By Request: The Incredible Disappearing Plan


Mark of New Jersey

Mark is a Founding Editor of The League of Ordinary Gentlemen, the predecessor of Ordinary Times.

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118 Responses

  1. Avatar Michael Drew says:

    Tax reform for Dems. Immigration reform for Rs.Report

    • Avatar NewDealer says:

      I think the Democratic Party has a tax plan but not necessarily one they can pass or would be considered bipartisan.

      Though on stuff like corproate loop holes you are right.Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        And didn’t D’s offer a plan to simplify forms and filing requirements that got shot down by R’s in the not too recent past?

        I tried to google details, but there such constant barrage of new news, when it comes to the intransigence of parties, that it was impossible to find without better search terms.Report

    • Avatar greginak says:

      Each side has tax reform ideas they like that aren’t even remote starters with the other side. Neither side tries very hard at it since any real tax reform requires taking things away from voters which voters like. Nobody wants to get the immense bucket of poo that would be thrown at them be making a serious effort. The only thing each side will throw out for tax reform are those things that are safe with their base.Report

    • Avatar Michael Drew says:

      There are certain things Republicans actually might(!) do on health care if they had a long, leisurely time in the majority with some Republican presidents along the way. I think it’s kind of the same with Dems and reforming the tax code revenue-neutrally to make it simpler, etc. (of course, they’re always happy to raise taxes on the rich and extend cuts to the middle class in ways they think will raise revenue!). What might be said is that Democrats don’t float as many proposals they don’t remotely care to pass (i.e. they’re more extensive than anything they would eventually get around to even if at their political leisure in the majority for an extended period) on the topic to seem to be concerned with the issue when that’s an imperative as Republicans do on health care.Report

      • Avatar Troublesome Frog says:

        Well, they did have the House, Senate and the White House for four straight years not too long ago. I think that Medicare Part D came out right at the start of that stint, but I don’t remember anything else on healthcare.

        If your goal is to sell the electorate on the idea that you have a vision and will implement it if they vote for you, doing something meaningful in the space of two House terms might be a good way to start. “Vote for me and I’ll do something after you vote for me in a few more elections” becomes a tougher and tougher sell as time goes on.Report

    • Avatar zic says:

      The principle in action on immigration reform.Report

  2. Avatar NewDealer says:

    Education reform for both parties but that might be because both parties are incredibly split on what to do with education and Rhee or Ravitch factions split across party lines. Interestingly John Chait and Matt Y both had columns on this today. Like Chait and Matt Y, I am opposed to efforts by the rich of Baton Rogue to separate themselves from the poor of Baton Rogue. However, I disagree with them that charter schools and Rhee-backed reforms are the way to go. There are good policy reasons for making schools local and having kids attend school locally (namely two-hour commutes seem tough and unfair for kids). Plus I’m skeptical of the alleged gains of charter schools. My preference would be for finding a way to decouple property taxes as the funding mechanism for school districts.

    College Loan and Student tuition reform for both parties as well.

    Mass Incarceration and Sentencing Reform by both parties. Tough talk on harder drugs and reforming the Drug War from both parties.

    Again all of my picks might be because both parties are split on the issues.Report

  3. Avatar zic says:

    I’m intrigued by how Chiat documented negotiating points not offered in good faith. I presume Democratic policies are probably offered without good faith, too, but I have trouble identifying them.

    That’s actually part of abuse, did you know that? Abusers often tell their victims they’ll give some compromise, and then move the goal post, asking for a bit more compromise, until there’s nothing left to compromise.

    Cap and trade legislation.Report

    • Avatar Kim says:

      Cap and Trade legislation got so bollixed up that it might as well have been offered without good faith by the Democrats.

      Dole’s disappearing health care plan after Hillary starts the chain. when you control congress and don’t pass your competing bill, you really just want the status quo.

      If we had elected Edwards, I’d submit that his health care plan might very well have contained a poison pill. (That’s what happens when you elect practicing lawyers).Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        Kim, Dem’s on cap-n-trade was the point. I was looking for Democratic examples of not negotiating in good faith.Report

      • Avatar North says:

        If we’d elected Edwards he would have made Clinton look like a Saint (and lacked slick Willie’s positives); his entire party (and liberals everywhere) would have envied the dead and we’d be well into either a Mccain or Romney Presidency now.Report

  4. Avatar j r says:

    This is a bit unfair of Chait. Of course, Chait is a a political partisan in the truest sense, so he gets paid to be unfair. The lack of some holistic Republican health care plan probably has something to do with the fact that Republicans don’t generally advocate for a holistic centrally planned health care system. There are lots of right-of-center one-off health care reforms that anyone with the inclination and access to Google could find if he wanted.

    To answer the question, however, I would say that the obvious Democratic counterpart to this is meaningful fiscal reform. Whenever someone wants to cut some spending program, Democrats respond by claiming that either that particular program is too important to cut or that now is not the right time to cut. And when asked about long-term fiscal sustainability, they respond with something along the lines of: (1) there is not long-term fiscal sustainability problem, (2) we can grow our way out of debt, or (3) fiscal sustainability is important, but we need to pursue it in a responsible manner that doesn’t cut spending to the bone and leave millions of Americans out in the cold.

