his presidency after the first). Now, Republicans have to promise no increases on anyone at any time to be elected.

    2. Medicare. Something like the Ryan plan, which caps the government’s contribution, so that if medical costs rise faster than inflation (which has run roughly double the rate of inflation for at least the last 30 years), the beneficiaries pay the extra charge, would never have been proposed in the past few decades.

    3. Health insurance. Obama’s health plan was proposed originally by a Republican think-tank, and receive the endorsements of all manner of GOP heavyweights in the 90′s. Four years ago, Romney was running on his passage of a similar plan while governor. Now, it is the very definition of Marxism in GOP circles.

    4. Defense spending. I recall when Caspar Weinberger was called Cap the Knife for how he planned to reduce the defense budget. Now, any discussion of reduction to it is considered beyond the pale.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 33 Thumb down 2

  12. Moosebreath says:

    Can my comment be released from moderation purgatory?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

  13. C. Clavin says:

    “…On what issues has the Republican Party become more radical/extreme as compared to 10, 20, or 30 years ago?”

    Um…
    Foreign policy and pre-emptive attacks, invasion and occupation.
    Institutionalization of torture.
    Tax policy…no revenue increases ever.
    Spending levels…Proposed Romney/Ryan budget levels are draconian compared to any previous Republican administration.
    Eliminating Medicare.
    How many examples do you want?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 2

  14. sam says:

    @PGlenn:

    Granted, the GOP establishment and the left have many other reasons to criticize the Tea Party besides the Tea Party attacks on GOP establishment corporatism, but shouldn’t the left at least support those critiques?

    Some on what is termed the left are not in thrall to corporatism. Ross Douthat quotes Chris Hays writing in the Nation on “the free-floating left-wing anxiety about the Obama-era marriage of Big Business and Big Government”:

    In the wake of the healthcare sausage-making, writers from Tim Carney on the right (author of the provocative Obamanomics) and Glenn Greenwald on the left have attacked the bill as the latest incarnation of corporatism, a system they see as the true enemy. There is even some talk among activists of a grand left-right populist coalition coming together to depose the entrenched interests that hold sway in Washington. Jane Hamsher of Firedoglake touted her work with libertarians to oppose Ben Bernanke, more AIG bailouts and the Senate healthcare bill (“What we agree on: both parties are working against the interests of the public, the only difference is in the messaging”)

    The “left” and the “right” are crude conceptual instruments with which to analyze a lot of the responses to our collective predicament. Some on what we would call the right are corporatists though and though (see anything written by Steve Bainbridge, for example). Some on what we would call the left are staunch anti-corporatists, as Hays’s piece shows.

    It really is mostly gray out there, I think.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 2

  15. wr says:

    @Tsar Nicholas: “. Agendas are not merely for meetings.
    Regarding the whole Tea Party meme, color me unimpressed.”

    Amazing. They look like words. They’re spelled just like read words. And yet when strung together in this way, they have absolutely no meaning at all. It’s like Tsar is actually a malfunctioning computer programming randomly combining sequences of cliched political phrases into paragraphs and posting them.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 3

  16. MarkedMan says:

    The point is that the moderates are leaving and are replaced by more partisan candidates. That’s the GOP reality.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 2

  17. sam says:

    My comment was caught in spaminator, Doug. Could you spring it? TIA.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  18. sam says:

    Jeepers. What’s up with the spam thingy?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  19. sam,

    Done. There appears to be something odd going on with Askimet, the spam filter, this afternoon. Not sure of the cause at this time.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  20. MarkedMan says:

    Whoa. Why the heck has my comment been queued? There is absolutely nothing untoward about it. Is it because I’m posting from China?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  21. Craigo says:

    10 years? Hell, just a few months ago, Republicans supported disclosure of political contributions. Now the DISCLOSE act is the latest assault on liberty blah blah.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 1

  22. wr says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Yes, and when it released my comment from the spam filter, it put typos in there! I see a vast conspiracy.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  23. Jeremy R says:

    @PGlenn:

    On what issues has the Republican Party become more radical/extreme as compared to 10, 20, or 30 years ago?

    How about holding sacred the active right to vote?

    http://www.tampabay.com/news/politics/national/jim-greer-denounces-florida-republican-party-officials-as-liars-and/1242157

    In a wide-ranging deposition that spanned two days in late May, former Florida Republican Party chairman Jim Greer denounced some party officials as liars and “whack-a-do, right-wing crazies” as he described turmoil in the months before his resignation.

    Greer said some GOP leaders were meeting to discuss ways they could suppress black votes while others were constantly scheming against each other.

    “I was upset because the political consultants and staff were talking about voter suppression and keeping blacks from voting. It had been one of those days.”

    Oh, and Greer’s deposition also provided a window onto a previous moderate that was driven from the GOP and the rise of the Tea Party:

    http://blogs.miaminewtimes.com/riptide/2012/07/former_florida_gop_chair_says.php

    Greer shed light on what was going on in the RPOF during the emergence of the Tea Party.

    “The Tea Party came into existence,” he said. “There was a feeling within the party that the Tea Party was just a bunch of whack-a-dos.”

    Charlie Crist apparently had become increasingly frustrated with the direction of his own party. Greer urged Crist to make better use party resources while he was running for Senate while still a Republican.

    “He told me to f– the party,” he said. “They were a bunch of crazies. And they did nothing to win elections.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

  24. PD Shaw says:

    LaTourette is not resigning because of something specific to his own party. It’s about bi-partisan gridlock:

    He cited two specific issues that contributed to his decision–Congress’s struggle in passing a new highway funding bill and its failure to reach a bipartisan deficit reduction deal.

    On highway funding, the Democrats wanted a portion of the infrastructure spending to go to conservation and new bike paths, and not as we keep hearing about, the rapidly deteriorating condition of our roads and bridges. The Republicans wanted to tie infrastructure to the XL pipeline.

    On Simpson-Bowles, neither Obama, nor any Congressional leader of either party has given support.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 2

  25. Yes. The problem of the GOP is not that the party moved to the right, but that the party is composed by Partisan hacks, not by principled conservatives. A GOP filled with Tom Coburns and Jeff Flakes would be much of a problem.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 3

  26. @PGlenn:

    Well, along came the “Tea Party” movement, which can be quite diverse (or at times confused) ideologically at times, but which has been fairly consistent in criticizing the traditional “pro-business” style corporatism of the establishment/moderate GOP.

    Perhaps, but I never would have named that as the Tea Party focus. It started with Rick Santelli’s rant against loan modifications, right? I’m listening to it now … he talks about “losers mortgages.”

    It broke out from there to be very much an anti-bailout thing, and then an anti-socialism thing. That where anti-socialism was defined as keeping programs they liked, demanding that other people cut other spending and etc.

    If it looked anti-corporate it was only because it was anti-bailout and that rolled over to be anti-GM. Hell, they’re anti-Volt now. (I could see them hating the tax credit, but they take it upon themselves to hate the actual car.)

    When old-guard members of the GOP establishment responded by accusing their intra-party critics of being “extremists,” the left gleefully helped publicize the counterattacks.

    You threaten to default on the nations bonds and people will call you “extremists,” sure.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 1

  27. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @PGlenn:

    On what issues has the Republican Party become more radical/extreme as compared to 10, 20, or 30 years ago?

    You richly deserve the 77,777,777,777,777 lashes from a wet noodle you are receiving for even asking such an asinine question.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 1

  28. Herb says:

    Went down to Arizona last week and had the opportunity to watch some attack ads. Very interesting dynamic down there. Doesn’t seem to be much opposition coming from the left, but Jeff Flake is sure getting a lot of flack from the right, so much so that he had to recruit John Kyl to show up in his ads.

    It’s a dog eat dog world, I guess…..

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  29. @Herb:

    Doesn’t seem to be much opposition coming from the left, but Jeff Flake is sure getting a lot of flack from the right, so much so that he had to recruit John Kyl to show up in his ads.

    Yes. That shows that the problem is not lack of conservatism, but lack of partisanship.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  30. Tillman says:

    Those two should’ve pulled a Souter: stay in office as long as possible until the headwinds change, then retire.

    The GOP needs moderates to counteract the rising extremism, not moderates who jump ship.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

  31. Latino_in_Boston says:

    @Tillman:

    I agree somewhat with this. The problem is that in the House there’s very little power in comparison with the Supreme Court, so it’s far more frustrating.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  32. Ron Beasley says:

    The problem with the tea party politicians is they are all:
    1) Bat shit crazy
    2) Not very bright
    3)All of the above

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 3

  33. al-Ameda says:

    Let the hand wringing begin. The public obviously prefers that there be very few moderates. How do we know this? Simple, voters are voting for intemperate and immoderate legislators.

    This can be rationalized in a lot of ways too – reapportionments that gerrymander districts to favor strong partisan party affiliation, or that primary turnout always favors party activists who tend to be the most active partisans, etc.

    Whatever the rationalization, voters are not voting for moderates.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 2

  34. PGlenn says:

    @Moosebreath: Sorry, I’m not convinced.

    Taxes: neither party has been eager to enact new taxes for some years now. Obama ran on a middle-class tax cut (although the tax savings were minimal). The Democrats like to grandstand, while utilizing their class warfare tactics, by demanding tax cuts on millionaires, etc., even though the upper 10 percent pay the lion’s share of tax revenues as it is and even though such increases would have minimal effect on the deficit.

    Entitlement reform: again with both parties, it’s mostly rhetoric, yet some adjustments will have to be made. What Republicans have proposed on this front have been relatively modest.

    Heath Care: I’m not impressed that a think tank was one of the sources proposing an individual mandat during the Clinton era HC debates. What was that – policy idea #13,483 out of 345,829?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 16

  35. PGlenn says:

    @C. Clavin: I’m seeing two good arguments in this thread from the progressives for why the GOP would be attacked by the “moderates” for drifting in a direction that the moderates perceive to be “extremist.” First, that it’s more a matter of hyper-partisanship than a rightward shift, per se. Not sure if I agree, but that’s definitely worthy of deeper investigation.

    Then I think you might be on the right track on another good point, although we’d disagaree on how much it’s a GOP phenomenon:

    Post 9/11 security measures. I see these though as mostly tacitly, if not expressly, supported by much of the Democratic Party, especially since Obama took office (and despite all the handwringing during the GWB administration).

    Another reasonable point others have made – abortion policy. But the nation has drifted ever so slightly “right” on this issue.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  36. PGlenn says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: You’re a complete waste of time. Henceforth, I will ignore you, but that should give you more time to hit the ‘shine.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 8

  37. anjin-san says:

    Hell, they’re anti-Volt now.

