Sunday, April 01, 2012

the GOP lined up behind an individual mandate just this week

for the second time in about a year, almost every republican member of the house voted in favor of the ryan plan for medicare. as susie points out, the plan effectively contains an individual mandate to purchase insurance (albeit only for people 65 or older). in fact, ezra klein notes that the ryan plan's mandate is stronger than the one in the affordable care act:
Interestingly, Ryan’s plan imposes, if anything, a harsher penalty on those who don’t purchase health insurance. Ryan’s tax credit is far larger than the individual mandate’s penalty, and much easier to enforce. Under Ryan’s plan, if you don’t purchase insurance, you don’t get the credit. End of story. Conversely, the Affordable Care Act doesn’t include an actual enforcement mechanism for the individual mandate. If you refuse to pay it, the IRS can’t throw you in jail, dock your wages or really do anything at all.
so if republican doctrine says that obamacare's individual mandate is not just unconstitutional, but akin to socialism, then why did just about every republican in the house just vote for one? because the republican party doesn't pay any attention to policy. the reason obamacare is evil is because of the word "obama" in their nickname for the law. the rest all comes after-the-fact. it's as simple as that. just try having a coherent health policy discussion with a republican true believer. they can't do it. i've tried a bunch of times and all it does is devolve into sloganeering.

luckily, the press will point out this blatant example of object hypocrisy, where the entire party establishment just voted for something that is just like their biggest current bogeyman, right? no, that won't happen either. because for the most part reporters don't report on policy either. we just spent much of the last week with wall-to-wall coverage about the individual mandate. and yet there was very little mention of what the purpose of the mandate is. in my experience, quite a lot of people have no idea, even people with very strong feelings about the law.

this is the logical consequence of horse race-style political reporting. it's all about polls, zingers and gaffes, and not about policy. people say the electorate is getting dumber and dumber. but in fact, many are conspiring to keep people ignorant. it doesn't have to be that way.

UPDATE (4/4/2012): i think i'm taking this post back. check out the comments to see why i am reconsidering.