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New Health Care Law, Individual Mandate: The conservative way to reform health care.

My fellow progressives: the next time you are in an argument with someone over the new health care reform law and your opponent starts pontificating about a “government takeover” complete with the scary and supposedly unconstitutional “individual mandate,” remind them of this. Our health reform law is a deeply conservative, uniquely American way of delivering health care for everyone. In fact, when none other than the well-known uber-conservative think tank the Heritage Foundation laid out the elements of their preferred national health reform plan way back in 1990, author Stuart Butler basically described this year’s health reform law that finally passed Congress:

The second central element in the Heritage proposal is a two-way commitment between government and citizen. Under this social contract, the federal government would agree to make it financially possible, through refundable tax benefits or in some cases by providing access to public-sector health programs, for every American family to purchase at least a basic package of medical care, including catastrophic insurance. In return, government would require by law every head of household to acquire at least a basic health plan for his or her family. Thus there would be mandated coverage under the Heritage proposal, but the mandate would apply to the family head, who is the appropriate person to shoulder the primary responsibility for the family’s health needs, rather than employers, who are not.

— Stuart M. Butler, “Using Tax Credits to Create an Affordable Health System“; The Heritage Foundation; July 20, 1990.

Let’s see how Heritage’s proposal stacks up against what actually passed in the 2010 Affordable Health Care Act. Refundable tax credits to help individuals purchase insurance? Check. Expansion of some public-sector health programs for people who are really poor? Check. Basic package of health insurance defined, while individuals free to buy more comprehensive coverage? Check. Individuals and families required to have coverage before they get sick – i.e. an individual mandate? Check. Employers not required to provide employee coverage? Check. Looks to me like conservatives and the Heritage Foundation got all they wanted in this year’s health bill. At the very least, how can a plan that looks very much like many conservatives have been asking for over so many years be described by GOPers in such apocalyptic terms?

It’s sort of strategy makes sense if your only purpose in life is to deny the other party the ability to govern the country until you can try and win the next election. However, for those interested in the compromises necessary for effectively governing a democracy, these sorts of scorched-earth arguments are simply an indicator of how radical modern conservatism has become.

7 Comments


  1. […] Read the original: The Progressive Pulse – New Health Care Law, Individual Mandate … […]

  2. New Era Hat

    December 21, 2010 at 9:19 pm

    Thank for sharing

  3. Jeff

    December 22, 2010 at 8:05 am

    The Heritage is just another collectivist group. They, like you neo-progressives are truly neo-conservatives. You all want to concerve, preserve, and maintain the status of the state over the individual. The paleoprogressive or the true liberal in the classical sense would strive to see progress away from statist control over the lives of the individual. Maybe it is the nature of man to dominate his fellow man, maybe it is our nature to twist the meaning of so many words in order to have compliance, maybe it is the nature of nature to stomp out the free radicals.
    “I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than to those
    attending too small a degree of it.” Thomas Jefferson, Classical Liberal.

  4. Adam Searing

    December 22, 2010 at 10:55 am

    Jeff – after Christmas I’ll be posting all the other GOPers who have made versions of this plan their health care argument for years. First up, Bob Dole.

  5. Jeff

    December 22, 2010 at 10:45 pm

    That will be just fine Adam, hopefully you can weed out all the RINO’s and neoCon’s. But don’t just focus on the dead ones or mostly dead ones…. save some room for the Graham’s and McCain’s. That way we can get the GOP back to its true Jeffersonian roots.

  6. Lou Meyers

    December 23, 2010 at 9:45 am

    …. save some room for the Graham’s and McCain’s. That way we can get the GOP back to its true Jeffersonian root

    So in 1800, the GOP was full of senile loud mouthed cranks that enjoyed their government provided healthcare while depriving their lowly taxpaying constituents of affordable healthcare? Really, that is how it was?

  7. Lorne Marr

    December 25, 2010 at 7:41 am

    The desire to govern the country and cherish certain privileges makes it difficult for some politicians to grasp the importance of reaching compromises and that’s why there will hardly be any of them when the new Senate comes to power.

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