    I will be surprised if I ever see that responsible plan materialize.Report

    • Avatar greginak says:

      Well yeah R’s don’t believe in a centralized health care system( except for old people, children of poor people. vets and the disabled, so yeah with those exceptions R’s are against gov being involved in HC). What they don’t want to then say is what the consequences of that are and have been. We’ve had decades of people not being able to get insurance due to pre-exsisting conditions, tens of millions who weren’t insured, many other millions who only had insurance because of the gov and spiraling costs. They haven’t been able to produce a plan that starts to deal with those things but they also don’t want to accept that their ideology limits actually dealing with those things.Report

      • Avatar Patrick says:

        Yeah, basically this.

        It’s one thing to say, “We’re not for that, we accept the consequences of not being for that.”

        It’s another thing to say, “We don’t like their plan for that, because we think the negative consequences of this plan outweigh the advantages of that plan.”

        Finally it’s yet another another thing to say, “We’re totally against their plan for that, because their plan has all of these consequences, and our plan (which doesn’t actually exist) wouldn’t have any of those consequences!”Report

    • Avatar Michael Drew says:

      Republicans don’t generally advocate for a holistic centrally planned health care system

      Absolutely, but that’s kind of the point. Chait’s point, and “the” point, is that bogus, comprehensive-y plans like this tend to proliferate whenever the issue-area is front and center, because not seeming to have a broad, ambitious agenda in a policy area as large and problematic as health care when another major party does can be and is a real political problem.Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        Wouldn’t it just be okay to say “we don’t think this should be regulated?” Why the smoke-and-mirrors?

        If nothing else, Obamacare highlights the risks of offering plans in bad faith rather then just saying we’re happy to let the problems fester and resolve of their own accord.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:

        Wouldn’t it just be okay to say “we don’t think this should be regulated?” Why the smoke-and-mirrors?

        Because “won’t somebody please think of the children” and “you don’t care if people die in the streets” are effective, if not wholly honest, responses.Report

      • Avatar greginak says:

        Not completely honest but not completely wrong either. There are results from any policy. It would be best if people would own up to the likely results of the polices they push. R’s end up doing enough to try to seem like, or even actually try to, deal with not wanting kids and old people to die in the streets. That is part of the reason we have the cobbled together system we have had. There could be bi-partisan support for SCHIP since it takes care of kids or Medicare/caid for old people and disabled, because many R’s wanted to help find solutions for those screwed over folks. But that led to a piecemeal system that wasn’t comprehensive leaving plenty of people screwed. That also leads to the “keep the government out of my medicare” kind of stuff.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch says:

        Rs believe if we’d quit getting government involved we’d have a combination of more extensive private charity and more diligent personal responsibility. They may or may not be dead wrong, but to say they’re uncaring about things like people dying on the street is to miss the extent to which they think this is not a consequence of their policies, but of liberal social policies that prevent the proper functioning of their policies.

        Like I said, they might be dead wrong in their expectations about outcomes, but to say they are satisfied with the outcomes we actually get is not honest. It is, however, effective. And the more people who believe it is actually sorta-kinda true, the more effective it is.Report

      • Avatar greginak says:

        You are correct about what many R’s believe. I heard that many times in conversations. What i’ve asked is “what happens if( when) charity doesn’t care for all the people? What happens to people with pre-existing conditions? I’ve gotten a couple typical answers. One is something like “mumble mumble, well the government should do something is those cases” and I’ve heard more than once that ” Tough. Not my responsibility.”

        There is certainly a wide variety in beliefs and no i don’t think most R’s want people to suffer.Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        One of my favorite examples of this conversation is how it hobbles Democrats ability to discuss deregulation and regulatory rollback. Obama gets little credit for some significant regulatory rollback, it’s not popular among D’s, and R’s can’t give him any credit.

        But I don’t think I’m alone amongst liberals in appreciating that over regulation and overly-complex regulation (taxes, anyone) are a burden; and sadly, R’s dominant the conversation with a fantasy of eliminating whole departments of government and their work, sending it, I presume, to the states without funding. We end up in unable to have actual real discussion about it. The whole issue of regulatory reform is so dominated by Republicans that there’s no daylight.

        The social media conversations never evolve to the common goals people hold, it just turns into armed camps; all regulation’s bad R’s and never saw one I didn’t like D’s.


      • Avatar Patrick says:

        They may or may not be dead wrong, but to say they’re uncaring about things like people dying on the street is to miss the extent to which they think this is not a consequence of their policies, but of liberal social policies that prevent the proper functioning of their policies.

        This is one of those times when I have to say, “If your policies only function when the other side has vanished off the face of the earth, I think your policies can truly be said to be broken.”

        If you can’t deal with the fact that there is an opposition to some of your policy goals or implementations (in good faith, at least!) and accommodate that to some degree, then you’re advocating a method of governance where the only way anything gets done is for one side to own every facet of government and ram their agenda down everyone’s throat. And then maintain ownership of government.

        You know who *else* wanted to maintain ownership of government…Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:

        While I think @jm3z-aitch is right, the R’s don’t help the perception that they are wholly uncaring when things like this happen:

      • Avatar James Hanley says:

        Sure, folks, I never claimed Rs don’t do a damned good job of shooting themselves in the foot. That just helps make the Ds’ strategy that much more effective.Report

      • Avatar Troublesome Frog says:


        Rs believe if we’d quit getting government involved we’d have a combination of more extensive private charity and more diligent personal responsibility.

