Friday, May 6, 2011

Catch of the Day

Brian Beutler over at TPM just takes Jim DeMint to pieces on the question of just where he stood on Mitt Romney's health care plan four years ago.  Excellent job, and great catch.

What this brings to mind, at least for me, is the question of whether Republicans really were serious about passing a national health care reform bill -- for example, had Romney won in 2008, and had GOP majorities in both Houses of Congress, would Romneycare have passed? I've never really thought so, but there's really no way to know for sure. This brings back the debate between Ezra Klein and Nate Silver over whether Barack Obama is really a 1990s Republican (and see more here). I've always believe that Romney's health care plan, or the GOP alternatives to Bill Clinton in 1993-1994, or Richard Nixon's proposal from twenty years before that, were either not serious or, perhaps, presented only when Republicans perceived that the alternative was worse. In other words, without the threat of Democrats passing something else, Republicans would not act on health care; they just aren't as interested in the subject.

So I don't really think that (on health care at least) Republicans have moved to the right; I think they've adopted new tactics, along with a change in the partisan situation. And I don't think that Mitt Romney and a GOP Congress would have passed a universal health care plan. But I'll certainly admit that my conclusions are speculative, nothing more.


  1. Of all the examples that Ezra Klein cited in his column, I would argue the Affordable Care Act really should be counted as a Republican-inspired initiative, because it was serious enough for a Republican to actually sign it into law. You can question the motives or note that it's Massachusetts, but it's still a real program.

    Still, what was driving Ezra Klein's column was all the accusations that Obama "went hard left." Nobody should be letting any GOP spokesperson get away with saying that.

  2. But no one forced Romney to support health-care reform along the subsidize/regulate/mandate model. No one forced McCain or Pawlenty to endorse cap-and-trade. They did these things for political reasons; i.e., they didn't want to be attacked for being "anti-reform." And they recognized a general elite consensus that some reform needed to happen. (For a different type of approach, see Pelosi, circa 2005, vis-a-vis Social Security reform.)

    Because they adopted these policy positions for political reasons, they should not be shielded from the political ramifications of those positions by saying something like "oh, I didn't really mean it, I wouldn't have enacted it if I was in charge."

    That is to say, if a politician advocates liberal policy X in year 1, then advocates conservative policy Y in year 5, that politician is most definitely moving to the right, no matter what "tactics" or "partisan situation" happens to prevail at the time.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

Who links to my website?