Healthcare and the general election

We are one year out from the 2020 US presidential election. (So now would be a good time to visit Alpha Centauri, in advance of all that.) 

Writing in New York Magazine, Jonathan Chait reveals how the Democratic Party is determined to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory:  

Almost two-thirds of the people who supported Trump in 2016, and then a Democrat in the 2018 midterms, plan to vote for Trump again in 2020.


Perhaps some of that movement represents a desire by voters to check Trump’s power and restore divided government. But the poll contains substantial evidence that Trump’s party lost the midterms for the hoary yet true reason that Republicans took unpopular positions, especially on health care, and ceded the center. Rather than learn the lesson, Democrats instead appear intent on ceding it right back to them.

Jonathan Chait, NYMag

This is shaping up like 1988 all over again. In 1988 the Democrats ran a leftwing ideologue (Michael Dukakis) and got creamed in the general election.

The Democrats have genuine opportunities to make a centrist appeal in 2020. But the Democratic Party of 2019 isn’t much interested in the sensible center.

Take healthcare, for example…

Many Americans (myself included) fault the GOP for failing to do anything—after three years in power— to make health care more affordable. (The GOP too often takes the position that until a problem affects a substantial number of millionaires, it isn’t really a problem.) 

In my county in Ohio, there are two insurance providers in the private, individual healthcare plan market. There should be a dozen—given that everyone needs health insurance. 

Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, the two leading candidates of the Democratic Party, have both proposed a government takeover of private health insurance.

This is Soviet-style central planning. The “Medicare for all” proposal amounts to little more than a redux of policies that were tried unsuccessfully throughout the twentieth century, in various places. 

Our healthcare system sucks today. It will really suck if we turn it over to the federal government. 

So what do we need?

What we need is something akin to the federal government’s breakup of the Bell System in the early 1980s. 

Prior to 1982, there was a widespread recognition that a market failure had occurred in the long distance telephone service market. The government responded by restructuring the market to make it more competitive. 

The government didn’t try to take over phone service. Very important!

Our health insurance ills could be fixed by either a Democrat or a Republican with a knowledge of economics. But the Republicans aren’t practicing economics nowadays, and the Democrats don’t seem to grasp the basics of that dismal science.