        The problem here is that the believe things which would make them sound crazy and would cost them lots and lots of votes if they articulated those beliefs clearly. That’s a sad situation to be in, but not one that generates a lot of pity from me.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:


        “Rs believe if we’d quit getting government involved we’d have a combination of more extensive private charity and more diligent personal responsibility.

        I’d venture to guess that within Republican ranks, the bolded section is going to be the more dominant belief. While I don’t regularly frequent many Republican circles, when I do, the ratio of people emphasizing boot-strap-pulling relative to those emphasizing private charity is very high. At least in terms of common talking points; if pressed, the responses may become more nuanced.

        I think you might be getting some pushback here because folks are zeroing in on the ‘private charity’ part of your comment and thinking, “That doesn’t sound like any Republicans I know.” Which may be true. But doesn’t invalidate your statement given the bolded section. I know that is where my mind went at first and only upon re-reading did I fully grasp what you were saying.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:

        You know, I think y’all are going off on a tangent. I was just answering the “why smoke and mirrors” question. You guys can sing the Rs are crazy folk with bad ideas refrain we’ve all heard so often it’s like we’re listening to top 40 radio, but I wasn’t really arguing against that.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq says:

        @james-hanley, what Troublesome Frog said. Arguing for greater “personal responsibility” is basically arguing that your on your own from a liberal perspective. In other columns, Chait made the observation that GOP politicians don’t seem to believe that random chance or luck determine anything but most people know that sh*t happens. That entire point of the welfare state is to protect people from the vagrancies of life or at least soften the force of impact.

        As to private charity picking up the slack, private charity has to get its money from people willingly giving it to them. This happens quite a bit but it isn’t enough money to provide for everybody who suffers from the randomness of life. There is never going to be enough money or volunteer work given to private charity in order to help everybody or even most people who really need it.Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        Smoke and mirrors.

        Boot straps, babies. Start making your boot straps today. Because I have not seen any headlines about all you babies being adopted successfully into families already strapped up.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:

        Good lord, folks, could you pile on just a little bit more in attacking something I didn’t actually say?

        Please move on to another topic. This thread is pure echo chamber now, and I wasn’t even defending Republican policies, intelligence, or honesty. Sheesh.Report

      • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

        James Hanley February 6, 2014 at 10:01 pm
        Good lord, folks, could you pile on just a little bit more in attacking something I didn’t actually say?

        Please move on to another topic. This thread is pure echo chamber now, and I wasn’t even defending Republican policies, intelligence, or honesty. Sheesh.

        I heard you were trying to be a contributor again after quitting the first time under the heat. Plus ca change.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        And you came back to take a dig at someone. Plus ça change, en effet!Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        @tom-van-dyke I’m glad you showed up.

        Can you think of examples where the Democrats put forward a plan that they knew they wouldn’t support, as in the various Republican alternatives to health care reform?

        I’d love some examples to pull this out of a liberal echo chamber. I’d be much obliged.

        And It’s nice to see you again. I hope you and your family are well.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch says:

        Heh, who said quitters never win?Report

      • [Gratuitously piles on @jm3z-aitch just to be an ass.]Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch says:


        Just do me a favor and take your polar vortex back already, OK? I had fun playing with it, but I’m over it now.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:


        Are you counting me among those piling on? I certainly was not trying to do so, especially in my second comment where I was trying to reflect on why you might be getting the response you were. If I came across that way, I apologize and will try to write more clearly in the future.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch says:


        No. I got what you were saying.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew says:

        FTR, I wrote a response to James, and before he squeaked under the weight of the pile-on, I decided, eh, not worth it. I’m just going to go ahead and take some minor credit for that.

        Though: it was on exactly what creates the need for the plans they don’t believe in, not the merits of their actual policy preferences, though those do become a necessary part of that discussion. (I.e. the basic problem they face is the fundamental unpalatability, given the public’s being conditioned to the decades-old status quo of 2009, of what they’d enact if given free reign and somehow became inclined to govern purely in reference to their policy theories and totally without regard to political pressures .)Report

      • Avatar Damon says:

        Disclosure: This post is pure trolling

        Hey suckers, FYIGM. “Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses?” And that’s what orphanages are for.

        Discuss. :pReport

    • Avatar Kim says:

      Social Security is not a trainwreck. Medicare is a trainwreck waiting to happen. Obamacare proposes to fix the health care system. If this does occur, Obama will have fixed a substantial part of our fiscal issues. /IF/ it occurs — it’s debatable what’s going to happen.Report

  5. Avatar zic says:

    Did being actively against wars in Iraq and Afghanistan by Dems, who submitted legislation that went exactly no where, rise to the level of Heritage Uncertainty Principle back in 2001 to 2005?Report

    • Avatar Kolohe says:

      I’m going to say no. The democratic consensus was always against the Iraq war, but in support of the Afghanistan one. By the time the Dems controlled both the Congress and the White House in 2009, the Iraq war was already on the path to full withdrawal, and the Afghanistan war was escalated, as promised. So everyone did what they said they were going to do.Report

  6. Avatar zic says:

    The debt ceiling is another example.

