In the battle of ideas, what things are called matters (e.g., the ‘death tax’ instead of the estate tax). So I’m utterly puzzled as to why Paul Krugman is calling the current state of play in healthcare centrist:
The fact is that the Senate bill is a centrist document, which moderate Republicans should find entirely acceptable. In fact, it’s very similar to the plan Mitt Romney introduced in Massachusetts just a few years ago.
This is not a centrist bill. After one considers everything that those left-of-center bargained away, it’s hard to see how this bill could be any farther to the right (italics mine):
George Bush could have proposed the Senate health bill. If he had, those Republicans who now loathe the measure would be at the barricades defending it. And those Democrats who backed Obama-care for the past year would have been hoisting their pitchforks and demanding its demise….
The changes: Insurance companies would have to offer coverage to all, regardless of pre-existing conditions; everyone would have to obtain basic coverage or pay a penalty; exchanges would enhance the individual insurance market; the government would subsidize premiums for those who cannot afford them, including both individuals and small businesses; and Congress would take some small steps to slow the growth of health costs.
None of these ideas are new and most used to sit comfortably in the GOP mainstream. The Senate bill mimics the framework of the 2006 Massachusetts health reform, an idea that was pushed by Republican then-Governor Mitt Romney and, as we know by now, was supported by new Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown. This is what Romney said about the bill after it passed: “Every uninsured citizen in Massachusetts will soon have affordable health insurance and the costs of health care will be reduced.” Sound familiar?
…And the Massachusetts plan was not just Romney’s idea. Staffers at the conservative Heritage Foundation provided extensive technical guidance, and the broad outlines (if not all the details) were widely praised by the right–at least until the 2008 presidential campaign, when Romney denied parentage of his own reform bill.
The fucking Heritage Foundation is not centrist. Not even close.
Look, the leftist solution is socialized medicine (the British solution). The liberal solution is single payer. The centrist solution is Medicare-for-all or a strong public option–the ability to buy into a government-run health insurance plan. This is a conservative plan–and if MA is any guide, it’s not affordable.
But this isn’t just about the correct political taxonomy. Centrist should have a meaning that implies that a broad swathe of the country supports something. Despite months of a one-sided propaganda
campaign massacre, Medicare-for-all/public option still has majority support. It is the center.
‘Progressives’ need to stop calling conservative programs centrist, when they’re not. It’s not helping, it’s hurting.