    Worse than that. A lot of conservatives seem to actively hate GM and hope that it fails.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 2

  38. Latino_in_Boston says:

    @PGlenn:

    Of course you’re not convinced. If your world view is that the Dems have moved way to the Left, it follows that you think that the Dems have not moved at all. I doubt that anyone could show you evidence that would convince you, but since I’m apparently love lost causes, I’ll try again.

    First, in order to consider your question, you have to compare the GOP to itself, not to the Dems. You have to see what they used to propose and what they are proposing now. If they championed things in the past that were further to the right or to the left that are not anathema that tells you which way the party has moved. So back to taxes. The GOP was never in favor of raising taxes per se, but were willing to negotiate with the Dems. Today they are not willing to consider that at all. The current big debate is what to do with the Bush tax cuts. The GOP position is that they will not accept any negotiation, all Bush tax cuts should be extended permanently. Period.

    As to healthcare, it’s not that it was proposal #45638, it was THE proposal to counter the Clinton plan.

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/aroy/2012/02/07/the-tortuous-conservative-history-of-the-individual-mandate/

    And as I mentioned earlier, prior to that their proposals, the one championed by Nixon, no less, was much, much further to the Left. In 2008, Nixon’s plan was so way to the Left, that the White House refused to even considered it, because they knew it would not pass, angering liberals (of course, the Dems didn’t pass Nixon’s plan because in the 70s they didn’t want a public option, they wanted an extension of Medicare).

    Finally, in terms of entitlement reform. Right now, Medicare is a guarantee to all people who paid into the system. The guarantee is that we will pay most of your health care costs once you turn 65. What the GOP is proposing is to get rid of this guarantee, and changing it with a voucher with which you would buy private insurance (basically turning Medicare into Obamacare, which is kind of ironic). If you think that’s moderate, what would be radical?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 3

  39. Latino_in_Boston says:

    In the first sentence above, I meant to say: it follows that you think that the GOP has not moved at all.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

  40. Herb says:

    @André Kenji de Sousa:

    “That shows that the problem is not lack of conservatism, but lack of partisanship. “

    Yep, and when his opponent (can’t remember his name now) said he would never vote to raise the debt ceiling, he was betraying the fact that he’s not even conservative.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  41. michael reynolds says:

    Boehner is the one Newsweek ought to be calling a wimp. He’s a weakling being bitch-slapped by Cantor and the Loons.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 2

  42. PGlenn says:

    @Latino_in_Boston: Many good points – reasonable criticisms.concerns.

    As I’ve mentioned on other threads, I see the modern world as hyper-complex, so that most of the socioeconomic problems we try to “solve” via policy are too complicated to solve. One way that we cope with hyper-complexity is through ideology. Most voters know little about politics or policy, but they’re also not then going to be ideologues. Whereas the more knowledgeable someone is, the more ideological one tends to be. Very knowledgeable people are usually ideologues.

    I’m not knowledgeable enough about politics/policy to be a full-blown ideologue, but – for both better and worse – I don’t doubt that I’m moving in that direction.

    The part I’d question, though, is that you imply you’re not captive to ideology.

    As for your specific points:

    On taxes, again, it sounds like you’re describing gridlock and hyper-partisanship more than a drift right per se. I think you’re right that the country/public has become more resistant to tax increases, but maybe that’s partly due to other factors – increasing costs of consumer goods, local.state tax burderns possibly increasing, etc. You might even blame it partly on the last few decades of “successful” GOP political marketing on the issue, but then both Dems and Republicans are beholden to that new climate and it also suggests that Republicans did much of the work on this issue well before the supposed recent “extremist” drift in the GOP.

    I’ve also conceded in other threads that Nixon/Rockefeller Republicans were “law & order” progressives of a sort. Yes, the Tea Party is to the right of those folks, at least on economic issues (although not on social issues).

    I still do not concede, however, that a sizable segment of the “conservative” elements within the GOP have ever supported an individual mandate.

    Medicare is unsustainable. Recognizing that is not an extremist step. Any Medicare reform proposal – whether devised by Reps or Dems – will always be demonized as “extremist,” etc., unless it’s a bipartisan product.

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  43. Latino_in_Boston says:

    True, but if he does anything else, he’ll just get demoted Michael. Eric Cantor as Speaker might be even worse.

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  44. C. Clavin says:

    @pGlenn…Reagan couldn’t get elected today. You can spin away all you want…Republicans for the most part are way off the starboard rail. And the guy that sent 30 million new clients to the private insurance companies is a socialist.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 2

  45. C. Clavin says:

    @ PGlenn…
    On taxes…Republicans have always been against taxes. But Reagan raised them significantly because it was necessary. Todays Republicans have taken a talking point and made it catechism. Offered the biggest deficit reduction deal in history they turned it down because it had a minor amount of revenue increase. Tomorrow they are likely going to deny 99% of the country a continued low tax rate in order to protect 1% of the countries taxpayers. This in spite of historically low taxes and a huge deficit. It’s Rand influenced extremism.

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  46. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Tsar Nicholas: You have no idea of how ironic these prattlings about the inmates taking over the asylum are coming from you–junior lackey to head inmate Eric F.

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  47. gVOR08 says:

    John Stanton, at the link, decried, “…leadership’s decision to force another vote on a divisive social issue rather than remain solely focused on the economy.” Remain?

    I guess, all things considered. I’d like to see the GOP moderates reassert themselves. The Party would be less scary if crazy people had less influence. The TP types are responsible for our downgraded debt rating from Moody’s. They are responsible for a lot of very silly anti choice legislation. I’m sure that given a free hand they’d do all sorts of pretty awful stuff.

    But, but, it wasn’t the Tea Party/Evangelicals who plunged the country into deficit by passing the Bush tax cuts and an unfunded Medicare drug benefit. It wasn’t the TP/E who mismanaged Afghanistan. It wasn’t the TP/E who decided derivatives shouldn’t be regulated. It wasn’t the TP/E who decided to invade Iraq for no compelling reason, and without having resolved Afghanistan. It wasn‘t the TP/E who didn’t raise taxes for two wars. It wasn‘t the TP/E who decided the Geneva Conventions didn’t apply to us. The Senate Majority Leader who decided his number one priority was to defeat Obama by obstructing the economic recovery isn’t a TP/E guy.

    Even if they purge or co-opt the TP, there will still be a lot of scary in the Republican Party.

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  48. Latino_in_Boston says:

    @PGlenn:

    You don’t concede that a significant part of the GOP was ever behind the mandate? As the story I linked to above makes clear, nearly half the Senate GOP co-sponsored it! Plus Newt Gingrich, the Speaker of the House. If that’s not a significant number, I don’t know what is.

    Nor was their support all that long ago. You have Mitt Romney doing that in MA, of course, but even more recently. In the middle of the negotiations for PPACA, Chuck Grassley, the leader of the Finance Committee, and as such the top GOP negotiator on health care, endorsed it.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=luEKDNns27w

    That happened in June. Only a few months later, once it looked like it might pass, Grassley along with all of the GOP was calling it socialism and tyranny, etc.

    So again, you have:

    Nixon (public option) —-> Gingrich and 1990s GOP (individual mandate)————>2012 No policy other than repeal. That would be movement to the right.

    And on taxes, again, you have to compare the GOP to itself, not to the Dems. If for example, you were trying to figure out if Massachusetts had become more liberal than it used to be, would you keep comparing it to Texas? No. The Dems are immaterial to the point. They could have renamed their party the communist party, and it wouldn’t say whether or not the GOP was more or less conservative. This is perhaps best exemplified by comparing Reagan to the present nominee:

    “We’re going to close the unproductive tax loopholes that allow some of the truly wealthy to avoid paying their fair share. These loopholes sometimes make it possible for millionaires to pay nothing, while a bus driver was paying 10 percent of his salary – and that’s crazy.” Reagan, June 1985

    “We also know that over 45 percent of the people in this country don’t pay income taxes at all, and we have to question whether that’s fair.” Eric Cantor, April 2012.

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  49. @Moosebreath: No, Weinberger was called Cap the Knife based on his time director of OMB under Nixon and HEW director.

    Rest of your post is right on.

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  50. C. Clavin says:

    @ PGlenn…
    Right now Republicans are denying millions of voters their Constitutional right to vote.
    Is that extreme enough in your eyes?

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  51. C. Clavin says:

    @ PGlenn…Medicare is sustainable….Health Care increases are unsustainable…and they affect far more than just Medicare. Changing Medicare to an under-funded voucher system fixes nothing…it only shifts costs. The PPACA takes steps to change the health care cost curve. Does it do enough? No. But not enough is better than nothing at all.

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  52. Ron Beasley says:

    @michael reynolds: Very true – he was never the sharpest knife in the kitchen. He became the top Republican in the house because the Bush Administration wanted mindless yes men.

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  53. mattb says:

    @C. Clavin:

    @pGlenn…Reagan couldn’t get elected today.

    Actually, this is an interesting point. And in the past I’ve said things similiar to it.

    There are a couple questions here:

    First, could Reagan get Elected in the general election today? The answer is probably still yes.

    The bigger question is could Reagan with the Republican nomination?
    That’s a more interesting one…

    Are we talking about Reagan running on his rhetoric back in 1979/80? The answer probably still is yes. And perhaps even win the nomination even more quickly…

    Are we talking about if Reagan had to run on his actual record and his stances after taking the presidency? If that’s the case, then things get far muddier.

    All that said, remember that the Republican party ended up choosing a Massachusetts moderate republican governor who, among other things, isn’t an evangelical or mainline protestant and passed Universal Healthcare (with a Mandate) at the State Level.

    All Romney had to do was adjust what his rhetoric to match the field. Chances are Reagan would have done that.

    So ultimately, the answer is, most likely: Yes — Reagan could win both the primary and the general election today (if current generations could get past the age thing).

    Now, if Romney loses in the Fall… then I think it’s really worth asking these questions again.

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  54. jan says:

    @mattb:

    Interesting critique on Reagan’s electability in the current political climate. His son Michael, has said he thought he couldn’t be elected. Reagan, though, was an interesting mixture of conservatism and pragmatism blended with a good-natured sense of human rooted in clear, shrewd core beliefs.

    While most here are lamenting the right turn of the republicans, I look at it as a political reaction to the sharp left turn taken by the dems. As they say: “Every action has a reaction.” And, the intransigence of the left has created a mirror image on the right.

    As for the sudden retirement of LaTourette — too much is being made of it. Someone said he has served 10 terms. Isn’t that long enough?

