The Corner

John Goodman Knows Wehbycare Won’t Work

John Goodman, until recently the president of the National Center for Policy Analysis*, has a post at Forbes attempting to defend Dr. Monica Wehby’s proposed “fixes” to Obamacare from my charge that her plan won’t work. In the process, though, it becomes clear that what he’s really saying is that Wehby’s plan would need substantial changes to work — which is to say, he agrees with me that as presented it won’t. (The Wehby campaign nonetheless promoted Goodman’s article on her twitter account.)

Goodman also misunderstands one of my points. He says that I’m criticizing Wehby for trying to “fix” rather than “replace” Obamacare, and then attacks this position because replacing Obamacare would mean “tossing” 15 million “people out on the street to manage on their own.” This is misleading. A replacement plan could include provisions to make sure that these people are able to afford health insurance. Whether a particular plan is described as “replacing” or “fixing” Obamacare is a rhetorical choice. My point was that Wehby is mistaken if she believes that calling her plan a “fix” will insulate her from liberal criticism.

Which brings me to one last peculiarity of Goodman’s post. When I made that point, Wehby’s campaign manager indignantly insisted that she was so trying to replace Obamacare. So here’s where Wehby has stood on replace vs. fix, in chronological order: On the campaign website it outlined a plan of “fixes” with no mention of replacement; the campaign manager then said that Wehby was for replacement; and now the campaign is approvingly tweeting an article that commends her for not wanting a replacement. The tweet itself describes her plan as “reforming Obamacare.” All clear?

* I called NCPA half an hour or so ago, and was told that its board had unanimously voted to dismiss Goodman because of “serious” misconduct. The NCPA spokesman did, however, kindly give me his cell-phone number, and if he returns the call to give his side of the story I’ll post it. This move was recent enough that both Wikipedia and Forbes still list him as the group’s president.

Update: Goodman called me back. “I’m afraid the NCPA is engaged in serious misconduct. But we are engaged in a legal struggle at the moment. . . .Pete duPont and I are leaving the NCPA. We’re going somewhere else.” Asked what the dispute was about, he said, “There was a fight on the board, we had board members threatening to sue each other, board members threatening to sue me, it’s been a whirlwind. These things happen.”​

Update 2: After talking to his lawyer, Goodman called back again to say, first, that the organization is now being run by a board that does not know how think tanks work and, second, that the underlying dispute involves illegal activities by NCPA “which I don’t want to get into right now.” So it sounds like the lawyers will be busy.

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

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