Obamacare

How the GOP Learns to Stop Worrying and Love a Democratic Program

It didn't begin with Obamacare Lite.

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Miller

So the House Republicans' replacement for Obamacare is Obamacare Lite. If it passes, we'll keep the same basic subsidy-and-penalty insurance framework we have with the Affordable Care Act. If it doesn't pass—and there's a good chance it won't—we may well end up keeping the Affordable Care Act, full stop. Or perhaps we'll get a different bill that rearranges the system, maybe makes it stingier, but doesn't challenge its basic approach. What we probably won't get is something radically different.

This often happens when Democrats enact a big expansion of the social-welfare state. Republicans protest noisily, but when a Republican becomes president the party makes its peace with it. Dwight Eisenhower conserved the New Deal, and in fact built on it. (Among other things, he expanded Social Security coverage, launched some big infrastructure projects, and birthed the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare.) Barry Goldwater called the results a "dime-store New Deal"—programs for a president who was less ambitious than Harry Truman but didn't want to challenge the post-Roosevelt order. But Eisenhower was president and Goldwater wasn't.

Similarly, Richard Nixon ratified the core elements of the Great Society. Yes, he pared back some of it. He accelerated the process, already underway before he took office, of clearing out its semi-radical side—all those activists who took that "maximum feasible participation" talk seriously. But Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, the expanded federal role in education: Nixon kept those in place, and so did Ronald Reagan. Call it the Great Society Lite, or maybe the Pretty Good Society.

Republicans have spent nearly a decade denouncing Obamacare, first as a concept and then as a law. But they've denounced a lot of things over the years. As of now, Phil Klein writes, the Democrats "have won the central philosophical argument, and Republicans are reduced to fighting over the mechanics." He's talking about health care, but you can apply his words to more than that.

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NEXT: Now That He's Found It, Rand Paul Really Doesn't Like GOP's Obamacare Repeal Bill

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  1. The problem is folks like free stuff and are largely swayed by emotional appeals. Anyone who tries to cut back will meet a swath of angry folks and journos talking about how evil you are

    1. A slow death.

    2. People like getting free stuff – they don’t like paying for free stuff that somebody else is getting.

      The one’s getting the free stuff get all the media attention about how wonderful that is while completely ignoring the corresponding detriment to those who are being forced to pay for it.

      I have seen news stories (as well as political ads) about how some particular individual with a pre-existing condition benefited from Obamacare and how terrible it would be for him or her to be deprived of that.

      Nowhere to be found in the mainstream media are the stories about all the folks who liked their insurance but could not keep it and instead had to pay outrageously increased insurance premiums for far less health insurance coverage value than they had before Obamacare.

      1. Bastiat wasn’t writing an instruction manual

  2. the Democrats “have won the central philosophical argument, and Republicans are reduced to fighting over the mechanics.”

    Yup. And this is why, when people like Ken say that we should be happy that the individual mandate is going to be repealed – yes, that is good, but ultimately the forces of smaller government have lost the war. It’s hard to be cheerful for some small victory in the midst of a yuuuuge defeat.

    1. You have to consider the govt isnt getting out of healthcare though. Unfortunately

      At this point take what you can get

    2. But Trump said he was going to get rid of Obamacare, not make it 5% less bad.

      1. And he said repeal and replace it….repeatedly. Trump isnt a fiscal hawk…he is a moderate dem

        1. Note the replace and he said certain aspects would remain. Also he doesnt write the actual legislation

        2. He also said he was going to make sure everyone had great healthcare (or something along those lines). There was never any reason to expect radical reforms of healthcare policy led by Trump. I had slight hopes that a Republican congress would do more than what the current proposal involves.

          1. Vote for me and all your dreams will come true.

            /Pedro

            1. Don’t let your dreams be memes!

          2. Yep. The parts that are costly are the most popular and will be hard to get rid of since it is free stuff

    3. when people like Ken say

      How are we going to have libertarian moment if people like Ken just give up and stop commenting?

  3. Reagan figured this shit out 35 years ago. Once a govt program is passed, no matter how shitty and no matter how much it fails at its intended purpose, you can’t get rid of it. Look at the ADA, which has failed in its stated goal, or Obamacare.

    People can’t think critically. It’s all about the feelz

    1. If the Republicans meant what they said, they could get rid of it now. They do control the legislature. It might end up being unpopular and losing them elections, but they could do it. And elections are almost 2 years away, so now is the time.

      1. My problem is the dems go with singlepayer then

      2. If politicians meant what they said, they could get rid of a lot of government garbage.

        I’m starting to think that some of them are lying to us.

      3. If the Republicans meant what they said, they could get rid of it now. They do control the legislature. It might end up being unpopular and losing them elections, but they could do it. And elections are almost 2 years away, so now is the time.

        All of this has happened before…

        I mean, this is how the Republicans operate on everything. Their supporters say, “Oh, we have to vote in Republicans because they’re the only ones who can do X!” Then when they control the government and not only fail to do X, but do the opposite of X, they say, “Oh, they can’t do X because X might be unpopular and then Farmer Jones the Democrats will come back, and we can’t have that!”