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  55. Herb says:

    @jan:

    “While most here are lamenting the right turn of the republicans, I look at it as a political reaction to the sharp left turn taken by the dems.”

    Wow…..if the Democrats circa 2012 qualify as a “sharp left turn,” then I’m not so sure you know what a “sharp left turn” really is. Think Russia 1917, or Venezuela under Chavez.

    The Democrats want to legalize gay marriage and raise tax rates a few points. Yes, it’s in complete contrast to the GOP….but it ain’t no “sharp left turn.”

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  56. @al-Ameda:

    This can be rationalized in a lot of ways too – reapportionments that gerrymander districts to favor strong partisan party affiliation, or that primary turnout always favors party activists who tend to be the most active partisans, etc.

    Whatever the rationalization, voters are not voting for moderates.

    No, that´s more complicated. In fact, when people talks about “moderates” they are talking about Conservative Democrats from the South and Liberal Republicans from the Northeast. These regional blocs were possible because elections were decided on a regional level. A Democrat could be elected in the South because all he needed to do was to convince his voters that he was a good Congressman, convince some businessmen and farmers to donate money and ignore the Party Leadership in tough votes.

    Today, a Congressional race is so expensive that is very difficult to win any race without any infusion of cash from outside. Worse, there are so many interest groups pouring money on all kinds of races, specially in rural districts and small states. So, any Congressman has to answer not only to people in his district, but to people like Al Sharpton, Grover Norquist, AFL-CIO, Club for Growth, Move on and whatever. Christine O´Donnell got the Senate Nomination because a dozen of outside groups began pouring money on a race on a very small state. Most of the Blue Dogs were crushed because they had to chose between the Liberals in the National Level and the voters on the regional level.

    By the way, there is no Moderate version of Sheldon Adelson or of George Soros. So, just follow the money. On the governors race, where there is less nationalization of elections, it´s easier to find reasonable people and Democrats being elected in very conservative states and Republicans being elected in very liberal states.

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  57. mattb says:

    @Herb:
    You beat me too it. @jan, I’d be really interested in what you think constitutes a “sharp left turn” on the part of the Dems.

    As has been raised numerous times before, if we look beyond the ACA towards Obama’s broader initiatives (using him as the proxy for the mainstream of the party) I have a really hard time seeing that sharp left turn so many keep talking about.

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  58. anjin-san says:

    I’d be really interested in what you think constitutes a “sharp left turn” on the part of the Dems.

    The answer is that it is whatever Fox and Limbaugh say it is. The Jans of the world long since outsourced their thinking to what passes for the intellectual headwaters of the conservative movement…

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  59. wr says:

    @jan: “Reagan, though, was an interesting mixture of conservatism and pragmatism blended with a good-natured sense of human rooted in clear, shrewd core beliefs. ”

    And a cheerful believer in the mass murder of Central American peasants by the dictators he armed. Oh, what a lovely and good natured man was he, as he signed the papers to train the death squads to murder the innocent. Oh, and he was religious, too. He only signed off on the murder of priests who did wacky things like help the poor in El Salvador.

    Clear, shrewd, core beliefs — he only sold advanced weapons to America’s sworn enemy Iran when it was convenient to him. And he loved democracy, except when democratic states elected the wrong people and he sent mercenaries to topple their leadership.

    Yes, a great, great man. I can see why you’re so fond of him.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  60. wr says:

    @mattb: Oh, for God’s sake. You’ve already learned that she’s a dishonest shill who will lie about anything and then lie about what she’s said. You’ve seen this. And now you’re trying to engage her in “honest” conversation, as if she’s anything but a shill.

    You don’t work for Third Way by any chance, do you?

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  61. al-Ameda says:

    @mattb:

    You beat me too it. @jan, I’d be really interested in what you think constitutes a “sharp left turn” on the part of the Dems.

    That “sharp left turn” was, essentially, the election of a moderate Black Democratic president.

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  62. sam says:

    @PGlenn:

    even though the upper 10 percent pay the lion’s share of tax revenues as it is

    Just an aside, but some folks might say that’s only just because the upper 10 percent do the lion’s share of rent-seeking (and are very successful at it) — and wouldn’t be the upper 10 percent but for that.

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  63. C. Clavin says:

    As Dan Akroyd said; Jan, you ignorant _____.
    Seldom is anyone so right, and so worng at the same time.
    Reagan absolutely was a mix of Conservatism and Pragmatism. Unfortunately today’s Republicans are neither Conservative, nor pragmatic. Hence Reagan’s own son saying he couldn’t be elected today.
    The Republican’s lurch to the far, far, extreme, right is absolutely a reaction…it is a reaction to the Democrats move to the center.
    Obama is the most Conservative candidate in this race. Need proof…Romney just stood in Israel and gave a full-throated endorsment of socialized Health Care. Obama, on the other hand, sent 30 million new customers to private insurance companies.

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  64. Stan says:

    @PGlenn: “even though the upper 10 percent pay the lion’s share of tax revenues as it is”

    Cheer up, PG, help is on the way! The headline for this Washington Post article

    http://tinyurl.com/d8vwt6q

    is “Study: Romney tax plan would result in cuts for rich, higher burden for others”

    As always, the GOP stands for social justice and the American way of life.

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  65. Tillman says:

    Reading this thread, I’m reminded of the old saw about how public memory of what goes on in government lasts about two years.

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  66. stonetools says:

    Its laughable to even discuss the question of whether the Republicans have moved rightward. While I think that Reagan would be capable of winning the nomination of todays Republican Party, I think it likely that Eisenhower, Ford, Rockefeller, “Poppy” Bush, and even Nixon would not. A Jacob Javits or a Charles Mathias would never win a Republican Senate primary and would have to run as Democrats.
    The Overton window has moved over so far that the only option for national health care insurance that was even considered was Bob Dole’s alternative to the 1993 Democratic plan-which was itself to the right of Nixon’s proposal. Going back to the tax rates of 1999 is considered impossibly socialist although rates were far higher in the past
    On social policy, there are virtually no pro choice Republicans left and the Republicans are reliably anti-gay rights . I really can’t understand how anyone can doubt the rightward lurch of the Republicans.

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  67. PGlenn says:

    @Latino_in_Boston: First, good start, but you still have a long way to go in proving that the individual mandate was widely supported among conservative Republicans.

    Second, it’d be even more difficult to “prove” that the IM is a conservative idea, which is a matter of interpretation. The idea might have been entertained and/or presented as policy concept, but until it was broadly debated among conservatives/ilbertarians as a serious, pending policy proposal, it was not really “tested” for acceptance as an idea. A good discussion of this point from a centrist analyst.

    Third, even if you could show that the idea was broady supported by conservative Republicans (not likely), what kind of “conservatism” would the IM represent? It might be consisent with two strands: 1). Paternalistic conservatism – force the supposedly irresponsible citizens to pay for HC in advance (naturally, Nixon and his ilk would like this); 2). Corporatism (sure, this might appeal to some Kaiser Permenente “market fundamentalists”). Didn’t we hear from progressives, “Y’all should love the IM! It forces consumers to purchase a private product from big corporations in a rigged competition. Isn’t that what y’all call the ‘free market’?”

    No, it’s not what we call the free market. In recent years, paternalism and corporatism have started losing energy on the right. In theory, progressives should welcome that shift, unless they’re not as opposed to paternalism and corporatism as they claim to be.

    As for taxes: Where on the political spectrum do you plot the general tendency among voters to broadly support “cutting the deficit” as a generic concept, yet not support cutting any/every item/program in partcular? Voters support raising taxes on “millionaires,” but never on themselves. Again, I see the intansigence of the GOP on tax increases as more a product of partisanship and political gamesmanship than as evidence of rightward shift (if only that were true). Otherwise, you’re suggesting that the nation has shifted right on this issue because voters are reticent to forfeit more of their disposable incomes?

    You should take credit where it is due. The country has continued a very long-term shift leftward on social issues (although abortion has shifted slightly “right” in recent years). When the same voter who supports gay marriage resists tax increases, he/she must really be an extremist!

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  68. stonetools says:

    Most likely it will be someone less inclined to do the kind of working across aisles, and across, the House-Senate divide, that good legislators ought to be doing.

    I think what Doug is missing here is that these legislators are not working across aisles because their constituents don’t want them to work across aisles. When they “compromise”, those constituents replace the compromisers with true believers who don’t compromise .
    Obama is right. The Republican Party has been hijacked by ideologues who represent those who have a vision of returning us to some right wing golden age, and they intend on dragging everyone back there. There are two competing visions and there is no way to “work across” or compromise” those visions. The only solution is to vote out those with the wrong vision.

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  69. PGlenn says:

    @Stan: you missed the point. Conceding that Stan and other progressives are mostly genuine, earnest champions of social justice, how do you go about promoting social justice. My contention is that the well-intended projects of very intelligent, highly-educated liberals/progressives to promote social justice have been – on balance – mostly big failures, mainly because we do not know how to solve socioeconomic problems in a hyper-complex modern world. I’m a Hayekian.

    Extending that frame of analysis to taxes: okay, you wish to promote social justice through the tax code. You’ll raise taxes on people making over $250K/year, etc. Unfortunately, though, you won’t raise revenues in a meaningful way, and might actually contribute to lowering federal government revenues over the mid-to-long-term. Or, was your goal merely to punish the greedy rich?

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  70. @PGlenn:

    The question of whether conservatives really in their hearts believed in a mandate is of little interest to me. Particularly because beneath it all is an unanswered question.

    Explain to me how “I want something more expensive and worse, because it is free market” is not stupid ideology,

    Frankly, it seems brain dysfunction. It is letting the philosophical form overpower the results staring you in the face. We are back to sullen exceptionalism, aren’t we? We have our path, but it has become our cross to bear. We must suffer worse outcomes because are stupid .. I mean the best … or something.

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  71. @PGlenn:

    Extending that frame of analysis to taxes: okay, you wish to promote social justice through the tax code. You’ll raise taxes on people making over $250K/year, etc. Unfortunately, though, you won’t raise revenues in a meaningful way, and might actually contribute to lowering federal government revenues over the mid-to-long-term. Or, was your goal merely to punish the greedy rich?

    That sounds like you are arguing against solutions by opposing components.

    Kind of evil.

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  72. PGlenn says:

    @stonetools: Please describe this “vision of returning us to some right wing golden age”? Who is articulating this vision and how? What specific ideas or proposals are they suggesting that will take us back to this right-wing golden age? I’m interested in hearing what is their reference point – i.e., which golden age. The 1870s, 1890s, 1920s, 1950s?