    And we’re about to get a new episode of the debate, and see another plan that vanishes, hopefully without so much cost to the greater good.Report

  7. The Liberal Party of Canada fell into this sort of trap in the last federal election when it came to the corporate tax rate (I think). The Tories thought it should be lower and the NDP though it should be higher. The Liberals tried a Goldilocks gambit, claiming that the Tories would bankrupt the country with the cut (it would cost billions of dollars and destroy millions of jobs–claims that no economist took seriously), but could never really articulate why, if low corporate taxes were so bad, that they wouldn’t just sign on to the NDP’s plan to raise them much more.

    It was pretty clear that they wanted to attack the Tories’ plan without having to really propose anything else, or live with the consequences of a counter-proposal.

    This is similar to past Liberal governments that were adamantly opposed to trade and tax reform while they were in opposition, but sat back and reaped the benefits of those reforms when they actually gained power.Report

  8. Avatar morat20 says:

    While Chait is correct on the optics, the GOP does actually have a plan for health care. it’s just an incredibly unpopular one, so they offer the disappearing plan in an effort to avoid people noticing how unpopular their real plan is.

    Which is, as far as I can tell, high-risk/high-deductable plans, taxing employee-offered insurance as income, and a few other things all designed to make the individual more price sensitive.

    Mostly because the conservative position on rising health care costs is that consumers don’t shop around for the cheapest cardiologists during their heart attack, and because health care is so fun that consumers just take as much of it as they can. Like an all-you-can eat buffet of painful and humiliating, unpleasant procedures.

    Because the doctor’s office is like a spa.

    If I — or the average insured America — over-consume health care, it’s because my bloody doctor told me to and I only did it kicking and screaming. Nobody gets a root canal for fun, nobody decides today’s the day for a colonoscopy just for kicks.

    Which is why the “it’s all on you, buddy, pick a cheap doctor and ask yourself if you really NEED that root canal” plan is so unpopular. Because medical care isn’t a luxury purchase that can be budgeted for, cheaper replacements found, or gone without if need be.Report

    • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

      Mostly because the conservative position on rising health care costs is that consumers don’t shop around for the cheapest cardiologists during their heart attack

      I am 99% certain that you’ve seen explanations of why this is a strawman on this very site, on multiple occasions.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        Yup. The real conservative position is “Veterans benefits are the new welfare” — and next on the chopping block.

        Which is even more unpopular. But that’s why they’ve got Propagandists Like Limbaugh around — to sell people on exactly how ungrateful all our servicemen are, and exactly how much “woo-woo” medicine they’re getting for PTSD. (See? I can write Propaganda too!)Report

      • Avatar morat20 says:

        Brandon: The only way HSA and High-Deductible plans work to reduce health care costs is if you think the average American is over consuming health care. That’s the nice way it works. The red in tooth and claw version is “Because they you can’t afford giant chunks of it, so go without even though you need it, sucks to be you”.

        You’re welcome to explain to the rest of us how the high-deductible plans and high-risk pools otherwise work to reduce health care costs.

        You can call it a strawman all you like, but it’s the only consistent conservative position on health care I’ve seen in the last 5 years, and I can’t think of another possible way “Making consumers pay more for health care” can reduce health care costs unless you think they’re over consuming it.

        And if you think that, I’d love to hear your explanation of how and why Americans do so. I can think of a few offhand, but they all have more to do with doctors than patients — because in the end, patients tend to do what their doctors ask or less not demand more. (Well, except in the case of antibiotics, which is prescription drugs and is a whole other discussion).Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        to be nice, i’m going to help brandon out.
        Rates for an MRI can vary up to fivefold between hospitals.
        So even if you get the same MRI, if you pay attention to rates
        you get it from the cheaper hospital.

        I will continue to assert that the conservative position is
        “take less tax dollars” bar none — including veterans,
        who are surprisingly easy to demonize.Report

      • Avatar morat20 says:

        Sure, you’re absolutely right costs vary for cash users. People without insurance.

        I’d bet 100 bucks right now that the cost MY insurance company pays for an MRI varies less than 10 dollars between every MRI site in Houston they cover.

        And that that insurance end cost is cheaper than the cheapest cash up front option.Report

      • Avatar morat20 says:

        Sorry, forgot the end (and kinda obvious) point: Which means HSA’s and high-deductible plans won’t reduce the costs of health-care because insurance companies can and will always be able to negotiate a better deal for a service than I will.

        HSAs and high-deductible plans would cause me to seek less health care, and that’s been shown time and time again to mean “less preventative healthcare”, “less maintenance health care”

        Which means I’ll — in this case the average consumer — will skip those pesky blood sugar tests but WILL (strangely) show up when I go into a coma from low blood sugar. (well, if I were diabetic). Or my kidneys give out.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        That is absolutely not the case up in Western PA. [fivefold might be an exaggeration, but it’s not by much.]Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        @morat20 I do not disagree with you here except for one detail:

        have a high-deductible plan gives you the benefit of the rate the insurance company negotiates for the treatment. And it’s to the companies benefits to keep those rates low for high deductible plans because it makes it ever-more difficult for people on those plans to actually ever reach a point where the insurance company has to pay anything (that’s if the insured person is relatively healthy.)

