I Give Up
If there was ever even the faintest glimmer of hope for Wyden-Bennett or any other kind of meaningful health care reform proposal amenable to conservative and libertarian sensibilities, the Club For Growth just killed it. Honestly, I find this nothing short of sickening. It is now clear that supposedly free market leadership types really don’t give a damn about free markets or about the ways government interventon already distorts health care. No, it is instead clear that they’ve decided that the American health care system as it exists is already a paragon of free market economics in action and that what is important is continuing to drum up fear amongst seniors.
This is yet another example of precisely the issue I was trying to address the other day in discussing the falsity of using an anarcho-capitalist mindset to defeat changes to the status quo, which is already far from an anarcho-capitalist ideal.
This is not to say that Wyden-Bennett is in any sense of the word perfect or even uniformly good. There are definitely provisions that I would oppose on their own if we were building a system from scratch. So I could understand a situation where the Club For Growth and other allegedly pro-free market groups refused to support it, or even actively opposed its passage on purely tactical grounds (ie, not wanting the Obama Administration to take credit for health care reform). But to claim that it is somehow “government-run healthcare” in a meaningfully greater degree than the system we already have such that it is worth mounting an organized primary campaign against the co-author? When the central feature of the bill is the elimination of the single-worst government intervention into our health insurance system in our history, a feature that every free market group has been begging to remove for years?
With this action, the Club for Growth is signalling that it cares not one iota about introducing free market reforms into our health care system. Instead, it is clear that at least in the context of the health care debate, “free market advocacy” now means something much more akin to “defender of government-run programs like Medicare and Medicaid, defender of employer-based health insurance, and defender of heavily-regulated state health insurance monopolies and oligopolies.” There is only one word I can think of for those who would couch their defense of the, dare I say it, statist status quo in terms of being free market advocates: nihilists.
UPDATE: Relatedly: there are not going to be many times that I agree with Digby on things having to do with issues other than civil liberties. But this is one of those times. Read it – it’s good stuff, even if I think Digby’s slightly too hard on the Blue Dog Democrats, who really do tend to be from districts where any significant health care reform at all is a political hot potato. Still, the analysis strikes me as about right, especially this bit:
“But in the end the Republicans may just force them to pass something decent anyway by failing to give them the cover for capitulation they so desperately need. It’s an interesting squeeze play that may backfire on the GOP in the long run if good health care reform is passed.”