Defending another R.P.

by Ramesh Ponnuru

Jeffrey Anderson faults RNC chairman Reince Priebus for not offering a sufficient alternative to Obamacare.

Priebus listed six discrete policy proposals. But the combination of those proposals wouldn’t give every American “access to quality, affordable health care.” Instead, they would leave open a political hole big enough to drive a liberal truck — or an entire fleet of Toyota Priuses — through it. All that an Obamacare supporter would have to do is ask this question: Under the Republicans’ proposal, what would happen to someone who was made eligible for Medicaid because of Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion, or someone who gets the most lavish taxpayer-funded Obamacare subsidies because he or she has an income that’s just above the Medicaid line? Under Priebus’s proposals, the answer would be: They’d get very little or nothing — an answer that almost certainly won’t lead to full repeal.

I don’t think that’s quite right. Priebus’s fifth proposal was to restructure the tax code’s treatment of health insurance to make it friendlier to the development of a free market in health coverage. Done the right way, I think that would, in combination with some of the other proposals on Priebus’s list, let at least as many Americans get covered as Obamacare. Priebus is not specific about how the tax code could be changed, and I’d recommend that he take a look at how Anderson’s 2017 Project handles the issue in its proposal. But I suppose Priebus can’t really make a public endorsement of that approach until more Republican lawmakers get on board. Which they should do.