        I have severe migraine, my sweetie stenosis; and while we had such a plan, despite our chronic disease, never reached our deductible.Report

      • Avatar morat20 says:

        And they’re great plans for the young and healthy. But I carry three people on my plan — a normal year, it’d be slightly cheaper. A bad year? I’d be out thousands. And my wife and I are getting old enough that bad years are too likely to risk it.

        HSA’s and high-deductible plans are great for the right people. I’m not against them at all.

        They’re just not a solution to health care costs, unless your idea of a solution is for the large numbers of people to forgo every bit of medically necessary care they can without outright dying. And then blow through their deductible as soon as it all snowballs. That might save money, at the expense of a great deal of human misery.Report

      • Avatar Rod says:

        @morat20 – And they’re great plans for the young and healthy.

        You forgot the most salient point: they’re great plans for high-income types. People that can afford to shell out a few thousand over and above the cost of premiums. Pre-ACA I went shopping online for a family plan. The cheapest plan was about a grand per month with $5K deductible and 30% copay. That would suck up over 10% of pre-tax income BEFORE any of us actually went to a doctor. The deductible would mean I was bankrupt before the company paid out a penny.Report

      • Avatar Murali says:

        The over consumption is point on, but that’s not what the straw man is about. The straw man is talking about shopping around when you get a heart attack. After you’ve recovered from an emergency situation, you bloody well can shop around for a surgeon who would do it on the cheap. You can get your non-emergency care from hospitals and clinics which are cheaper. Emergency care is the one time that shopping around is impracticable and you mention that limited case as though the point was extendable to other sort’s of cases? gimme a break. Of course you’re pushing a straw man

        A lot of preventative care e.g. regular checkups etc has relatively little effect in actually significantly extending life for most people. for example, you only really need to start screening for cancer in your fifties not in your forties.

        In the US,a lot of money is spent on geriatrics, palliative and other EOL care and relatively ineffective but expensive efforts at life extension. Being price sensitive would enormously cut down on this sort of stuff.Report

      • Avatar Murali says:

        The above was in reply to @morat20Report

      • Avatar Morat20 says:

        Murali, no it won’t because that’s NOT how Americans shop.

        First and foremost: Your insurance company will always (1) get a better deal on a service than you will and (2) tends to err on the side of NOT covering stuff rather than doing it. Which means your insurance company is doing a far better job of holding down prices because their bottom line depends on it, and they can bring to bear the power of group bargaining onto doctors.

        In the total absence of insurance, Americans get the service their doctors tell them to. They do not go out and buy colonoscopies, in general, because they are the new great thing.

        People, by and large, actively avoid medical care. It is a thing they’d prefer not to need filled with procedures they’d prefer not to have done. But they don’t have a choice, because “being sick” sucks more.

        Again, this theory of price sensitivity only work is you (1) think individuals can get cheaper medical prices than insurance companies can and (2) think Americans are over consuming health care in vast quantities.

        Neither of which are true.

        People don’t over tend consume things they only buy because they have to which is again where this theory runs off the rails.Report

  9. Avatar Brandon Berg says:

    Global warming. Any serious attempt to address it involves raising energy costs. This would be tremendously unpopular, so we get symbolic gestures.Report

    • Avatar morat20 says:

      IIRC, liberals are by and large on board with either a cap-and-trade setup or — on the more left end — a straight up carbon tax.

      Conservatives seem a bit more iffy on it, mostly because they’ve got a pretty hard reactionary “NO SUCH THING” wing that liberals lack.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        Conservatives are good at denying scientific evidence: it’s what they do. And libertarians are good at saying “It doesn’t matter whether it’s true or not, because the market will sort it out either way.” That leaves liberals to be the responsible adults. No wonder we’re so unpopular.Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        I would very much like to agree with you, @morat20

        But I think knowing that nothing would actually happen on any legislation gave liberals a lot of room to propose things they know would, if adopted, be extremely unpopular; popular with the liberal base in theory, but not in practice. So they felt/feel free to offer unacceptable polices in lieu of actual policies.

        That said, I think liberals are inclined to address Climate Change, actually do have a number of options that they’d be happy to sign into law, and if there was some hope of actual passage, the plans wouldn’t vanish into nothing as Republican health-care plans have vanished.

        So I think this is not an example of the Heritage Uncertainty Principle; it’s more of someway to keep the conversation going and educate the public; not a way to pretend having a conversation you’ve know intention of having.Report

      • Avatar j r says:


        Do you only imagine that conversation in your head or do you actually act it out with tiny little straw action figures?Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch says:

        j r,

        Take it from one whose been around these parts a while. Schilling’s secretly a libertarian want-to-be, but living in the Bay Area he has to hide it with the use of black humor.

        He’s also secretly a Dodger’s fan.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        J@m3z is dead to me.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch says:

        I thought about insulting your mother, then I thought, “Nah, I’m really going to hit him where it hurts.”Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:


        Right, Huntsman being the only GOP presidential hopeful who’d dare say that he believes in evolution says nothing about the ability of conservatives to ignore science. And no libertarian magazine would ever publish a piece like this one.Report

      • Avatar Jesse Ewiak says:

        Come on Mike, we all know the people who run Reason aren’t real libertarians. Acting like they are is very hurtful to real libertarians, who I think number half a dozen.Report

      • Avatar zic says:


        That would be Real Libertarians™, not ‘real libertarians.