    Please enlighten me because I’m a right-winger, yet they haven’t let me in on the vision yet . . . it must be circulating over cigars and brandy at the RNC.

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  73. PGlenn says:

    @john personna: I’m really baffled by your last two comments. Can’t make heads or tails of them. Please rephrase, or don’t – but I’m too confused to respond.

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  74. @PGlenn:

    The definition of an ideologue is someone who puts ideology before all else, before results.

    Right now, in this time and place, the Republicans are ruled by ideologues. The Democrats have been making the pragmatic proposals, and keeping a lid on their own ideologues.

    Thus, while both parties might be equally dangerous in the abstract, the GOP is more dangerous here and now.

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  75. @PGlenn:

    Your comment here seemed unbound to results and totally an ideological review of health care plans.

    I see that viewpoint as exactly the problem. It is one of the tactics used to deflect from better and cheaper systems which don’t satisfy ideologues.

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  76. Latino_in_Boston says:

    @PGlenn:

    You keep meandering into unrelated issues, Glenn. Again, in order to answer the question, has the GOP become more or less conservative over time? You have to look at what their platform was and compare it to what it is now. In that sense, it doesn’t matter who came up with whatever policy. If a significant portion of the GOP had supported taxing the rich at 0% in the past, and now they supported it at 90%, it would mean they had moved Left despite the obvious fact that they had not come up with the policy.

    Voter preferences are also immaterial, especially when they’re contradictory. I think that they are this way for two reasons 1) people have no idea about policy and have no clue about the budget and 2) they get promised we can do everything. Romney, for example, is promising to both lower tax cuts and cut the budget.

    Political scientists have looked at this question and documented the move to the right by the GOP. You can see that here:

    http://voteview.com/images/polar_senate_means.jpg

    The picture was embedded in this blog, but the ranking comes from Keith Poole’s dimension ranking.

    http://voteview.com/blog/

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  77. @PGlenn, @Latino_in_Boston:

    I guess I’m saying I would frame it differently. Discard Right and Left, and just talk about deal making. Congress used to have more pragmatists. They’ve thinned on both sides a bit, but it’s clear who has been the “blockers” lately.

    The non-pragmatic Right, as encapsulated by the Tea Party movement, has come to the fore.

    Tea Party: U.S. Default Preferable to Debt Deal

    I mean, WTF, right?

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  78. mattb says:

    @Latino_in_Boston:
    Wow… thanks for those graphics and links. Really interesting stuff!

    It’s nice to see some actually plotted evidence that the “liberal” rating. At least according to this, contra Jan, the democrats have stayed relatively flat in terms of their “liberalism” since the 60′s.

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  79. al-Ameda says:

    @stonetools:

    I think what Doug is missing here is that these legislators are not working across aisles because their constituents don’t want them to work across aisles. When they “compromise”, those constituents replace the compromisers with true believers who don’t compromise .

    My premise exactly. The voters are not electing moderates. People want moderation and bi-partisan cooperation if it is in support of their particular preferences.

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  80. stonetools says:

    @PGlenn:

    I’m a Hayekian.

    Hmmm. Let’s see what Hayek had to say about the complex issue of national health insurance:

    There is no reason why, in a society which has reached the general level of wealth ours has, the first kind of security should not be guaranteed to all without endangering general freedom; that is: some minimum of food, shelter and clothing, sufficient to preserve health. Nor is there any reason why the state should not help to organize a comprehensive system of social insurance in providing for those common hazards of life against which few can make adequate provision.

    Guess that would make Obama a Hayekian too. Its noteworthy that Hayek grew up in, then retired to, Austria and Germany-countries with long standing national health insurance plans.

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  81. @mattb:

    That’s not what the “Democrats” line says. They drifted left 1970-2000 and then stabilized. If we believe the zero-line of the chart, and that 0.4 means the same thing on both sides, then the Republicans didn’t “catch them” until around 2000. Then, sure, the Republicans kept going, “beating them” for he first time in 2004.

    Of course, that hangs on the chart’s zero having real meaning, and the +/- dimensions having real symmetrical weight.

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  82. PGlenn says:

    @Latino_in_Boston: We’ll have to agree to disagree. You asked me consider 3-4 issues on which you thought the GOP had drifted right in recent years. To do that, A). We have to define what we mean by “right” or “conservative,” etc.; in certain respects, everybody’s platforms nowadays are way to the “left” of the Dixiecrats (if we accept left-wing premises – I don’t, of course – that conservative/right-wing = racist, reactionary, anti-immigrant, anti-Welfare State, and so forth); B). We have to keep in mind that 3-4 issues represent only a very small segment of the whole in determining whether the GOP has become has become more conservative over time.

    You’re right. It’s not strictly relevant to the question of whether the GOP has moved right on taxes that the public has gone from – what? – ten percent supporting gay marriage 15 years ago to – what? – 45 percent supporting it now, yet public support for new taxes has remained relatively constant. But it does put an interes ing twist on the proposition that GOP intransigence on taxes is a sign of right-wing “extremism.” If so, then the gay married couple living in Greenwich Village has also “gone right” on taxes. Okay, but I’m not ready to label them right-wing extremists.

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  83. PGlenn says:

    @john personna: I am all about analyzing results of existing social programs. That rarely ever happens. What we usually get are “analyses” concluding that because the government spent $150 billion, therefore they delivered results – even if the results they delivered were effectively worth $130 billion. Because they taxed people $200 billion and have $250 billion in promised outlays as part of a program,and those taxpayers want the services promised to them, therefore it’s a “popular” program and consequently, “it works.”

    Please show us the cheaper and better HC system. Obamacare?

    I’m opposite of “unbound to results,” but I do not claim to be free of ideology. Neither are you.

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  84. stonetools says:

    @PGlenn: 4

    Please enlighten me because I’m a right-winger, yet they haven’t let me in on the vision yet . . . it must be circulating over cigars and brandy at the RNC.

    There most definitely is a vision among right wingers of a need to go back to a Golden Age of political and economic liberty that was ended when the country took a disastrous turn leftward. They are unsure about when the disastrous turn happened and how far to go back. Some would go back to pre-the Great Society, so they want roll things back to around 1962. Others would say that the New Deal was the time of the Disastrous Left Turn, so they would go back to before 1932. Still others -the Ron Paul contingent-want to get rid of the federal income tax and the Federal Reserve Bank, so they want to roll back 100 years to 1912. The debate is still going on.

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  85. @PGlenn:

    Dude, could you possibly have had intelligent conversations over the last couple years and not been exposed to the results, costs, and benefits of other OCED health systems?

    On analyzing other issues for cost and benefit that would be great, but you sure as hell are not speaking for your party of the sub-party Tea Party variant.

    They have all been about the ideological wall to those discussions, and just about whacking spending back to arbitrary levels. You’ve heard, I’m sure, several proposals to whack SNAP (food stamps) back to 2007 levels. Have you ever seen the GOP tie that to exactly what qualifying criteria should change? Who is getting stamps who should not?

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  86. (The highest intelligence and pragmatism we’ve seen recently is that “free stuff is bad.”)

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  87. PGlenn says:

    @stonetools: An excellent point – modern day Hayekians always must reckon with that part of Hayek’s ideas. Yet, I will briefly counter with two points in response:

    1. Hayek was, first and foremost, a scholar and theorist of knowledge. He saw no reason to oppose the organization “of a comprehensive system of social insurance in providing for those common hazards of life against which few can make adequate provision,” because it seemed like a simple enough problem, especially compared to central economic planning, etc. Inasmuch as a comprehensive social insurance program attempts to solve hyper-complicated socioeconomic problems, however, then Hayek also provides a critique of how/why comprehensive planning for such provisions becomes increasingly difficult.

    2. That’s why Hayek was essentially in favor of redistributionism more than meliorism. It’s much simpler to use a progressive tax system to collect a higher percentage of income/wealth from the well-off and just directly redistribute the revenues to the less well-off, which they can use to purchase HC, old age insurance, etc.; or, if they prefer food, shelter, clothing, etc. Progressivism in this country does not follow a primarily redistributionist approach – rather it involves paternalistic/maternalistic attempts to solve specific socioeconomic problems, one problem at a time. One difficulty with our approach is that it places very high cognitive burdens on policy designers and those who implement the policy. In that sense, I believe that Hayek, the epistemological scholar and theorist (rather than Hayek the social justice theorist) would object to how we approach social insurance – it involves far more complications than he probably conceived in the 1940s/50s, and thus it simply does not work. He’d now recommend redistributing money to the less well-off to pay for their own HC.

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  88. stonetools says:

    @john personna:

    Explain to me how “I want something more expensive and worse, because it is free market” is not stupid ideology,

    Whats happened among conservatives is that they have elevated a reasonable rule of thumb- free market solutions should be preferred- to an an absolute-we should have ONLY free market solutions to the problems of society.

    Its interesting that two of the major leaders of the conservative movement-Friedman and Hayek-were never able to come up with adequate, non-governmental solutions to the problem of universal health care, critical though they were of existing solutions.

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  89. mattb says:

    @john personna: You’re completely right. I mis-read the chart — didn’t get enough sleep last night.

    On a slightly different note, I wish they had broken the Republican/Conservative line into a few groups in the same way they did with the Dems.

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  90. @mattb:

    Or just plotted the two parties. Splitting the Dems kind of drew the eye with the “weight” of three.

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  91. PGlenn says:

    @stonetools: But I think you’re closer to the Chicago School mentality than the Hayekian. You’re right, there is no such thing as truly 100 percent “free” market disattached from the public sphere and, moreover, even something approximating the “free market” is by no means perfect (although it is usually the least imperfect means of allocating resources, etc.).

    The Chicago School would acknowledge these realities, yet effectively their models assume these problems away. That is not the case with Austrians/Hayekians who do not believe in perfect market models.

    In certain respects, the Chicago School perfect market models have been (inadvertantly) detrimental to free market advocates because they make a false promise – it’s easy to prove that the market does not approximate perfection, hence there are all these “market failures” that must be micro-corrected by brilliant goverment technocrats.

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  92. stonetools says:

    @PGlenn:

    That’s why Hayek was essentially in favor of redistributionism more than meliorism. It’s much simpler to use a progressive tax system to collect a higher percentage of income/wealth from the well-off and just directly redistribute the revenues to the less well-off, which they can use to purchase HC, old age insurance, etc.; or, if they prefer food, shelter, clothing, etc.

    Seems to me that Hayek was in favor of taxing the rich in order to subsidize the poor buying health insurance. Isn’t this in essence, Obamacare?
    I guess the individual mandate could be thought of as being “paternalistic” but it also could be considered a tax on free riders to improve the efficiency of the system . Hayek should be in favor of something like that.

