GOP’s Best Bet on Health Care: Stick With the Slogans

April 25, 2011
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On today’s New York Times Op-Ed page (A Slogan, Not a Plan) conservatives Ramesh Ponnuru and Yuval Levin assert:

Republicans have an effective slogan for their health care agenda: “repeal and replace.” The problem is, they can agree only on the first half; agreeing on what to put in place of last year’s health care law is the hard part. Even Representative Paul Ryan’s bold budget proposal avoids the issue.

On today’s New York Times Op-Ed page (A Slogan, Not a Plan) conservatives Ramesh Ponnuru and Yuval Levin assert:

Republicans have an effective slogan for their health care agenda: “repeal and replace.” The problem is, they can agree only on the first half; agreeing on what to put in place of last year’s health care law is the hard part. Even Representative Paul Ryan’s bold budget proposal avoids the issue.

Republicans can’t keep ducking through the 2012 elections. Fortunately, there’s a solution hidden in plain sight: a tax credit for health insurance.

Jonathan Cohn and Yglesias both do a good job of picking apart the logic of the approach. Cohn characterizes the plan as a weaker, slower version of John McCain’s ineffectual, expensive 2008 presidential platform. Yglesias highlights specific problems related to adverse selection. I have several additional critiques I could offer, but why bother? Only wonks are reading our posts and I don’t expect many readers to change their mind on the subject.

I disagree with the op-ed authors’ contention that “Republicans can’t keep ducking.” In fact if Republicans wrestle seriously with health care reform they’re going to struggle to come to consensus and at best will agree on a plan that will displease a lot of people, including many of their most fervent supporters. The current GOP approach of attacking every real and imagined facet of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act has a lot more to recommend it politically, and therefore I expect to see it continue.

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