        It bears repeating that attaining and expanding power is the only thing that motivates any of them. All else is window dressing.

    2. I think Reagan also figured out that to pour money into the warfare state, you have to give the Democrats their welfare state.

    3. The ADA has failed in a way that would be funny if it wasn’t so tragic. It actually did exactly the opposite of what it was supposed to, but hey, a few unemployed disabled people is a small price to pay for, um…

  4. What happens if they let Democrats block meaningful reform, and then it just collapses under its own weight?

    Can this work like the sequester?

    1. The sequester doesn’t work. They just vote around it.

    2. The same thing that always happens. D or R. Throw more money at it.

  5. Sadly, the Democrats always win the argument in the end.

    Its never whether or not ‘free shit’ should be given – its always *how much* free shit should be given.

    They’ve framed the debate in the terms most favorable to themselves and so, even as the Democrats destroy themselves, their memes live on in a new host.

  6. “How the GOP learned to stop worrying and love a Democratic Program.”

    \Dr. StrangeDoctor

  7. If pigs could vote, the man with the slop bucket would be elected swineherd every time, no matter how much slaughtering he did on the side.

    ~ Orson Scott Card

  8. And remember the Republican appointee Roberts cast the deciding vote that eviscerated that damn good constitutional argument against the law. Complete and utter defeat for the liberty argument.

  9. There’s no Reason story yet on this morning’s Wikileaks “Vault 7” dump of info on the reach of CIA hacking tools? It’s a huge story. Write something already.

    1. Maybe they are trying to write something good.

      1. I hope so. The NYT piece misrepresents the nature of the security risk to mobile devices, as does the Reuters story, and the WaPo article is just a little perfunctory stub.

      2. “Maybe they are trying to write something good.”

        Oh you naive dreamer.

  10. The potential difference between Obamacare and the other entitlements is that Obamacare might just destroy the entire individual insurance market, which would make all of its tax credits, insurance protections, etc. useless.

  11. Similarly, Richard Nixon ratified the core elements of the Great Society. Yes, he pared back some of it.

    Richard Nixon…paring back government? If anything, Nix tossed extra cherries like OSHA, DEA, and EPA on the Great Society shit sundae, with price controls and money printing as a bonus. And of all the self-identified Maoists in early 1970’s USA, Nix was only one who actually had straight-up real Mao on speed dial.

    If one wants to measure how “conservative” a President’s tenure was as political outcome instead of by actual politician, nobody post-WWII was truly more conservative than Bill Clinton: Books balanced. Banks unchained. Emerging internet revolution…left alone. Cracked-out Negro hordes locked away. Ex-Commies, darkies, and those dirty camel people respectively bombed on each of their continents. And some harassing womynz-workplace sexy-time on the side.

    Not liberty-ish at all, but very red state all the way for Slickster.

    1. Richard Nixon…paring back government?

      Saying that Nixon excised parts of the Great Society is not the same as saying the government shrank under Nixon.

  12. “Richard Nixon ratified the core elements of the Great Society. Yes, he pared back some of it. ”

    The budget for food stamps under Nixon absolutely sky-rocketed from a few billion yearly to almost a hundred billion. And the number of participants in the programme also increased dramatically. Richard Nixon was a Republican, America’s last Liberal president. He didn’t pare back social spending, he accelerated it greatly. Get your facts straight.

    How is Obamacare ‘social welfare?’ The health insurance is provided by private insurance companies, the same ones whose lobbyists wrote the legislation in the first place.

    1. He didn’t pare back social spending, he accelerated it greatly. Get your facts straight.

      I didn’t say he pared back social spending. Get your facts straight.

      How is Obamacare ‘social welfare?’ The health insurance is provided by private insurance companies

      The subsidies aren’t.

      1. “I didn’t say he pared back social spending. ”

        Then what are you talking about? The fact remains that social spending under Nixon increased by an astonishing amount. There’s nothing ‘lite’ about Nixon’s efforts.

        “The subsidies aren’t.”

        But public money subsidizing insurance providers is corporate welfare.

        1. Most of the aca new coverage were under expanded medicaid which is a govt program

          it is subsidizing individuals not the insurance providers

          1. Also mtrueman if medicaid has low reimbursements the providers make it up in coverage of other areas by charging more which means higher premiums and deductibles for others

        2. The public money subsidizing insurance plans is a subsidy for the individual as they ultimately use the healthcare. Insurance companies are just middle men…they have high plan costs due to costs of actual healthcare

          Calling those subsidies corporate welfare seems dishonest since the individual are receiving them due to their own situation

          1. “Calling those subsidies corporate welfare seems dishonest since the individual are receiving them due to their own situation”

            How do you feel about the honesty of 1000s of pages of legislation which channels large amounts of public funds to corporate coffers?

            ” Insurance companies are just middle men…”

            Their lobbyists wrote the legislation. Put aside what you feel at the moment. Do you honestly think they don’t see themselves as the ultimate beneficiaries? If not, why not?

        3. “I didn’t say he pared back social spending.”

          Then what are you talking about?

          Read the next sentence of the post.