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  93. @PGlenn:

    In certain respects, the Chicago School perfect market models have been (inadvertantly) detrimental to free market advocates because they make a false promise – it’s easy to prove that the market does not approximate perfection, hence there are all these “market failures” that must be micro-corrected by brilliant goverment technocrats.

    That sounds more like a paranoid fear than a real reality.

    The US has had a mixed economy for 200 years. Some things have been done by the private sector, some things have been done by government, some have been done by various forms of non-government social or religious organizations.

    Tell me, when did the descriptive idea of “free markets” first become a tangible stand-in for the real historic mix?

    As I’ve noted in other threads, the great arc of history is that civilizations were founded as kingdoms and rights were gradually transferred to individuals and markets. The US cut itself off from England, taking a constitutional monarchy and dropping the monarchy part. It moved the line further toward markets but it sure did not abolish the state.

    It is only 20th century zealots who fantasize about a future, stateless, free market.

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  94. stonetools says:

    @PGlenn:

    But I think you’re closer to the Chicago School mentality than the Hayekian. You’re right, there is no such thing as truly 100 percent “free” market disattached from the public sphere and, moreover, even something approximating the “free market” is by no means perfect (although it is usually the least imperfect means of allocating resources, etc.).

    Its interesting that in your scheme the Chicago guys are the “true believers” while the Hayekians are the “moderate pragmatists” :-)

    I don’t think we can distinguish between Hayek and Friedman only in that way. Fiedman certainly believes that you can manage the economy, but his preferred tool is the central bank through monetary policy. I’m not sure Hayek believed in a central bank at all (haven’t read him recently).

    My liberal critique of both is that they place far too much faith in the free market, even when the free market has been shown to fail.

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  95. Scott says:

    I am coming to this party late so I won’t comment other than to say: Thanks for the quality conversation and the minimum of insults. Let’s keep it up.

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  96. PGlenn says:

    @stonetools: Fair enough, except that Obamacare is – what? – 2,000 pages long? I think it’s attempting to do more than you describe.

    Hayek would have been in favor of finding ways to make it more affordable for lower-income people to get access to HC and insurance, assuming that we know how to do that and that our means of doing so is not especially coercive, does not require high degrees of economic planning, etc. The idea that the government will know how to correct for free rider problems, improve the effciency of a HC system that is huge and intertwined with 100s of variables, regulate the health industry, figure out in advance all the possible loopholes that might arise in response to government-managed HC, etc. – Hayek’s works also provide foundations for a critique of that notion.

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  97. @PGlenn:

    Fair enough, except that Obamacare is – what? – 2,000 pages long? I think it’s attempting to do more than you describe.

    I’ve never got “page count” as a rational argument. It’s not like you’d support a 100 page National Health, right?

    I suspect there are 2,000 pages because the body of federal law interact with health care a zillion diffident ways, and so the new plan, as an incremental change (and not “revolution”) must touch them all. I mean, doesn’t Congress have its own private health care?

    Lawmakers can choose among several plans and get special treatment at federal medical facilities. In 2008, taxpayers spent about $15 billion to insure 8.5 million federal workers and their dependents.

    If you are going to keep stuff like that, then you need to describe how it satisfies the mandate, etc.

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  98. PGlenn says:

    @john personna: Who is fantasizing about a “future, stateless, free market”? Anarcho-capitalists? Neo-Randians? Lew Rockwell? I guess if those people had any influence, you might have a point.

    It’s paranoid fear on my part to suggest that there are people in policy schools, think tanks, DC power corridors, Davos, the Kennedy School of Government, etc. who ostensibly favor a mixed-market economy, who will acknowledge the importance and value of markets, but whom also tend to see a wide range of “market failures” that must be corrected by the likes of them?

    Hell, that’s half of what I heard in grad school.

    It’s also true that there are antinomian currents on the left, which are hostile or ambivalent toward the empowerment of technoratic experts, but I don’t think it’s paranoid on my part to suggest that this branch of the left is not well represented at the Kennedy School.

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  99. @PGlenn:

    Who is fantasizing about a “future, stateless, free market”? Anarcho-capitalists? Neo-Randians? Lew Rockwell? I guess if those people had any influence, you might have a point.

    I think stonetools is telling you that Hayek and Friedman were more pragmatic than they are treated by modern followers. They are heard to argue for that promised land.

    It’s paranoid fear on my part to suggest that there are people in policy schools, think tanks, DC power corridors, Davos, the Kennedy School of Government, etc. who ostensibly favor a mixed-market economy, who will acknowledge the importance and value of markets, but whom also tend to see a wide range of “market failures” that must be corrected by the likes of them?

    Maybe it’s too “think tank” a concern?

    Congressional mismanagement has not been about micro-managing market failures. That is off their map. Half of them probably don’t know what a market failure is. Their errors are great sweeping things. Things like the basic inability to balance spending and receipts.

    It’s also true that there are antinomian currents on the left, which are hostile or ambivalent toward the empowerment of technoratic experts, but I don’t think it’s paranoid on my part to suggest that this branch of the left is not well represented at the Kennedy School.

    That too sounds a million miles from Washington, and weasels ducking a sequestration they themselves designed.

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  100. PGlenn says:

    @stonetools: I meant that the Chicago guys are kind of “true believers” in mathetical economic models, which assume a perfect market, ostensibly because those assumptions are necessary to the creation of a usable model, not because they believe that real world markets are perfect. But, yes, the Chicago guys are true believers in the sense that they believe the models are highly effective at predicting real world patterns.

    The Chicago guys are not necessarily true believers in technocracy per se (and many Chicago guys would see themselves as libertarians), but excessive confidence in the models has effectively provided sustenance to the technocratic mentality nonetheless. The Chicago guys acknowledge that their models are abstracted from reality, but that realization gets lost in translation. In slang terms, we might say to Chicago guys, when they momentarily forget that their models are abstract tools, “I caught you slippin’.”

    You’re right, though. We can probably distinguish between Chicago guys and Austrians in a lot of other ways, including differences on economic theory. I’m not qualified to delve into those, as my interest leans toward political and social theory.

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  101. stonetools says:

    @PGlenn:

    The criticism that the bill is 2,000 pages long is akin to the duke in Amadeus criticizing Mozart’s symphony because it had too many notes. Its lazy criticism. Please do better than that.
    The ACA does a lot more than subsidizing for health insurance.

    Its setting up health insurance exchanges, so that average people can shop more efficiently for complex products.
    Its regulating what plans can be offered, in order to prevent fraud.
    Its prohibiting discrimination against those with pre-existing conditions.
    Its allowing children of those with insurance to stay on their plans till 26.
    Its providing financial incentives for hospitals adopting “best practices”
    Its closing a loophole in Medicare benefits.

    Which of those things are you actually against?
    I’m sure that there was a short, simple plan for the Allied invasion of Europe in 1944. I’m glad that they went with the complex, but successful, plan.
    .
    Einstein said it best : ” Things should be made as simple as possible-but no simpler”. He apparently couldn’t get simpler than the long , complex Theory of Relativity for doing the job of describing space and time. I have yet to see any conservative explain how the ACA could achieve its goals in a simpler fashion-other than counting pages.

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  102. PGlenn says:

    @john personna: you do make an excellent point about many pols having no idea what a market failure is and that we tend to overrate the influence of technocrats and ivy League experts on how the sausage is made. I do think this is a spot on observation.

    But it’s complicated. In reference to something like Obamacare, where do the think tank-conceived, evidence-based policy recommendations end and the martini lunch, “special interest” group favors begin? These currents all kind of intertwine and influence eachother. We’d have a hell of a time separating them from eachother, let alone the other currents swirling in the policymaking soup. I suspect that technocrats can often have profound influences without ultimately getting the credit for a particular policy item.

    Moreover, I’m also talking about the larger political-intellectual culture. What makes us believe that we can micro-manage the entire U.S. HC system? Some of the biggest hacks in DC believe that such a project is within their grasps. “Forget the pencil necks! Me, Bubba, and Sally could sort out this whole mess over some chicken wings and beer, if they’d only let us.” I do wonder if the technocratic dream had something to do with this mentality even if/when the actual technorats are participating in mere supporting roles.

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  103. @PGlenn:

    But it’s complicated. In reference to something like Obamacare, where do the think tank-conceived, evidence-based policy recommendations end and the martini lunch, “special interest” group favors begin? These currents all kind of intertwine and influence eachother. We’d have a hell of a time separating them from eachother, let alone the other currents swirling in the policymaking soup. I suspect that technocrats can often have profound influences without ultimately getting the credit for a particular policy item.

    I am profoundly embarrassed that Obamacare is the best we, as a nation, could do.

    On the other hand, you are using misdirection to defend a party which wanted something even worse.

    Really, I think the big arc of your comments here is “ignore all those crappy politicians, and listen to my purer vision, which in the end justifies all those crappy politicians.”

    No, it does not.

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  104. wr says:

    @PGlenn: You call yourself a “Hayekian,” but actually you don’t follow Hayek so much as you follow your own fantasy of what Hayek would have said if he was as smart as Rush.

    In other words, typical rightwing blather — throw in a couple of names of writers and append them to your own line of talk-radio inspired nonsense.

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  105. anjin-san says:

    where do the think tank-conceived, evidence-based policy recommendations end and the martini lunch, “special interest” group favors begin

    You could say the same about much of what the government does – how does HCR differ?

    Dressing up “I hate DC” with rhetorical flourishes does not really constitute a compelling argument…

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  106. wr says:

    @wr: But perhaps that’s a little simplistic and unfair to PGlenn. And yet, once one cuts through his impressive vocabulary, all one gets is “too bad the world sucks, but trying to fix it is hard, so poor people should die.”

    I’m sorry, but if advanced study of economics and philosophy gets you no further than “complex systems are really complex, so why bother?” then one wonders what the point of study was.

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  107. PGlenn says:

    @stonetools: I did a poor job of making my point about Obamacare being 2,000+ pages. My, basic initial – I don’t think controversial – reason for pointing that out was simply to stake the claim that it’s an ambitious plan, involving a lot of moving parts. It’s cognitively-intensive. It was written on the assumption that policy designers and those implementing the law can foresee, account for, and effectively respond to a very large number of interrelated, ever-evolving sets of socioeconomic variables.

    You’re right, though, the mere fact that it’s 2,000 pages does not mean that it will fail. In theory, the 2,000 pages could be brilliantly concocted. In theory, it might work briliantly. I’m skeptical because the task set forth by the law is a massively complicated one.

