Re: A Fantasy-Based Case for Obamacare

by Veronique de Rugy

If you haven’t already done it, I recommend that you read the piece by AEI’s Jim Capretta in response to the NYT op-ed piece by his colleague J.  D. Kleinke, “The Conservative Case for Obamacare.” You should also read the excellent post about the same piece by Cato Institute’s Michael Cannon, “ObamaCare Is Pro-Market Like the Berlin Wall Was Pro-Migrant.”

That the Kleinke piece reads like talking points from 2009 is strange but it shows, as Capretta explains, how little he “understands Obamacare or the conservative case against it.” I will only add the following two points:

First, Kleinke seems to think the fact that the original idea behind the bill originated within the conservative movement or that Obamacare is “nearly identical in design to the legislation Mr. Romney passed in Massachusetts while governor” makes it a conservative bill. It doesn’t. Unfortunately, over the years conservatives have supported many bills that are everything but conservative or free-market oriented. In this particular case, the pretense of market competition doesn’t make it pro-free market or mean that there’s actual competition.

Second, Kleinke seems to believe that the health-insurance industry’s support of Obamacare is evidence that it is a pro-market and pro-consumer bill.  That’s nonsense. As the excellent work of Tim Carney at the Washington Examiner and the work of my colleague at the Mercatus Center Matt Mitchell demonstrate, business people are more than happy to get special favors from the government at the expenses of consumers. This bill is a great example of the cronyism that many of us have been denouncing for years. It is packed with provisions that favor the health-care industry at the expense of consumers. For instance, could it be that the industry’s support for the bill stems from the fact that the individual mandate gives insurance companies a captive audience whose profits will more than compensate for per-existing condition and other such mandates?

By the way, you know what would have been really good for consumers? Breaking up the insurers’ cartel. If you care about consumers and affordability, let insurance companies compete against one another and across state lines.

I will leave the conclusion to Michael Cannon:

Kleinke has done insightful work. This oped is just nutty, and emblematic of the lack of intellectual rigor among the Church of Universal Coverage members residing in both left-wing and right-wing think tanks.

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