One of the difficulties in sorting through the points and counterpoints on health care reform is that that many of the critics use sweeping statements to characterize the new law, saying that it is "government-run" health care or "socialized medicine." Proponents of the law then find themselves essentially responding "no it's not. . ." or trying to defend government at a time when confidence in it is at an historic low.
An op-ed today in the Washington Post by Norman Ornstein, a resident scholar at the conservative- and Republican-leaning American Enterprise Institute, argues that if one actually looks at the specific elements of the new health reform law, "ObamaCare" is in line with ideas long-championed by Republicans:
"To one outside the partisan and ideological wars, charges of radicalism, socialism, retreat and surrender are, frankly, bizarre. The Democrats' health-reform plan includes no public option and relies on managed competition through exchanges set up much like those for federal employees. The individual mandate in the plan sprang from a Heritage Foundation idea that was endorsed years ago by a range of conservatives and provided the backbone of the Massachusetts plan that was crafted and, until recently, heartily defended by Mitt Romney. It would be fair to describe the new act as Romneycare crossed with the managed-competition bill proposed in 1994 by Republican Sens. John Chafee, David Durenberger, Charles Grassley and Bob Dole -- in other words, as a moderate Republican plan. Among its supporters is Durenberger, no one's idea of a radical socialist."
(Ornstein has a broader point to make about how Obama's policies have been labeled, but I'm not going there.)
I wish we could get the point where the debate on health care is about what is actually in the legislation, instead of rehashing broad characterizations that are intended to invoke an emotional response of support or opposition, instead informed debate about what the legislation does and does not do.
Today's question: What do you think of Ornstein's argument?