    In general terms, a simpler, imperfect but better, approach is to allow market-like mechanisms to do more of the “work”. I openly acknowledge that movement toward market mechanisms is, itself, a very difficult challenge, in part because our HC system evolved in ways that were not “free market” to begin with. That might be a topic for another time.

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  108. PGlenn says:

    @wr: Maybe you can educate on how a true Hayekian would follow Hayek – What forms of ideas woud that take? If I were to try to extricate myself from being a hack influenced by Rush Limbaugh, and wanted to approximate a truer understanding of Hayek, what points should I contemplate?

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  109. PGlenn says:

    @anjin-san: Who said I hated DC? In some respects, I more forgiving of politicians, lobbyists, partisans, etc. than most others I know. I assume that my opponents usually have good intentions – especially at the level of big picture visions – and that most voters, politicians, and even “lobbyists” are sociotrophic (because that’s what the poltical science literature demonstrates). I just think that a lot of people in DC set up problems for themselves that are extremely difficult and complicated, at the urging of We The People, of course.

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  110. PGlenn says:

    @wr: This is probably my last comment to you, since talking with you seems like it will be a waste of time. But your comment at 12:25 was pure strawman. Actually, congratulations, I’ve never seen anyone create so many strawmen with such few words. That’s a real accomplishment.

    I don’t think the world sucks. I’m actually quite the optmist. I’m also among a rare breed of historians who believes that we are living in the greatest time in history.

    I never said that we shouldn’t try to fix problems. Infrastructure is a problem. International security is a problem. My point is that some problems are more complicated than others and that our solutions to those problems too often cause more harm than good. I believe that my vision will mean greater equality, prosperity, liberty, and less suffering, fewer poor people dying prematurely or unnecessarily, etc.

    You disagree, fine. The difference is I won’t accuse you of being a monster.

    If more people could appreciate that socioeconomic realities are hyper-complex, then we wouldn’t have to stress the point. But, no, for me, that understanding is just a starting point. You’re the one who seems to be getting stuck on it.

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  111. stonetools says:

    There is a simple, free market solution to the problem of universal health insurance. The solution is that seniors, the poor, the working class, and those with pre-existing conditions be denied health insurance. That is why we need a governmental solution.
    If you say the legislative solution is too complex , you are can’t just throw up your hands and exclaim, ” The legislation is complex, so it must be awful” Rather, you to go through the legislation and argue provision by provision. I have seen no conservative argue that. What they have done is to whine “Its so complex. There are so many pages. NO ONE can read all this”.

    I’m sorry if you are going to criticize the ACA, then you are going to have to read at least ONE provision and show what’s wrong. Let’s see if you can do even that.

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  112. Scott says:

    I also think that the ACA is unnecessarily complex. However, that is the price we all pay for being in a democracy and having to deal with a lot of conflicting interests. A democracy will not be and never will be terribly efficient or even effective. And we kind of have to live with that fact. Broad market mechanisms can steer actions toward the right direction but continually tweaking tends to add unacknowledged instabilities into a complex system.

    On a side note, I think the fundamental problem with the ACA is that I don’t see a basic consensus that universal heathcare is a right or even a desire.

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  113. @stonetools:

    The solution is that seniors, the poor, the working class, and those with pre-existing conditions be denied health insurance.

    In a free market environment, if you rolled off employer based insurance, where you developed a condition, and went to a new provider, it would then be “pre”

    The only way to beat the “condition” problem in a free market environment would be to keep private insurance, choose one in your youth (hopefully you are “pre” at that point), never join an employer plan, and keep the same insurance provider for life.

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  114. @PGlenn:

    I never said that we shouldn’t try to fix problems. Infrastructure is a problem. International security is a problem. My point is that some problems are more complicated than others and that our solutions to those problems too often cause more harm than good. I believe that my vision will mean greater equality, prosperity, liberty, and less suffering, fewer poor people dying prematurely or unnecessarily, etc.

    You disagree, fine. The difference is I won’t accuse you of being a monster.

    If more people could appreciate that socioeconomic realities are hyper-complex, then we wouldn’t have to stress the point. But, no, for me, that understanding is just a starting point. You’re the one who seems to be getting stuck on it.

    I don’t think you should make a generic argument against solutions.

    When you say “I’m for solutions, but they usually have downsides” you are doing that.

    Consciously nor not, it is a rhetorical strategy to block motion.

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  115. PGlenn says:

    @stonetools: that was cruel and unusual to request that find a provision to criticize within that monstrosity. I randomly went to page 174 and found this:

    (b) STANDARDS FOR QHBP OFFERING ENTITIES TO OFFER EXCHANGE-PARTICIPATING HEALTH BENEFITS PLANS.—The standards established under subsection (a)(1)(A) shall require that, in order for a QHBP offering entity to offer an Exchange-participating health benefits plan, the entity must meet the following requirements . . .

    . . . (3) AFFORDABILITY.—The entity shall provide for affordable premiums.

    As long as the offering entity makes health care affordable, they can participate. Good thing we got that cleared up.

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  116. BTW, I had individual insurance when I worked as a contract programmer. I bought insurance through my high school buddy, a broker.

    I was with company X and my rates jumped up. My buddy said no problem, they do that to see who is healthy. If you are sick you’ll pay the rate, if you are healthy you’ll go to another company. You are healthy, so you just switch to company Y.

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  117. stonetools says:

    @PGlenn:

    One more, and then I’m off.

    International security is a problem.

    The problem of international security is a complex, vital problem, fraught with danger, possibilities, and existential peril. Yet not once have I heard Friedman, Hayek, or their disciples suggest that international security is not a fit problem for the government to tackle. They also never seem to object that the government solutions cost too much money, or that they should be subject to a cost-benefit analysis. Those violently opposed to the ACA because its too costly are the same people who object to any cuts at all in the defense budget. Go figure.

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  118. PGlenn says:

    @john personna: it’s my fault, then, for not being clear. I’m not arguing against the whole idea of policy solutions. I’m referring to the idea that we can “fix” hyper-complex socioeconomic problems via piecemeal public policy instruments. That position does not preclude simply redistributing income to the less well-off, with which they could purchase health care/insurance. That would be a “solution” of sorts, but not a “fix” in the sense that it’s usually used in modern “social democracies.” In modern social democracies, the typical policy instrument attempts to trace the root causes of social problems and then ameliorate them in targeted ways.

    Are you against simple income redistribution?

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  119. @PGlenn:

    I think my story above explains why, if the government is going to sponsor exchanges, they wouldn’t want everyone to play pricing games

    If I was an insurance company and I said “hey, everyone going to an exchange is probably too sick for the open market, I should charge them accordingly” then what happens?

    Or I could say “I know I can make money with group employer plans, I should just put up an exchange plan that no one ever chooses.”

    The Israeli plan is oh so much better. Give everyone a basic healthcare token, if the insurance companies want to be in the business they have to accept the token, and then after that sell value-added protections.

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  120. @PGlenn:

    Are you against simple income redistribution?

    Simple income redistribution works for a lot of things. You could replace unemployment, welfare, and food stamps with that kind of unified system.

    It doesn’t work for health care, because an unregulated insurance market will eject at-risk individuals.

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  121. Barry says:

    @PGlenn: “Well, along came the “Tea Party” movement, which can be quite diverse (or at times confused) ideologically at times, but which has been fairly consistent in criticizing the traditional “pro-business” style corporatism of the establishment/moderate GOP. ”

    And has done what about this? I haven’t noticed any loss of enthusiasm in the GOP for subsidies and cronyism.

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  122. Barry says:

    @PD Shaw: “LaTourette is not resigning because of something specific to his own party. It’s about bi-partisan gridlock:”

    Lie. The GOP has reached unprecedented levels of pure obstructionism in the past few years.

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  123. mattb says:

    @Scott:

    On a side note, I think the fundamental problem with the ACA is that I don’t see a basic consensus that universal heathcare is a right or even a desire.

    I’d say the country is probably divided more or less 50/50 on this topic in the abstract.

    However, given the power of the entire “death panel” rhetoric, and much of the populist Right Wing objections to the bill, it seems in practice everyone is pretty much convinced of their personal right to universal healthcare (“hands off MY Medicare” and “The government should not be able to decide I don’t get treatment).

    Its just that many don’t like the idea of extending that right to others.

    While the argument can be made that people are only claiming what they paid into — as so many have pointed out, under the current system people currently end up extracting far more than they put in. If the government was to bring the two far more into like, I suspect there would be an entirely different conversation about universal coverage in the US.

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  124. anjin-san says:

    I’m also among a rare breed of historians who believes that we are living in the greatest time in history.

    Ummm. Most of the people I know who study history either casually or seriously feel that way.

    You can go back to gazing at yourself adoringly in the mirror now.

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  125. wr says:

    @PGlenn: I have interest in discussing Hayek with you, no matter how many two dollar words you dress your posts up with. I was merely commenting on you rewriting of Hayek to suit your own nihilistic political philosophy — “of course, if he were alive today, he’d agree with me, despite the fact that I’m completely contradicting what he said.”

    You got something to say? Say it plain, say it clear, and stop dressing it up with pretend allusions to people whose words you then twist.

    But when you do say something in short words, it all comes out the same: “The world’s problems are hard, so we shouldn’t try to do anything about them.”

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  126. wr says:

    @PGlenn: You’ve said that most of the serious problems we face are too complex to solve, and thus preach that we don’t try. And then you brag that your way will bring freedom and happiness to the masses.

    Perhaps I’m simply too dim to understand this bold new breed of historians, but it sounds like you advocate a laissez-faire world where governments — that is, groups of people organized into political units for the betterment of all — do nothing and let the rich thrive and the poor die.

    If I’ve misunderstood you, I’d love to hear what you’re actually advocating. You talk real purty-like, but all I see from you is a desire to return to the economy of Victorian London.

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  127. Scott says:

    @mattb: I always felt that having a consensus was always a prerequisite to an executable plan. Once everybody agreed that universal healthcare was desirable, then all we are arguing is the means to an end. Not that simple to be sure but doable. Right now, I think the country is talking past each other.

    Personally, I thought that we have evolved enough as a society that universal health care is a basic right of living in this country. I guess people disagree with me but I”m too obtuse to know what the counter argument could be.

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  128. EddieInCA says:

    @Latino_in_Boston:

    I know several who continue to vote Republican even though they don’t agree with much of their agenda anymore. In some cases, it’s low information, in others, force of habit, but little by little they have begun to question the GOP. In other words, it’s holding on by a thread.

