October 20, 2011

THE ONE SIN NEITHER SIDE CAN EVER FORGIVE PRESIDENT OBAMA...:

ObamaCare's Heritage: The think tank, the individual mandate and the trouble with Romney. (JAMES TARANTO, 10/19/11, WSJ)

Heritage did put forward the idea of an individual mandate, though it predated HillaryCare by several years. We know this because we were there: In 1988-90, we were employed at Heritage as a public relations associate (a junior writer and editor), and we wrote at least one press release for a publication touting Heritage's plan for comprehensive legislation to provide universal "quality, affordable health care."

As a junior publicist, we weren't being paid for our personal opinions. But we are now, so you will be the first to know that when we worked at Heritage, we hated the Heritage plan, especially the individual mandate. "Universal health care" was neither already established nor inevitable, and we thought the foundation had made a serious philosophical and strategic error in accepting rather than disputing the left-liberal notion that the provision of "quality, affordable health care" to everyone was a proper role of government. As to the mandate, we remember reading about it and thinking: "I thought we were supposed to be for freedom."

The plan was introduced in a 1989 book, "A National Health System for America" by Stuart Butler and Edmund Haislmaier. We seem to have mislaid our copy, and we couldn't find it online, but we did track down a 1990 Backgrounder and a 1991 lecture by Butler that outline the plan. One of its two major planks, the equalization of tax treatment for individually purchased and employer-provided health insurance, seemed sensible and unobjectionable, at least in principle.

But the other was the mandate, described as a "Health Care Social Contract" and fleshed out in the lecture:

We would include a mandate in our proposal--not a mandate on employers, but a mandate on heads of households--to obtain at least a basic package of health insurance for themselves and their families. That would have to include, by federal law, a catastrophic provision in the form of a stop loss for a family's total health outlays. It would have to include all members of the family, and it might also include certain very specific services, such as preventive care, well baby visits, and other items.

The Heritage mandate, at least in theory, would have been less burdensome than the ObamaCare one. You'd have to be covered against catastrophically costly conditions but could choose to buy additional insurance or pay out of pocket for everyday medical needs. On the other hand, Butler's vague language--"it might also include certain very specific services . . . and other items"--would seem to leave the door wide open for limitless expansion.

Whatever the particular differences, the Heritage mandate was indistinguishable in principle from the ObamaCare one.


...is that he has governed as a Republican.

Posted by at October 20, 2011 9:44 PM
  

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