Skip to comments.Philip Klein: CPAC is emblematic of why conservatives lost health care debate
Posted on 02/28/2013 7:25:20 AM PST by SeekAndFind
If you want to understand why proponents of limited government keep losing the health care debate, look no further than this year's upcoming Conservative Political Action Conference.
Over the past several years, as the debate over President Obama's national health care law was raging, the largest annual gathering of conservatives held regular panel discussions on the topic. Not this year. Laura Rigas, a spokeswoman for the American Conservative Union (which runs CPAC), confirmed to me that although "health care and the associated budget-busting costs at the federal and state level will be addressed in a number of panels," there would be no panel dedicated exclusively to the health care issue.
"Obamacare was obviously huge over the past couple of years, but Obamacare is done," Rigas explained.
Done. It's precisely this attitude -- by no means exclusive to CPAC -- that has crippled the advancement of conservative health care solutions for decades.
The biggest conservative policy victories, such as the advancement of supply-side economics in the 1980s and welfare reform in the 1990s, came when conservative intellectuals and activists rallied around ideas at times when liberals didn't have compelling answers to important problems. But conservative activists often disregard health care as a liberal issue -- unlike taxes and guns -- and only become engaged when liberals attempt to advance big government solutions.
In 1993 and 1994, for instance, when the Clintons were pushing their national health care plan, the conservative movement rose up to successfully defeat it. But then, instead of taking advantage of the intervening 15 years to advance market-based solutions to health care, conservative activists largely ignored the issue.
A few scholars such as Sally Pipes, John Goodman, Grace-Marie Turner, David Hogberg and Greg Scandlen were consistently writing about how to foster the creation of a consumer-based medical system. But health care just didn't generate any passion at the grassroots level until Obama began his health care push. CPAC is not responsible for this reality, but the issues the conference chooses to focus on are certainly a reflection of the pulse of the conservative movement.
Though it's a struggle to come up with silver linings from the passage of the health care law, it seemed that, at least for a while, conservatives were becoming more engaged on the health care issue. But in hindsight, the interest in health care policy on the Right is looking more like a fad built around opposition to Obamacare.
In February 2009, at the outset of the Obama administration, the conference held a panel titled "Health Care: The Train Wreck Ahead." In February 2010, as Democrats were pushing toward final passage of health care legislation, the conference featured a panel named "Saving Freedom From ObamaCare: It Isn't Over Yet." The following year, with the law having passed, that season's CPAC health care panel was titled "Repealing Obamacare: In the States, In Courts, and In Congress." Last year, as the law made its way to the Supreme Court, the conference titled the health care panel "Obamacare: Why It's Unconstitutional and What Conservatives Need to Do."
Now that Obamacare has survived a Supreme Court challenge and the 2012 election, it's looking as if conservative activists are reverting back to their typical hibernation on the health care issue.
This is a big mistake. At some point in the future, liberals will be looking to build on Obamacare. Whenever conservatives point out problems with the law, liberals will counter that the problem is that the law left too much of the health care system in the hands of private insurers. Incrementally, liberals will seek to move the nation toward a true government-run, single-payer system.
And if conservatives spend the intervening years between now and then tuning out the health care issue, the liberals just may achieve their long-term goal.
-- Philip Klein (email@example.com) is a senior editorial writer for The Washington Examiner
The real push back will come from the poor who will be forced to pay for health care. They were assuming it was going to be free and no one had bothered to tell them differently.
While there are many good points in Klein’s article, the premise that we lost the health care debate is absolutely incorrect. We simply had no power to stop it. The Democrats has super majorities. We won literally every election in the country when health care and Obamacare was the primary issue. This started with Scott Brown in Massaschusetts.
2012 was not about Obamacare. The Democrats made the election successfully around a variety of single issue ideas and ‘fairness’ that some other people need to pay more taxes.
We won the Obamacare debate on ideas...and have maintained a significant edge in public opinion consistently for more three years running.
To Klein’s point, the Republicans really screwed up in the mid 2000s by not pushing forward with health care reforms when WE had the votes to do so.
If the bill wa so popular, why were a majority of the people against it to te point that Obama had to bribe and extort politician support and votes for it to pass?
Mr. Klein is forgetting that.
2) Health-care was pushed through by graft and extortion, e.g. “corn-huskers kickback!”
3) where in the hell was conservative principles displayed or argued during the health care debate?
They didn’t lose the debate. They lost the entire Congress briefly, due to the idiot Bush, and the Dems took advantage of their short term control.
“The real push back will come from the poor who will be forced to pay for health care. They were assuming it was going to be free and no one had bothered to tell them differently.”
Bet they’ll “subsidized”.
The conservatives didn’t lose the debate on nobamacare. When it passed it was because the dem/libs had control of Congress and POTUS. GOP nor anyone else had any power to stop or even amend the Bill that was passed by demonrats.
Although the dems were stupid enough to leave a lot of loose ends inside the Bill, they were smart enough to make it tough to recind by a later GOP majority.
As said prior, by the time 2016 election rolls around, everyone, except maybe holder’s people, will so damn fed up with anything the dems push, it will be a landslide away from anything dem, unless they are as lucky as FDR was to have a major war come along to save the economy and his butt.
Well, many people believe that the federal government should have no role in the health care industry. Where in the Constitution is there any delegation of power to control health care?
Medicare, Obamacare and Medicaid are unconstitutional and should be scrapped. Despite the fear campaign, if those three programs were to be scrapped tomorrow, most people would be unaffected and those that would be affected would soon figure out another way to get health care.
Not immediately. That’s the fly in the ointment.
uhhh....except that Conservatives NEVER LOST the healthcare debate. Obama and Harry Reid had to resort to bribery, tricks and skullduggery to cram an unpopular piece of legislation up our mmmmmm.....mmmmmm.....mmmmmmmms.
Even today a clear majority still opposes it.
Klein is absolutely correct on this point. We are afraid of being labeled "activists" OR we are cowed into retreat (see: Bush's social security reforms post-2004 election) by the left.
We ought to keep pushing--hard--for repeal and reform. Reform doesn't mean big government solutions.
Thanks, Klein, for your insights.
Soon the healthcare debate will change and people will be screaming just like Donan Brazelle - "why are my premiums gfoing up??" Then will they throw out the RATS...maybe. But not if the conservative message is the same one as at CPAC...we don't have one. (that's the point of the article) BTW that was Mitt Romney's message too. He never had a hard solution to any problem just "trust me."
The Center will not hold.