        Style matters.Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        Which, of course, make it inevitable that I’d flub the tags!Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch says:


        I can easily get why you don’t like the tone of that article, but can you actually point to where they ignore science.

        I’d also be curious to know why it’s presumably illegitimate to say there are more important issues that we can make more ready progress on.

        Or is it simply that everybody knows that global warming is the greatest threat ever to human life, so all we really have to do is point and laugh at anyone who questions the assigned threat level?Report

      • Avatar LWA says:

        If your political philosophy was formed by a guy who wanted to stand athwart the world and yell “STOP” you’ve pretty much ceded most of the “anti-science” argument.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch says:


        That covers conservatives, although it’s a pretty shallow argument (you do know he wasn’t really talking about Sci/Tech, don’t you….or don’t you?), but what about libertarianism?Report

      • Avatar LWA says:

        Yes, I know it was shallow- but the thing is, conservatives place a tremendous amount of pride in their brand, the word “conservative”m falling all over themselves to grab that mantle.
        And Buckley’s complaint went far beyond stopping socialism- its completely fair to say that Burkean skepticism of change often merges from simple reactionism.

        To be fair, libertarians do have a welcome openness to science.Report

      • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

        Conservatives are good at denying scientific evidence: it’s what they do

        When it contraindicates their agenda. Just as leftists do with economics.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        Can some one ask J@m3z what about “dead to me” he doesn’t understand?

        Anyway, I never said that libertarians deny science.Report

  10. Avatar Jaybird says:

    what other examples of this phenomenon

    Would we be able to look at what Democrats said about the Republican Health Care plan in the 90’s? Would that meet spec?Report

    • Avatar zic says:

      I don’t think so, JB.

      Republican health care plans in the ’90’s were a way for Republicans to faux-talk about health care; they never actually intended to enact it, just to derail.

      But you’re welcome to prove that I’m incorrect.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        Oh, I’m not talking about the sincerity of the Republicans. We all know that they’re totally bad.

        I was just wondering whether the explanations of why it would be wrong to enact the Heritage plan would tell us anything interesting about the plan’s critics at the time.Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        I’m sure you’re onto something meaningful, can you explain it better?

        Did Democrats offer vaporware in response to the Heritage Plan? (I was in the midst of raising small children at the time, and my memory filled with things that, at the time, seemed much more important. I was trusting Hillary to handle this one.)Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        Oh, not vaporware. They were offering Hillary’s plan.

        I’m just wondering if the criticisms of the Heritage Plan provide an interesting counter-point.

        If we’re just looking for “have the Democrats ever offered vaporware in response to a Republican policy”, I can’t think of anything. The stuff that Republicans wanted to do from 2002-2006 generally had hella bipartisan support.Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        On the heritage plan, once the Clinton plan had been scuttled, the conversation turned to 1) welfare reform, 2) white water 3) government shutdown 4) monica and 5) impeachment. It did not turn to the Heritage Plan.Report

      • Avatar morat20 says:

        To be fair, the Heritage Plan DID finally see the light under the name “ACA”. Of course, by then, the Heritage plan was widely seen as the Most Liberal Thing ever, socialism, the death of capitalism and American uniqueness, a giveaway to the poor, the destruction of all that is holy, and of course unconstitutional.

        Flaws that, strangely, were not visible to the 1994 GOP. I can only assume they spent the 14 years between 1994 and the “Basically the Heritage plan, guys” ACA in 2008 studying the plan intently and, of course, learned much.

        Like what a horrible, horrible, socialistic, unAmerican, unconstitutional plan it was. Thank GOD they took their time mulling it over.

        That 14-year study period is, of course, why the “replace” part of “repeal and replace” (and the “our plan” part of “Healthcare reform”) is merely “HSA and catastrophic coverage mumble-mumble-tort-reform-mumble-magic-rainbow-ponies-mumble”.

        They spent that time other, lesser parties would have spent trying to come up with a solution studying the Constitution.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        Ah, those really bad Republicans! How bad they are!

        Out of curiosity, is the opposition to the Heritage Plan from back then worth looking at or can we conclude that since Heritage (and probably the Kochs!) were behind it at that point that we know that the people who opposed it then were doing so because they had the best interests of everybody in mind?Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        I was just googling, JB, and trying to find any criticisms of it. Sadly, that’s before things were regularly archived on the internet, and I’m falling short; only finding more recent history looking back which isn’t all that interested in analyzing critiques and debates from the time.

        But the ’92 election featured Ross Perot and that great sucking sound of NAFTA pulling jobs south of the border. Too bad that didn’t put a dint in illegal immigration, hey?Report

      • Avatar greginak says:

        Maybe we could look at the criticism of the Heritage Plan from when they proposed it when Bush was pres. and pushed really hard to get it implemented. I mean they had a president and a congress to push through their priorities, so what did they do then. How did the mean ol D’s criticize the R plan when the R’s tried to fix our health care problems. I guess we could also look to see what and when the R’s offered health plans that weren’t in reaction to D plans.Report

      • Avatar Burt Likko says:

        Or in the realm of the possible, @greginak , we could look at criticism of the original plan offered by Heritage and the similar plan implemented under Governor Romney in Massachusetts. I’d be interested in seeing criticism of that plan from both left and right.

