Krugman is channeling Monty Python in a particularly silly column up on healthcare today.
His basic claim (echoing Steve Benen) is that the inter-progressive arguments on the healthcare bill have been pretty interesting, while the conservatives haven’t really made any meaningful arguments against it (which kind of makes you wonder why it’s in such danger of not passing, doesn’t it).
I’ve been scanning both sides of the issue for a while, and on one hand, I want to kind of agree with him. The arguments among liberals about how government should increase its footprint in healthcare are more interesting than the arguments by conservatives about why it shouldn’t.
But that’s kind of like why arguments among fans of Bay Area power-pop bands are much more interesting – to other power-pop fans – than listening to someone rail that “Greg Kihn was just crap!” It’s just not very interesting – as above – when you go from argument to disagreement.
And the Republicans are constrained here by three things – first the political Kabuki in which a vote against healthcare is going to be positioned as a vote for putting poor Aunt Molly to death. Reformers (who, by definition, claim to want to extend all possible healthcare to all possible people) are waiting, primed, for some poor redneck Senator to explain that we just won’t spend money on X, whereupon the very real suffers of X will be paraded in Senator Leghorn’s home state as evidence of his or her hardheartedness. Next is the fact that they, too, get a lot of cash from pharma and the payors and really don’t want to be pissing on their own petunias here. Finally, Krugman does have a real point – the GOP hasn’t had a strong ideological core in domestic policy for a long, long time.
Republicans haven’t had a great track record in meaningfully (as opposed to theatrically) arguing for more limited government for a while – that’s because they’re in hock to the rent-seeking class just as deeply as the Democrats – they just have a different set of political investors.
But I’ve got to believe that way back in their hindbrains, they kind of reflexively believe – something. There was something that made them choose to be Republicans back at the beginning of their careers.
Oh, wait. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said something that seemed kind of smart to me:
“I’m very troubled that the Senate bill does not empower consumers more,” Ms. Collins said. “If they’re given information and financial incentives, they’ll make good decisions.”
Oh, yeah. A good argument, made by an opponent of the bill. Gosh.
And his backhand linking opposition to the bill to support of the war in Iraq – well, there’s only one meaningful reply – what if those of us who supported the war were right? History will ultimately make that decision, not Keith Olbermann.