Lanhee Chen is a research fellow at the Hoover Institute. And he had some advice for his fellow Republicans this morning, On Republican Priorities, Obama May Have a Point. That title makes Chen sound far more reasonable than he is. He starts by claiming that Obama has “lost almost all credibility” defending Obamacare. But he says that Obama may have a point when he says that the Republicans have not offered up what they are planning to replace it with. (Note to Mr. Chen: nothing.) He says that Republicans should debunk this claim, adding, “Now it’s time to coherently articulate a vision for what should replace the fundamentally flawed health-care law.”
Let’s stop right there. This is a conservative line that drives me nuts. It’s true: Obamacare is fundamentally flawed. And why is it fundamentally flawed? Because conservative fucktards like Lanhee Chen claimed that they were all for this “free market” approach to healthcare reform. But of course, the moment that the Democrats compromised and gave them their totally fucked up insurance company giveaway, the Republicans jumped back as though a cobra had just been dropped at their feet. Their great answer to healthcare reform was now, “Socialism!” Give me a fucking break!
But Chen is just getting started. He tells us, “Republicans aren’t lacking for ideas about what to replace Obamacare with.” According to him, conservative think tanks are overflowing with great proposals. Before getting to them, let’s just be clear. If the Democrats repealed Obamacare and tried to pass any of these “plans,” the Republicans would again turn on a dime and complain that the new plans were straight from the anus of Satan.
First he says there are real divides among the Republicans about how to provide healthcare to the tens of millions who don’t currently have it. But really there aren’t. He says that some conservatives “reject the very notion that expanding access to health insurance is a priority.” This is all tactical because none of them want to do anything. There are those who come right out and say that they don’t want to do anything. Then there are those who say they really do want to do something, but somehow whatever proposal is offered just isn’t quite right. Bottom line: they are against reforming the healthcare system because the people they care about are already served and they don’t care about the others.
He also notes that a big sticking point is cost. Oh yes, cost is always a big issue for Republicans. At least it is when they aren’t in the White House. And it is when the money might go to poor people. But when it will go to corporations or farmers or just rich individuals, the spigot is always on.
When he gets to all the great ideas that conservatives have regarding healthcare reform, he mentions only two important ones. The first one is an oldie that would make the current system worse: allow people to buy insurance across state lines! What this would do is allow young, healthy people in (say) California, which has laws requiring a certain level of coverage from insurance companies, to buy insurance from Mississippi, which has no such laws. This would make the insurance risk pool much more expensive in California. So this would lower health insurance costs on exactly the people who don’t need help while it increased costs on the people who do. It’s the perfect conservative policy. Brilliant!
The second one is also an oldie: tort reform! Prevent people who have been harmed from suing. Republicans love this because they always want to screw the poor and benefit the rich. Estimates are that lawsuits increase the cost of healthcare by—Wait for it!—upwards of 1%. That’s right! The second big policy idea of the Republicans would at most decrease costs by 1%. But what it would do is make the rich even richer. Again: the perfect conservative policy!
You may have noticed that the Republicans always find a way to propose the same ideas that they like for other reasons for every problem that comes around. Healthcare unaffordable? Tort reform! City smog getting you down? Tort reform! Can’t afford college. Reform the fucking tort system!
Chen also mentions “changing the existing tax treatment of health care.” That should be done but it is not going to make a big difference. He also thinks there should be more transparency in medical billing. Again: okay, but hardly an earth shattering idea. The thing to note about all of this is that even under the best of circumstances, all of these ideas combined would not even begin to accomplish what Obamacare already has. So Obama’s original criticism that Chen claims could be easily counted has gone unanswered by him or any other conservative I’ve ever heard from. (Note: all of Chen’s “great ideas” are the same garbage we always hear from conservatives.)
Lanhee Chen is involved in the great conservative cause: providing reasonable sounding excuses for why the Republican Party is totally useless. As with the Republican establishment, Republican intellectuals are primarily interested in providing political cover. I can see why someone like Josh Barro is so hated in the Republican Party. He actually has policy ideas. People like Lanhee Chen offer nothing but apologia for the cause. The modern conservative movement is rotten to its very core.