Well, Stealers Wheel’s lyrics often come to mind when surveying the political scene. The first two lines of the chorus are often apropos but the we have never before felt like the last two lines apply to us. In case you forgot:
Clowns to the left of me
Jokers to the right
Here I am
Stuck in the middle with you
What has got us in a tizzy is Kevin Drum at Mother Jones is reminding us that National Health Care Is Free. It is silly but we have read it so you don’t have to. What is worrisome is the jokers on the right. Paul Mirengoff at PowerLine reports that:
At the recent National Conservatism Conference in Washington, the crowd voted overwhelmingly in favor of a resolution calling for the United States to adopt an “industrial policy.” In so doing, the conservative crowd agreed with Sen. Elizabeth Warren who, as John [Hinderaker at PowerLine] has noted, also wants the U.S. to adopt such a policy.
The idea is for the government, through a set of policies — taxes, spending subsidies, regulation, and tariffs — to protect factory jobs against the forces of globalization and technological change.
Paul links to James Pethokoukis at AEI for an evaluation. The headline is “GOP’s Stupid Swoon For Big Government.” We are entirely on board on “Stupid” but this was the National Conservatism Conference rather than just Marco Rubio. As the link shows, serious people were there.
As we are trying to deal with the level of disagreement on the right, we come across this from Rosie Gray in Buzz Feed News:
It’s an odd feature of American politics today that while the Republican party as an institution has never been more unified, the right has never been more ideologically fluid. Intellectual subgroups have had their moments in the sun: neoconservatives, libertarians. But they, and the Reaganites who have decided conservative dogma since the 1980s, have all diminished as Donald Trump has occupied all of the available breathing room on the right.
We can help Rosie with her confusion. The GOP is as fractious as ever. Just like the Democrat party. The right has always had intellectual subgroups. Each candidate brings a number of those subgroups together. The Donald created a new one: NeverTrump.
Oh, back to Kevin and our concerns on the left. Kevin is trying to convince us that national health care is free and he says:
You see, the vast bulk of health care spending goes to providers. This means that the only way to reduce spending is to pay doctors less, pay nurses less, pay drug companies less, and pay device manufacturers less. This will not happen, and anyone who’s serious about national health care would be insane to try. Why put up an enormous barrier to success, after all? [Emphasis added]
We agree with Kevin on the part we have put in bold. The only problem is that the part above it is a description of national health care. It is certain
Sidebar: We often envy writers for their certainty about a variety of things. The outcome of very few events is certain. End Sidebar.
that national healthcare will pay doctors less, nurses less, drug companies less, and manufacturers less. As a small example from the left, there is the Obamacare tax (#10) on medical devices. The Donald, like many politicians, is upset with drug prices.
Then Kevin explains how it is free:
The one thing we probably could do is get rid of insurance companies, which would save a bit of money—probably about enough to make up for the cost of adding the remaining uninsured to the system. So in the end it comes out even after all.
We did not make that up. Kevin is saying that moving administration largely from the insurance companies to the government is going to save us money. Not just a few dollars but enough to add all of the uninsured into insured. What do you think the probability that the government is more efficient that private enterprise? To be fair, given the government regulations in health care, the chance is very close to but not exactly zero.
The clowns and jokers seem to be more numerous than ever. Did MWG really end up in the middle? How many adjectives or prefix will there need to be to make MWG a conservative? Are you with us? We have received but not read the other Kevin’s new book. Perhaps reading that we relieve our funk. We hope to get around to explaining why George Will’s new book is great but we still feel lonely.