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Brian Beutler on the Intellectual and Moral Collapse of the Republican Party...

We are unlikely to ever get a health-care system with rational financing until everybody's care is paid for by some mechanism--rather than being paid for under the heading of somebody else's insurance via cost shifting. We are unlikely to have a society we can be proud of until everyone can get easy access to preventive, acute, and chronic medical care. For both intellectual and moral reasons a health care system that does not provide universal coverage is likely to be a lousy one.

The Republican Party agreed with this up until mid 2009. Now it doesn't.

Brian Beutler watches the train wreck:

How The Health Care Repeal Push Marks The End Of The Universal Health Care Consensus: Here's one case for the individual mandate in the health care law boiled down to two sentences -- both fairly elegant considering they were spoken extemporaneously.

There isn't anything wrong with it, except some people look at it as an infringement upon individual freedom. But when it comes to states requiring it for automobile insurance, the principle then ought to lie the same way for health insurance, because everybody has some health insurance costs, and if you aren't insured, there's no free lunch. Somebody else is paying for it." -- June 14, 2009....

[T]he individual mandate actually marries two distinctly American priorities -- an obsession with private markets, and the core belief that nobody should go without health care.

Considering just how cacophonous the health care debate has become, it might surprise you to learn that the mystery reformer quoted above is Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), the Republicans' health care point man in the Senate who, during the same interview, with great authority, claimed "I believe that there is a bipartisan consensus to have individual mandates."

Two months later he threw in his lot with Sarah Palin (R-AK) and the Death Panelers. Now he claims -- along with about half the attorneys general in the country -- that the individual mandate is unconstitutional and, like the rest of the GOP, uses it as the foundation for a far-reaching political assault on the health care law....

Grassley's violent lurch to the right wasn't idiosyncratic. It was the consequence of a deliberate Republican political strategy.... What was once a popular, if not consensus, policy framework on the right -- authored by personal-responsibility conservatives and popularized by John Chafee, Bob Dole, and Mitt Romney -- rapidly became kryptonite for Republican politicians. As a result, for the first time in more than a half century, there is one political party in the country that has zero high-profile advocates for a forgotten goal: that somehow, some way, every citizen deserves proper health care.

And yet they can't quite bring themselves to say that....

Now that Republicans control the House of Representatives, their fusillade against the health care law has actual legislative ammunition. But the question of what they'd replace it with is still open. "We'll let the committees do their work on how we should replace this, and what the common sense reforms will be. They'll have hearings. It'll be a bipartisan process," said House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH). We'll see what they come back with."

What they came up with last time around -- their alternative to the Affordable Care Act -- was a grab bag of industry-friendly and anti-federalist ideas: malpractice reform, allowing people to buy insurance across state lines. The outcome, according to congressional actuaries, would be roughly no decrease in the number of uninsured people, when you adjust for population growth. "By 2019, CBO and JCT estimate, the number of nonelderly people without health insurance would be reduced by about 3 million relative to current law, leaving about 52 million nonelderly residents uninsured. The share of legal nonelderly residents with insurance coverage in 2019 would be about 83 percent, roughly in line with the current share"...

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