The Corner

Politics & Policy

Mailbag

1. In response to yesterday’s post about what Republicans should do about health care now: “15 million people leaving health insurance ‘voluntarily’ is not something to celebrate. What it means for the vast majority of them is that they don’t have good options.”

As I said in that post, I strongly suspect that the CBO’s estimate that 15 million people would drop insurance if not threatened with fines for doing it vastly overstates the power of those fines. Just ending the fines is not my ideal policy: I’d also like the government to cut regulations that raise the price of insurance and thus make it less attractive. But yes, I do think it is preferable that people be allowed to go without insurance than be fined into buying insurance they don’t want.

2. In response to my Bloomberg column about neuroscience and free speech on campus: “You just know they’re just getting revved up to say that Trump stresses people out and it’s LITERALLY VIOLENCE.”

3. Another response: “Oh man. My children have a lot to answer for. Can I have a safe space from them?”

4. A response to my article on why Republicans in power are accomplishing so little:

The reason “Republicans can’t get anything done” is that a lot of Republicans are uninterested in anything but complete philosophical purity. They’d rather go hungry than eat half a loaf. It’s gotten way worse since the tea party started primarying anyone willing to actually legislate.

This emailer was not alone in making this argument. It seems to me both exaggerated and incomplete.

First, a lot of people on the right edge of the party were willing to compromise. Members of the House Freedom Caucus were willing to live with tax credits to help people buy health insurance even though that wasn’t their ideal approach; and a lot of them switched from no to yes on the House version of the bill after winning a policy concession. And while I don’t agree with Senator Mike Lee about the Senate bill — I thought it took enough positive steps to be worth supporting — I don’t think his opposition was premised on getting everything he wants.

Second, the tea-party explanation doesn’t account for the party moderates who said they were against Obamacare but never explained (or appear to have thought through) what they wanted in its place and pulled up short as soon as they were asked to legislate about the matter. It’s a mistake, in other words, to see the party’s problems legislating as mainly the fault of one particular faction or another.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.