        What you suggest is not possible, because AFAICR, the only significant health care reform Bush the Younger actually pushed on was Medicare Part D, which large majorities of both GOP and Dem politicians favored.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        It’s weird… I can find all sorts of articles explaining how hypocritical the Republicans are for not supporting their plan from before but no articles explaining why it wasn’t passed back then when they did support it.Report

      • Avatar greginak says:

        Well there was plenty of criticism of Romneycare during the national role out of Romenycare, aka (mostly) Obamacare. So there is plenty of that to go on. Plenty of liberals and D’s wanted far more then O/Rcare and pointed out the problems with it. We could figure that national R’s only offer a health care plan in response to a D plan but never actually do anything about their plans.

        There was plenty of criticism of Medicare part D. I certainly don’t remember vote totals nor did i look them up. One could, though, say D cooperated with R’s when R’s tried to do something. We could also look at what R’s did when D’s tried to do something.Report

      • Avatar greginak says:

        Its even weirder Jay that you didn’t notice that R’s didn’t , you know, try to actually pass their Heritage Plan through congress when they did say they supported it. I think its somewhere in the 3rd week of Politics 101 that the prof explains that parties often talk about a plan so they have a talking point, but never do anything get it enacted, like propose a bill, whip support, get a lot of co-signers…you know… do bill passing stuff. Is that cynical and do BOTH SIDES DO IT , yes and yes, but still doesn’t mean every plan floated out there by anybody was really an attempt to actually get something passed.Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        Here’s a list of key political happenings during GHWB’s 4 years in office. There’s nothing about any sort of health-care reform on it.

        The NYT archives as the ’92 history on dueling health care plans being proposed by each party:

        Same website, Clinton presidency, we get his reform failure, and in 1996, Cobra:

        And no action at all during GWB’s presidency. A plan, offered too late to Congress, that seems mostly designed to be a campaign issue.

        going back with this particular time machine, we need to go back to Nixon, and the creation of OSHA, to even have the word ‘health’ turn up.Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        Can someone free a comment (and feel free to delete this freeing request?)Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        Its even weirder Jay that you didn’t notice that R’s didn’t , you know, try to actually pass their Heritage Plan through congress when they did say they supported it.

        Greg, how many times do I need to talk about how evil Republicans are? I guess at least once more…

        Republicans are evil. How evil they are isn’t really up for debate because we all agree that they are evil. Evil evil evil. They’re so evil that even Republicans know that they’re evil.

        Should I start a thread dedicated to that? So, like, the next time I ask about the democrats doing something bad and you’d rather talk about how bad the Republicans are, we can just go over to that thread for a while and talk about how bad the Republicans are?

        Because I won’t argue with you.

        Because the Republicans are bad.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        There was plenty of criticism of Medicare part D. I certainly don’t remember vote totals nor did i look them up.

        Almost all of the Democrats voted against it in the House and I think about a dozen Democrats voted for it in the senate. That’s more support than the GOP gave PPACA, obviously, though almost any amount of support is more than that.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater says:

        Jaybird, what goal are you trying to achieve by getting us to consider the Dimmycrat criticisms of the ACA? That politics is a real thing, and people shape their views to achieve certain political ends?

        I don’t think anyone would disagree with that.

        Is it to establish an equivalence between the two parties – that both are equally hypocritical and disingenuous? That’s the old line of yours that no one seems to be buying.

        Really, I don’t know what you’re trying to achieve here. It just seems like equating Haggard and Gore all over again.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater says:

        Heh. Not the ACA but the Heritage Plan.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        Well, the original post was about “the incredible disappearing plan” but I was wondering if “the incredible disappearing opposition to the plan” was an interesting phenomenon.

        I’m pretty sure that we’ve all come to the conclusion that it isn’t.

        I’d be happy to drop it.


      • Avatar Stillwater says:

        haven’t read the whole thread, so this may have been mentioned: does immigration reform count as another example of an incredible shrinking GOP plan?Report

      • Avatar greginak says:

        Jay, consider your strawman torched. well done. your elephant undie ( to steal North’s phrase) is solid. I just wonder why you are working at it.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        I would think that that’s somewhat of a different dynamic due to the tea party. The Republican Elite, if left to their own devices, would love to come up with another Bipartisan Immigration Reform Bill. The tea party, however, has threatened to primary the ever-living crap out of anybody whose immigration bill doesn’t focus on “enforcement” (for example, builds a wall) rather than on A Path To Citizenship.

        This is a situation where I suspect, absent the tea partiers, the Republicans would actually want to play ball (if only because the less dumb of them know that they have a choice between having problems with Latino Voters and having HOLY SHIT MAJOR PROBLEMS WITH LATINO VOTERS and they’d prefer the former).Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch says:

        Republicans are evil. … Should I start a thread dedicated to that? So, like, the next time I ask about the democrats doing something bad and you’d rather talk about how bad the Republicans are, we can just go over to that thread for a while and talk about how bad the Republicans are?