    Paging Dr. Joyner. Dr. James Joyner, please come to the Voter Registration Booth.

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  129. grumpy realist says:

    @stonetools: You can also point out that the ACA contains the equivalent of the Hatch-Waxman Act for biologics, which has absolutely NOTHING to do with How To Get Healthcare. Still, it was stuffed in there.

    Page count, phooey.

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  130. mattb says:

    @Scott:

    Personally, I thought that we have evolved enough as a society that universal health care is a basic right of living in this country. I guess people disagree with me but I”m too obtuse to know what the counter argument could be.

    The issue is that we have a very broken form of “universal healthcare” right now — in that the majority of the population essentially has it. The issue is that its being served in an unsustainable way, and doesn’t reach a significant amount of the population.

    That ends up building electoral compancency. It’s only when the current system begins to truly crash (which arguably it has been doing, very slowly, for at least a decade) and people start to loose their healthcare (or go into medical bankruptcy) before the vast majority of Americans will seriously reconsider their position.

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  131. John Thacker says:

    Instead of getting legislation passed or dealing with issues that are coming at as with the speed of an oncoming freight train like the Fiscal Cliff

    Unfortunately, and bizarrely, the highway bill that LaTourette wants passed only makes the Fiscal Cliff and the problem of the budget agreement worse.

    LaTourette’s complains, and those of other moderates, are the same sort of incoherent mess that was exemplified by the George W. Bush Presidency. Complaining about the deficit yet wanting to increase spending (and not increase taxes!) That’s the “moderate” way, with both Democrats and Republicans.

    “Extremist” Democrats want to raise taxes to pay for the spending. “Extremist” Republicans want to actually cut spending. But the broad mass of moderates want all the spending, none of the taxes, and that’s what we’ve been getting. (Largely because voters want a free lunch too.)

    The highway bill was a disaster because what the moderates in both parties want is way more infrastructure spending– but none of the taxes, gas or otherwise, to pay for it. Same with everything else.

    The Congress has passed lots of legislationrecently. As mentioned there, we’ve had “in just the past few months, for instance, the ostensibly gridlocked Congress reauthorized the Export-Import Bank program that gives money to foreign companies to buy U.S. goods; extended sharply reduced rates for government-subsidized student loans; re-upped the Essential Air Service program that subsidizes airline service to rural communities; and voted against ending the 1705 loan-guarantee program that gave rise to green-tech boondoggles such as Solyndra and Abound. None of these were party-line votes — all enjoyed hearty support from both Democrats and Republicans.

    Another instance of budding bipartisanship is the pork-laden farm bill that extends sugar subsidies, maintains crop subsidies and creates a “shallow-loss program” that effectively guarantees incomes for farmers at a time when that sector is doing historically well. The bill passed the Senate with 16 GOP votes.”

    This Congress has done too much, not too little.

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  132. jan says:

    @PGlenn:

    “You disagree, fine. The difference is I won’t accuse you of being a monster.”

    You are an interesting, civil poster PGlenn. And, the above comment is so accurate. People on the far left and right go for the political jugular when they have little else to offer. It’s incredible how similar these two extreme factions, on opposing ends of the political spectrum, are in voicing their POVs — both being closed-minded with sharp tongued personal assaults on others, in registering their differences of opinion.

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  133. john personna says:

    @jan:

    PG took the high road but it ultimately ended up with an endorsement of things known not to work, in practice, in our world: A free market in health care is “better” despite it failing frequently not just for the poor, but for the middle class. Those are the coat-tails you seek to ride.

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  134. PGlenn says:

    @jan: thanks! And I enjoy reading your comments. Hopefully, I’ve been able to absorb some of the punishment that you’d normally take.

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  135. PGlenn says:

    @john personna: the employer-provided HC model began in WWII, became dominant in the decades following. It is not especially a “free market” innovation. In general, though, some of the best aspects of our health care “system” were generated out of market dynamics.

    Can market-oriented HC systems be perfected? Absolutely not. But, ceteris parabis, they will tend to be superior to more socialized approaches, which can let down poor and middle-class people in tragic, horrifying ways.

    I normally don’t respond to the idiots (not you) who say “you want old and poor people to die, you bastard!” But I’ll touch on that silliness to conclude my participation on this thread . . .

    Brother, the NHS was designed by very well-meaning people who accused their opponents of not caring about the old, poor, etc. What does the NHS do now? It sends old people with conditions that are deemed not within the approved cost/benefit range home to die.

    People like me care just as much about old people, the poor, the children, the middle class. It’s just that we think that the “progressive solutions” tend to make things worse for old people, the poor, the children, the middle class. Speaking of failures! How’s that Great Society treating them?

    And we’d like to know when this golden age of “laissez-faire” supposedly happened in the past. Tales of 19th century “hands off” government are greatly exagerrated. Yet, the economy grew at rapid rates and the lives of the poor and middle classes were vastly improved. Was the era when laissez-faire was supposedly tried and failed the 1910s under Woodrow Wilson? The 1950s during the postwar consensus? I’d like to know when was this golden age of the “free market” because I’ve yet to encounter it in my historical readings.

    Finally, it’s not like we’re calling for pure “laissez-faire” now. That’s unrealistic and probably not advisable. Even it would work in a vacuum (and it wouldn’t), we’d be trying to impose this pure market political economy on a system that evolved over decades/centuries and has considerable “stickiness” built into it.

    No, it’s more a matter of understanding how markets work + understanding the limitations of “progressive” social policy, and then proceeding while being informed by such insights. We’re not looking to remake the world overnight in a blaze of glory! That’s what utopian leftists try to do.

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  136. al-Ameda says:

    @PGlenn:

    No, it’s more a matter of understanding how markets work + understanding the limitations of “progressive” social policy, and then proceeding while being informed by such insights. We’re not looking to remake the world overnight in a blaze of glory! That’s what utopian leftists try to do.

    Who are these “utopian leftists” that you refer to?

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  137. jan says:

    @PGlenn:

    “Hopefully, I’ve been able to absorb some of the punishment that you’d normally take.”

    Oh, you’ve noticed!

    Anyway, it’s gratifying to pass the baton onto another centered poster, such as yourself. Sometimes, it’s like experiencing ‘One flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,’ in real life, posting here. One can write a serious POV, only to be responded to by a swarm of invectives or nitpicking demands, like someone has invaded a nest of wasps. I guess it all boils down to one’s perspective. However, equilibrium is reset when I read comments such as yours.

    So…Thanks!

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  138. PGlenn says:

    @al-Ameda: Good question. Today’s American progressives tend to be more piecemeal, incremental, pragmatic reformers than utopian. I pointed to leftist utopians only because 21st-century libertarians are accused of wantig to (re)impose a radical version of “laissez-faire” in a big, overnight revolutionary sweep. The irony is that the classically liberal intellectual forerunners of today’s libertarians were once the stalwarts against utopian movements.

    I do think that some stronger versions of environmentalism, for example, at the Watermelon extremes, can be quite utopian, but most leftists now would consider themselves moderate pragmatists.

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  139. PGlenn says:

    @jan: As you know, it’s ultimately beneficial to debate, “test out,” and be forced to defend one’s ideas and beliefs.

    In defense of this site (which I’ve been visiting more often of late), you get the nasty invectives, but if you move past them, there’s often a lot of substance from the other side, too. I’ve gotten some very good, thougtful, tough challenges here in between the insults.

    On some other sites, even if you could sort of peel back the invectives – you can’t – there wouldn’t much underneath to see, anyway.

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  140. jan says:

    @PGlenn:

    Again, you are someone who is able to weigh both sides of an argument, which is commendable. If there were more like you in Congress, we would have made greater headway, IMO.

    For me, most of the ‘substance’ is contained within the introductory content introducing each thread. Here you actually have some ‘critical thinking’ exchanged in the various pieces excerpted. However, for the most part, the comments that follow are pretty segregated into ideology, which probably includes my comments as well. Just by looking at the name one can guess what the political take will be.

    I also agree with your statement about ‘testing out’ one’s beliefs by debating someone opposing those beliefs. Ironically, the back and forths on this blog has consolidated those beliefs more into a different political framework than one I’ve had for many years. When I first started posting here, over a year ago, I looked at myself as a conservative democrat — fiscally conservative and socially moderate to libertarian. But, as more time went on, it became apparent that I share relatively few stances with social progressives, who now dominate the party. So, after the ACA passed I changed my affiliation to ‘Independent,’ and am comfortable being more a neutral voter. I can understand why this faction of voters has grown over the years, as the D’s and R’s have become more strident in their views.

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  141. anjin-san says:

    It’s just that we think that the “progressive solutions” tend to make things worse for old people

    How old are you? Before Medicare, only 51 percent of Americans 65 and older had health care coverage and nearly 30 percent lived below the poverty line. Please provide some detail about how the progressive solution “made things worse”…

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  142. wr says:

    @PGlenn: Thank you, Mr. Gradgrind. Your arguments are almost as convincing now as they were when Dickens wrote them.

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  143. wr says:

    @jan: Jan, if you think you’re being “punished,” there’s an easy answer:

    Stop lying.

    It’s amazing how nice people will be to you.

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  144. wr says:

    @anjin-san: Like all libertarians, it doesn’t matter how old PGlenn is. He is eternally 17, convinced that the entire world consists of himself and a bunch of ants.

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  145. anjin-san says:

    Tales of 19th century “hands off” government are greatly exagerrated.

    Since you fancy yourself a historian, perhaps you could provide some foundation for this positions. As it stands, it is simply an unsubstantiated claim.

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  146. @PGlenn:

    the employer-provided HC model began in WWII, became dominant in the decades following. It is not especially a “free market” innovation. In general, though, some of the best aspects of our health care “system” were generated out of market dynamics.

    People on the right commonly talk about “free market” approaches, and it seemed good to spend a few paragraphs on exactly where they fail to provide health benefits for plain folks. Certainly our system retains market dynamics, as do many of the better, cheaper, more universal systems used in other nations.

    Can market-oriented HC systems be perfected? Absolutely not. But, ceteris parabis, they will tend to be superior to more socialized approaches, which can let down poor and middle-class people in tragic, horrifying ways.

    Hmm. I just noted that many other systems use market. I know I cited the Israeli system yesterday, which uses a voucher concept and multiple insurance providers. Many people like the Swiss system, which is a mandated public/private insurance system with market elements.

    Which of these systems actually do “let down poor and middle-class people in tragic, horrifying ways?”

    Brother, the NHS was designed by very well-meaning people who accused their opponents of not caring about the old, poor, etc. What does the NHS do now? It sends old people with conditions that are deemed not within the approved cost/benefit range home to die.