          1. I read it several times.

            “Yes, he pared back some of it. He accelerated the process, already underway before he took office, of clearing out its semi-radical side?all those activists who took that “maximum feasible participation” talk seriously. ”

            Yeah, he also had it in for the Black Panthers. It’s not relevant though.

            “But Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, the expanded federal role in education: Nixon kept those in place, ”

            He did much more than keep them in place, he expanded funding tremendously. He also created whole new agencies out of thin air, like the EPA. Nixon was no parer backer.

            1. If “pared back some of the Great Society” meant “made government smaller overall,” you would have a point.

              1. If “pared back some of the Great Society” means persecuting a handful of black radicals, why bother mention it? It’s a given. Remember John Edgar Hoover? And it’s small potatoes, unless you’re a black radical potato. If you’re intent on portray Nixon as the Great Society Parer Downer, why not speak of his rescinding the draft? A vast government sink hole closed at the stroke of a Nixonian pen.

                1. If “pared back some of the Great Society” means persecuting a handful of black radicals, why bother mention it? It’s a given. Remember John Edgar Hoover?

                  I was referring to the people who latched onto the Office of Economic Opportunity’s requirement for “maximum feasible participation” by the poor themselves in the government’s Community Action Programs. They hoped to build local forms of counterpower, and thus gave that (ultimately marginal) portion of the Great Society a semi-radical edge. I think there was some FBI surveillance of some of these groups, but that’s not what I’m talking about; I’m talking about the above-board efforts, which preceded Nixon but were intensified under him, to steer away from that approach to the War on Poverty.

                  Some of this entailed eliminating small sections of the federal bureaucracy?the Model Cities Program did get snuffed out under Nixon?but it was ultimately closer in spirit to an ideological purge than a reduction in bureaucracy.

                  If you’re intent on portray Nixon as the Great Society Parer Downer, why not speak of his rescinding the draft?

                  Because the draft was not part of the Great Society.

                  1. “Because the draft was not part of the Great Society.”

                    You had me fooled there. For a while I thought the article was about Republicans continuing (or not continuing) Democrat programmes, like the war in Vietnam or Obamacare, or the Great Society.

    2. Let’s see – when I applied for health insurance on the exchange, I was offered a $700/mo subsidy. I got to keep whatever I didn’t spend on health insurance.

      Where do you think that money would have come from?

      1. “Where do you think that money would have come from?”

        We both know where it’s coming from, hence the ‘welfare.’ The insurance providers are the ultimate beneficiaries, hence the ‘corporate.’

        1. The individuals are because they are the ones getting discounted plans and prices and ultimately use said healthcare

          You cant double count subsidies

          You are dishonest

          1. “You are dishonest”

            Never claimed to be otherwise. Sorry if that offends you.

            The individuals are just a conduit, a channel. The money eventually ends up in corporate coffers.

            That’s why I call it corporate welfare. Social welfare is like in Canada or UK where the health insurance business is socialized.

  13. This often happens when Democrats enact a big expansion of the social-welfare state. Republicans protest noisily, but when a Republican becomes president the party makes its peace with it.

    I’m beginning to think maybe the New Deals and the Great Societies of our national policy should be stopped before they make it to practice.

    1. There is odd coincidence between Democrats owning big legislature majorities and the Presidency concurrently with various New Great Society Dealcares making it to practice.

  14. Nice alt-text, you sneaky bastard.

    1. I mean that in the most tasteful (and less filling) way, of course.

  15. Please let me know when America’s Republicans decide to get back to their roots and reject socialized medicine entitlements like Medicare. I think this will be at about the same time they reject socialized corn subsidies.

    1. Yep,
      At this point Dems and Repubs are arguing over what color lipstick looks best on a pig.

    2. Because a lot of the persuadeable voters who do not like the look of things like the ACA simultaneously believe that Medicare is something they paid for already and that they are owed a payoff. Pissing off those voters by forcing them to face the truth about what MediCare really is is the difference between having the ability to do something and having no ability to do anything.

      I do not like it anymore than you do, but yhat is the electoral problem we face.

      1. “Pissing off those voters by forcing them to face the truth about what MediCare really is ”

        As somebody once said you are not going to get somebody who has a vested interest in not understanding something to understand it.

        People like to believe that they not getting any “welfare” with Medicare when they actually are. The FICA taxes people pay as well as the Medicare Part B premiums don’t cover the costs of the benefits they get. And of course higher income people are charged higher Part B premiums so that is welfare for those who are not charged them.

        The same thing goes for social security. Try explaining to someone how the social security benefit formula is internally redistributive in that higher income people get a lower benefit relative to the taxes they paid in than is the case for lower income people and that people who have more than a certain amount of other income in retirement get part of the social security benefit taken away from the through the back door by making up to 85% of it taxable. He or she will get indignant at the thought somebody else is providing them a handout when that is exactly the substance of what is going on in a lot of cases. And that doesn’t even touch on the overarching fact that no one is getting his own money back because it was already paid out to someone else.

        1. What about those who don’t get indignant, but say, “Hey, yeah, I’m making out like a bandit & want to keep it that way.”?

  16. A kinder, gentler corporatism…

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