Monday, January 24, 2011

it always comes back to the ignorant or lying debate

as matthew yglesias notes ross douthat proposes that rather than pushing for an outright repeal of the affordable care act, republicans in congress should push for incremental constructive improvements to the law, like deregulating the health care exchanges. but lets face it, there's no chance that the GOP will do that. not because they don't want to, but because republican members of congress don't seem to know enough about the health care law to come up with such constructive changes.

one year ago, when i was stuck in kazakhstan and struggling to follow the health care debate from afar, my spotty access did allow me to read occasional wonky articles about the various mechanics of reform. i would also sometimes read the critiques from the other side. one thing really stood out, the other side wasn't addressing much that was actually in the health care bill. they were talking about government takeover of the health care system (as if the ACA would institute something like the NHS), or about how the government would tell you what doctor to see, et cetera. some of these things were in op-eds by members of congress. people debating the actual bill in congress seemed to not have an even passing familiarity with what that bill said. even with limited communication from halfway around the world i had a better idea of what was in the bill than they did. i guess they could have been trying to mislead people by misrepresenting the proposal. but after a while, i really got the impression that is what they thought the reform effort was all about. how else can you explain the GOP's pledge to american proposing to repeal "obamacare" and replace it with a bunch of health care reforms that are in obamacare?

the major flaw with douthat's proposal is that congressional GOP is not capable of proposing constructive amendments to the ACA. i bet quite a lot of them don't know what "the exchange" is, never mind coming up with a practical way to deregulate it.