    Well, the Right has avoided a question, and put it on the Left for even worrying about it. It is actually a rational concern, not something that should be deflected with emotion:

    If you’ve got a patient who, no matter what, with the best current technology, will be dead in 30 days. How much do you spend in those last 30 days fighting it? A thousand dollars? A hundred thousand dollars? A million dollars? At what point do you send them home, or to hospice, with some morphine?

    Too often the glib answer is “anyone can pull through!” But sadly that is not the case. From my understanding, a 90 year old with 3rd stage cancer is not going to suddenly gain another year. The body is too weak for the aggressive treatments needed. So what do you spend?

    No, it’s more a matter of understanding how markets work + understanding the limitations of “progressive” social policy, and then proceeding while being informed by such insights. We’re not looking to remake the world overnight in a blaze of glory! That’s what utopian leftists try to do.

    I notice kind of a mini-trend, with smart and reasonable Republicans kind of ditching their party’s current candidates and initiatives, and talking instead about their vision. This return to basics may be a recognition that while you can create an abstract philosophy which you think is defensible … it’s not really out there.

    There isn’t any Republican plan out there that I’d actually choose over a clone of Britain’s National Health.

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  147. BTW, I was watching some kind of TV show with cancer treatment experts. Someone mentioned the recent news that Warren Buffett had been diagnosed with 1st stage prostate cancer and was going to seek treatment. They scoffed. The current understanding is that 1st stage may not develop further, and that people, particularly the elderly, should stay healthy and strong in general. The guy is 81, they said, he has enough to worry about without doing aggressive treatment.

    So presumably it is Buffett’s money, and the treatment people he is talking to are the best, and not just after a “Warren Buffett Wing” to their building.

    But what should any kind of National Health recommend to 81 year–olds with a stage 1 diagnoses?

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  148. @PGlenn:

    It sends old people with conditions that are deemed not within the approved cost/benefit range home to die.

    Noting of course that if you really want an unlimited spending HC system, then you also want an unlimited cost HC system.

    You know the actual GOP position on this, right? As encapsulated in the Ryan plan? They’ll simply cap contributions to insurance for the elderly, and then play dumb on what this does to end-of-life spending. They’ve washed their hands of it, after making sure there is actually less money for the people you describe.

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  149. al-Ameda says:

    @PGlenn:
    I’d say that there are as many “utopian leftists” across this country as there are moderate Republicans in the House of Representatives.

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  150. PGlenn says:

    @john personna: Several good points. I mentioned the NHS example, though, not to suggest that there are easy libertarian answers to “end of life” and related questions, but to challenge this notion that it’s a debate between people who care about old/poor people and people who do not. The NHS was designed by people who demonized their opponents for supposedly not caring about old/poor people, but ultimately the best designed plans cannot escape harsh realities of life. The NHS plan might be the least imperfect policy framework that could have been devised (and was political feasible), but it didn’t “fix” the problems it was designed to address.

    Libertarians conclude that this doesn’t make the NHS an evil, heartless system, but it might be bad policy. We demand the same consideration in return.

    I was asked about Medicare, which is perhaps one of the more successful examples of American social policy. Medicare is based on relatively straightforward redistributionist premises and operational needs, though. It doesn’t try to cure addictions or get seniors to eat healthier foods, etc. (that I’m aware of). It does try to control costs, while providing health coverage to a group that – en masse – represents a high-risk insurance pool, which is where it gets more complicated. In doing that, though, we’re reminded of the old cliche that “there is no such thing as a free lunch.” The true costs of these “lower costs” and subsidizing the care is paid in part by other parties, directly or indirectly, some/many of whom won’t end up receiving as much back in return. That’s fine in principle (and quite laudable on social justice grounds), but it can get complicated in practice, as we’re finding out now. I’m not saying that we should get rid of Medicare tomorrow, but I don’t believe that Medicare + Medicaid + corporatist HC + Obamacare + Etc. are going to take us on the right path.

    I’m not qualified to delve into the technical strengths and weaknesses of the French v. Swiss plans. I don’t doubt that there are useful aspects of those systems. From my own personal experiences and observations, though, there are always going to be serious problems with third-party payers. Also, you’re probably not surprised to hear that I prefer vouchers to government-provided insurance and/or HC, but the vouchers work better if there is robust competition, not so much if government regulation has turned the “market” into a corporatist queue.

    Besides, I feel that the issues with government-managed HC systems go beyond HC outcomes strictly confined. By all means, HC is a vital issue and we must strive for the best HC outcomes possible while trying to maximize affordability. But there are differences between the NHS sending poor candidates home to die and a market system not being able to support every $1 million patient in the last months of his/her life. Even if the outcomes were on par (and I don’t believe that would be the case), the NHS scenario has a corrupting influence (in the Platonic sense) on the cultural and social life of the polity. It’s a dangerous precedent.

    I have nevertheless enjoyed debating some of the theoretical questions with you (even if I’m not much on details) and feel like I’ve learned something in the process. Thanks.

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  151. PGlenn says:

    @al-Ameda: And I’d say your exaggerating the point too far in the opposite direction. I have observed on this site, though, that you are an astute commenter. Thanks for your thoughts. Cherio!

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  152. Barry says:

    @Tsar Nicholas: I hate to say it, but I agree with Tsar Nicholas here.

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  153. Barry says:

    @anjin-san: “Since you fancy yourself a historian, perhaps you could provide some foundation for this positions. As it stands, it is simply an unsubstantiated claim. ”

    The seizure and (partial) redistribution of millions of square miles of land.
    Slavery.

    Right there are two vast government programs.

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  154. al-Ameda says:

    @john personna:

    Many people like the Swiss system, which is a mandated public/private insurance system with market elements.

    It is certainly the system I’d try to clone or adapt to American purposes and needs.

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  155. grumpy realist says:

    @PGlenn: You don’t know much about history, do you?

    I also suggest you try living under a National Health Care system and then living under the US system to understand exactly why the former works and the latter doesn’t. I lived in Japan and the U.K., and after suffering through the mish-mash mess of the US health care system, thanks, I’ll take Japan instead. So the hospitals don’t look as pretty and I got treated in an assembly-line fashion, and they nagged us about our eating habits: the fact is, I didn’t have to worry about out-of-nowhere charges for “tests”, it was a simple, predictable reduction from my paycheck every month, and there was absolutely no paperwork for me to fill out and no haggling with any insurance company.

    We have rationing and death-care panels in the US as well. They’re simply being done inside the insurance companies. And if you have pre-existing conditions and can’t get insurance at all? Well, I guess you’re just supposed to depend on the emergency rooms. (fat lot that will do you if you have cancer but aren’t dropping dead within the next 24 hours. You won’t get treated.)

    I swear, we must be the dumbest country on the earth. We have examples of public health systems all over the planet that do a better job at less cost. But we refuse to learn from them.

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  156. Take out the deduction for Employee provided health care and obligations related to that to see the “free market health care system” at work. Until that, it does not exist.

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  157. anjin-san says:

    @ Barry

    Ummm. We are talking about the relationship between government and business. Do you know what “laissez-faire” is referring to?

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  158. george says:

    @stonetools:

    The problem of international security is a complex, vital problem, fraught with danger, possibilities, and existential peril. Yet not once have I heard Friedman, Hayek, or their disciples suggest that international security is not a fit problem for the government to tackle. They also never seem to object that the government solutions cost too much money, or that they should be subject to a cost-benefit analysis. Those violently opposed to the ACA because its too costly are the same people who object to any cuts at all in the defense budget. Go figure.

    I’ve often wondered about this too. If government is inherently inefficient, wasteful, and bad at coming up at working solutions, why would anyone trust the military with huge amounts of funding, given they are just another arm of the government?

    And why would anyone who believes government to be incompetent to trust them with interfering with other countries affairs?

    Most of the people who say they are against big government are for big military, and imilitary intervention overseas – which means they’re basically lying about being against big government. They’re just nitpicking about what kind of big government they want.

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  159. PGlenn says:

    @george: okay, I tried to end my (very extensive, probably wordy) participation on this thread by not having the last comment be something like, “the conservatives/libertarians who disagree with me are . . . [liars, evil, hate old/poor people, blah, blah, blah]. I will try one last time . . .

    Government is not inherently “inefficient, wasteful, and bad.” Government is well-suited to some roles/tasks, not so well suited to others. Moreover, citizens demand that government perform a range of roles/tasks for which any institution would be inefficent, wasteful, and bad [at the job] – for example, micro-regulating the economy, or curing the root causes of social dysfunction. At other times, we ask government to do things that are corrupting of the body politic (e.g., take an active role in downtown real estate speculation and redevelopment).

    One thing that (liberal, western) governments tend to be quite effective at – sometimes for better, often for worse – is building up military capacities. By that, I mean the physical and human “hardware” of military infrastructure – weapons, well-trained soldiers, relatively efficient supply, command, communication systems, etc.

    But then the “problems” related to building a big military are relatively straightforward. For various reasons, people have a much better track record at achieving tremendous breakthroughs in terms of the physcial problems of the hard sciences, engineering, industry, and military sciences. The problems of developing nuclear weapons and sending a man to the man proved much more tractable than curing social pathologies. And it’s not only, or even primarily, because of how much we invest in militaries versus social problems, either. It’s also because, for all the astrophysics (or whatnot) involved in space travel, e.g., it’s still an easier problem, involving fewer variables, not involving pesky human behavior, etc.

    That some conservatives (I’m more of a libertarian) would have more faith in the ability of governments to build highly competent military infrastructures compared to highly competent social welfare agencies does not mean, however, that all – or even the majority of them – have anywhere near as much confidence that the military, State Dept., and other agencies or parties can competently intervene in the affairs of other nations. Maybe some “neocons” and intervenionist liberals have more confidence than others in regard to such projects, but a lot of old-school conservatives promoted the idea of building a “big military” for the pupose of hopefully never having to use it – i.e., not intervening.

    Granted, non-interventionary cons were often crowded out during the Cold War, and more recently in the wake of 9/11, but you made a blanket statement about “most people” who support a “big military” which just isn’t true (e.g., the Jim Webb faction supports a “big military”).

    Part of the reason why some proponents of a big military are not especially supportive of interventionary foreign policy, of course, is that a project like “rebuilding Iraq” is far, far more complicated than creating a lethal military. So, sure, some of them are nickpicking about what kind of big government they don’t want – the kind that is asked to “fix”(or recreate) Iraqi society and cure the root causes of American social dysfunction.

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