I agree with most of what Ross Douthat has to say in this post, except for his conclusion: “Between the defeat of Clintoncare and the election of Barack Obama, the Republicans had plenty of chances to take ownership of the health care issue and pass a significant reform along more free-market, cost-effective lines. They didn’t. The system deteriorated on their watch instead. And now they’re suffering the consequences.”
Let’s not forget that at no point during that period did the Republicans have anything like the Democrats’ current strength in Washington. Through Bush’s first term they had at most 51 senators. They had 55 starting in 2005, but everything went south for them politically within months. And even when they had Congress and the White House they were unable to break Democratic filibusters on free-market health-care measures as modest as the small business health fairness act. Yes, Republicans should have paid more attention to health care over the years. But the collapse of Lehman Brothers did more to get Democrats to this point than any strategic mistake of the GOP on health care.