Gov. Bobby Jindal (who was widely regarded as a GOP whiz kid before he appeared to be too much of a kid while responding to the president’s address to Congress back in February) is the latest to suggest it’s time to rip up the Democrats’ grandiose plan(s) for a government takeover of health care. After taking an unwarranted swipe at his fellow Republicans for lacking health-care ideas (is he truly unaware of Rep. Paul Ryan’s efforts? or the plans of Rep. Tom Price and Sen. Jim DeMint?), he sets out 10 good ideas, including voluntary purchasing pools, portability, tort reform, tax-free health-care spending accounts, and refundable tax credits. (And yes, many if not all his proposals are in the Ryan, Price, and DeMint proposals.)
But aside from the one-upsmanship among Republicans (“No one else has ideas but me!”), one is struck by how simple and inexpensive many of these ideas would be to implement. Yes, some of Jindal’s items duplicate the Democrats’ platitudes — leaving open how much they would cost and how government is to go about making it all come true (e.g., electronic record-keeping). But there is plenty to work with if the idea is to improve the existing system by addressing some significant and valid complaints (about portability and pre-existing exclusions, for example). If the Democrats’ rococo legislative artistry melts down, there is much that can be done that would likely garner large bipartisan majorities and that might also provide the president with some badly needed face-saving.
We aren’t going to get there, of course, as long as gigantic schemes keep swirling about Congress and Obama insists we have to fix the system once and for all. When liberals like Juan Williams complain that critics of ObamaCare are defenders of the status quo and simply don’t get that “Americans want something done in terms of improving the condition and the ability to get health insurance at a reasonable rate in this country,” they have it exactly wrong. Spending endless time and energy on bills without significant public support (in part because they require massive taxes in a recession) is, in fact, doing nothing — at least nothing productive — to increase access to health care at a reasonable rate.
It’s only once the unworkable and unpopular monstrous health-care plans finally go by the wayside that we can get to the list of doable items that Jindal (and Price, DeMint, Ryan, and others) have assembled. But for now, Democrats remain convinced that there’s one grand health-care bill to be passed. So nothing much gets done.