Political Animal


February 05, 2013 10:33 AM Invisible People

By Ed Kilgore

Conservatives are supposed to be pretty good at “cost-benefit analysis.” But you will notice that in any discussion of health care policy lately, many of them just can’t bring themselves to even notice that the initiatives they oppose (notably Obamacare with its Medicaid expansion, health care exchanges, and regulatory mandates) do actually provide health coverage to people in exchange for the money and the “liberty” surrendered. It’s also becoming hard to ignore the fact that Republicans at every level of government have pretty much stopped bothering to offer their own proposals to boost health care coverage—again making a problem they used to talk about as much as did Democrats a non-issue.

Consider the editorial denunciation the Wall Street Journal handed out to Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer last night (a pale echo, I am sure, of the anathemas they will soon hand to Ohio Gov. John Kasich) for going along with the Obamacare Medicaid expansion. It rants and raves about how Brewer came up with and justified her conclusion that the expansion wouldn’t cost the taxpayers of Arizona much of anything (other than their priceless heritage of freedom, of course!). But the only reference to beneficiaries of the policy is a complaint that Arizona’s existing Medicaid program is too generous (you know, to those people). You’d never known that by the state’s estimates 57,000 people currently without health insurance will secure coverage.

I really think every time conservatives attack a coverage expansion they should face a moral obligation to trot out one of the threadbare prescriptions of their own for dealing with the problem, whether it’s a high-risk pool or a Medicaid privatization scheme, or just come right out and admit they don’t give a damn about the uninsured. As it is, the uninsured have again become invisible people in a significant part of the national policy debate.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • Silversalty on February 05, 2013 10:55 AM:

    Conservatives are supposed to be pretty good at "cost-benefit analysis."

    Oy! Bullshit in a post saturated with BS. Consider if "conservatives" actually applied their 'concern' about teacher effectiveness to the American military - dare I say the American soldier, sailor, airperson and Marine. America hasn't won a war since WWII. OK there was Grenada (Reagan's attempt to cover up the cut-n-run from Lebanon) and Panama (Bush I's piss off at an old buddy.) But really, who would consider those, actual wars? Wesley Clark while half heartedly campaigning for the presidential nomination said he wouldn't want to go up against the American soldier. Why not? Just about everyone who does, wins. Iraq? Afghanistan. Box-cutter soldiers? As I told Steve Earle one day, our "voluntary" army is much more accurately described as "mercenary." And losing never seems to cost them any income. Kinda like Wall Street.

    The other aspect of BS is coming from EK, directly. Cost concerns? How about a "public option?" Single payer? - Obama was never gonna let that happen. Costs, to the public in general, are never a consideration, to Republicans or Democrats.

  • ex-curm on February 05, 2013 11:00 AM:

    You need to at least address the conservative argument that everyone needs to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and figure out how to pay for their own healthcare (no matter how ridiculous that may seem) and that governmental regulation is making health care too expensive (as wrong as that argument is)

  • Gandalf on February 05, 2013 11:39 AM:

    Silversalty I'm no apologist for American adventurism but I think the least one can do is make some half-assed attempt to get their facts straight. Just what exactly is your definition of winning a war. Total domination and slavery of the opponent. We won in Serbia. We didn't really lose in Vietnam or Korea and any objective assesment of Iraq and Afghanistan would hardly lead to a conclusion of loss.

  • hornblower on February 05, 2013 11:41 AM:

    In reality they don't care, but they have to convince themselves that they have a higher moral purpose.

  • c u n d gulag on February 05, 2013 12:11 PM:

    Well, DUH!

    Of course the Republicans don't have a plan.

    President Obama and the Democrats swiped it, and got it passed, despite the Republicans in Congress.

  • Lauren Marinaro on February 05, 2013 12:34 PM:

    As to the substance of the WSJ article mentioned herein, the smackdown can be found here:


  • lou on February 05, 2013 1:00 PM:

    Having a plan would imply that they are for government actually doing something good vs. their main course of government = shit sandwich for the makers and filet mignon for the takers.

  • PTate in MN on February 05, 2013 5:09 PM:

    Uninsured and unemployed people are invisible to the conservatives. Not just invisible, despised.

    I keep puzzling how the party that claims to defend God and the American way became so contemptuous of virtues like patience, compassion, generosity and empathy?