        Better make it sticky, dude.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        It depends on what elements one considers crucial. The last Republican president made a significant effort at immigration reform, which counts for something. That his opposition came from his own party makes it less than whole, however.

        With regard to Democrats supporting or opposing the Heritage Plan, it’s pure speculation but I suspect it would go very similar to Medicaid Part D. Democrats would loudly oppose it, try to kill it before it passes, play “wait and see” once it does pass with talk of reforming it as soon as they’re back in office, and then drop opposition (or possibly argue for expansion) if it becomes popular. Which is less than supportive, but a far cry from going atomic like the GOP did with PPACA.

        I find it amusing that the guy who has said fifty times that Republicans are evil is “wearing the undies”… the threshold for that falls ever downward. With so few Republicans around, I suppose we make them where we can find them.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch says:

        I wonder how our conclusions would change if we looked at this like political realists instead of political moralists?Report

      • Avatar Stillwater says:

        With regard to Democrats supporting or opposing the Heritage Plan, it’s pure speculation but I suspect it would go very similar to Medicaid Part D.

        To the degree the ACA is similar to the Heritage Plan and the GOP proposed it, I think we can pretty reliably speculate that the House would have oppose it from the left. Because that’s what they did. They only passed the ACA as it’s currently constructed reluctantly. If not for Lieberman, no one knows what the final bill wouldn’t looked like, but it seems to me it would have looked more like the House bill.

        But what if the GOP was serious about HC reform and proposed enacting at the national level when they had the power to do so rather than floating it as a counter-proposal when the Dems have power? Would have supported the some tweaked version of the bill? Of would they have sabotaged it because it was too far to the right or to prevent the GOP from gaining a significant policy victory?

        The whole scenario strikes me as so imaginatively counterfactual that intuitions really break down. And of course, the breakdown point is that the GOP never proposed the bill when they had the chance.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        Would [Dems?] have supported the some tweaked version of the bill

        That was the scenario that the paragraph was dedicated to. My suspicion is that it would have gone very much like Medicare Part D did. Yes, they would have tried to kill it (though more likely than not would have fallen short of unanimity). No, they wouldn’t have tried to sabotage it after-the-fact.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater says:

        Yeah, I’m pretty much in agreement. They’d fight like cats and dogs to get some of their stuff in there, and might even be successful in doing so. (The whole premise is relies is that the GOP would actually sincerely desire to enact HC reform along Heritage Plan lines which would require them to be willing (to some extent) to compromise on some of the particulars, which begs the basic question Chait is providing an answer to.) Politically, I think they’d say “foot in the door, tweak to make better”. Dem voters – especially the base – would probably scream till their lungs bled. I mean, they did that even when the bill was proposed by their own party.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater says:

        Ya know, part of the issue I’m having in this little subthread is that we all seem to be forgetting how violently Dem voters and liberals in general opposed the bill that was finally passed. Pretty much no one liked it, except for the political pragmatists who moderated the general anger a bit by patiently pointing out some of the goodies the bill contained.Report

      • Avatar Troublesome Frog says:

        I’m not sure how eventually (not quickly enough?) falling back to your opponent’s negotiating position after failing to get what you want is bad or hypocritical. Falling away from your own negotiating position to condemn it as insane and evil could probably be construed as at least hypocritical.

        Am I missing something?Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        The whole premise is relies is that the GOP would actually sincerely desire to enact HC reform along Heritage Plan lines which would require them to be willing

        Right, but nobody is really talking about this because nobody is contesting (or bothering to contest) the notion that Republicans are past-and-present insincere about comprehensive health care reform.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        That’s awesome, Zic. I had seen that as well in my searches but never made it all the way down to the updates because I thought it spent all of its time in the late oughts (and later) without discussing any of the discussion that took place in the 90’s.

        Well… there was a little bit of the discussion that took place in the 90’s… but, as you say, it’s from before we had an archive of EVERYTHING. So it’s like a black hole.

        How did we argue before the internet?Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        JB, damned if I know. I must have had something clouding my memory of the days before Real Argument™ achieved archive.Report

      • Avatar Troublesome Frog says:

        I have this argument with people who don’t have smartphones.

        Them: How can you spend a bunch of money for Internet on your cell phone?
        Me: How could you not spend a few dollars a month to have the collective knowledge of mankind available in your hand whenever you need it?

        The main argument I can think of against it is that it tethers you to the office.Report

  11. Avatar Burt Likko says:

    I think this question is answered at least two nights a week on Comedy Central during the opening monologue to The Daily Show. Granted, I think it’s pretty funny every time I watch it and every once in a while, maybe one show out of twelve, the same gimlet eye gets turned on the other side of the spectrum and it is just as funny then.

    So to me, watching the Daily Show‘s opening monologue is sort of like listening to Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours — I’ve heard it before, many times, I know it by heart, but I do still like it.Report

    • Avatar zic says:


      This may be the first time I’ve regretted canceling the cable TV subscription. Thankfully, there’s the internet, so I can go let John Stewart and staff provide the real answers.

      Thank you, Burt.Report

  12. Avatar zic says:

    Wow. I just discovered the Heritage Foundation’s wikipedia page does not include a reference to their health care proposal, Assuring Affordable Health Care for all Americans (the link goes to the heritage website.) Despite it being a major portion of GHWB’s re-election effort.Report