02 May 2013

Just (And Only) Say No ... For Now

No one can beat Ross Douthat for pulling back the curtain on the obstinacy that characterizes much of what goes on among certain right-wing ideologues. Read here for his latest. I've previously addressed the hypocrisy of contemporary Republican corporate welfarism here. Douthat observes that House Republican refusal to allocate what amounts to a $3.6 billion Health and Human Services slush fund to address underfunding of high risk health insurance pools is a non-vote for ideology, not reality. Not only did the House Republican forgo an opportunity to limit the discretion of one of their least favorite federal agencies, they turned their back on the only conservative and non-statist option to address health care needs of poor Americans. In other words, they effectively voted (or didn't vote) to remedy ramifications of the employer health insurance mandate, that which they've been railing against for years.

Douthat explains what was on the table in clear prose so I won't repeat it. Suffice it to say that what motivated the rejection of Eric Cantor's proposal was either a failure of comprehension or conviction. Refusal to recognize that the federal government already subsidizes health care through the Internal Revenue Code exemplifies the former; pretending that there is a market solution without high-risk subsidies discloses the latter.

Some ideological purists may argue that it was not a failure at all but a principled acknowledgment that the purpose of the civil state is to protect life, liberty, and pursuit of property and nothing more. Libertarian ideology, like any ideology, fails the test of empirical reality. (Check here, here, and here for some earlier anti-ideology remarks.) Even more to the point, ideology fails the test of political reality.

Consider the following future history. Republicans beat back "Hillarycare" in 1993 only to succumb to Obamacare in 2010. I predict that Obamacare will collapse by 2016, at least those parts designed to provide health insurance for the working poor through their employers. What then? Without the sort of subsidized private insurance coverage that the House refused to take up, American will move to some form of a single-payer system by 2026. "Be careful what you wish for" is worth remembering.

Of course, it's entirely possible that a Republican-controlled House will vote to fund the very high risk subsidies they currently refuse to consider if there is a Republican in the White House. Hypocrisy is never far from electoral politics.

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