Saturday, February 27, 2010

Why do we let the Republicans get away with it?

One of the major planks in the Republican health care "plan" is to allow companies to sell insurance "across state lines." Of course that's a terrible idea. As Paul Krugman points out.
The states with the weakest regulations — for example, those that allow insurance companies to deny coverage to victims of domestic violence — would set the standards for the nation as a whole. The result would be to afflict the afflicted, to make the lives of Americans with pre-existing conditions even harder.
But amazingly even Krugman, who devoted the column from which the preceding is extracted to pointing out how dishonest the Republicans are, lets them get away with it on this point.

Why is the proposal to sell health insurance across state lines dishonest and hypocritical? Let me count the ways.

Insurance companies can sell insurance across state lines now. There is no law in any state that says that if a company sells insurance in another state it is not allowed to sell insurance in that state. Such a law would surely be struck down by the courts. If you are a company that sells insurance in New York, California will not stop you from selling insurance in California. To pretend that's not so is simply dishonest.

So what do the Republicans have in mind, if anything. Well they don't like the idea that states want to pass laws about insurance sold in their state. They pass laws about other things that happen in their state, why not about insurance? Republicans apparently would make it impossible for states to do that. Presumably the Republican plan is that if something is legal in one state, then it should be legal in all.

But of course Republicans don't really believe that. If they did, it would be legal to sell medical marijuana in all states since it is legal in California. But it isn't, and I don't hear any Republicans arguing that it should be.

And I certainly don't hear Republicans arguing that since gay marriage is legal in some states it should be legal in all. So the Republicans are not making a principled argument about selling insurance across state lines. They are simply demagoguing.

Furthermore, who would enforce the ban against states making laws about insurance sold in their own state? The only authority that could enforce such a ban would be the Federal government. So are Republicans really arguing for more Federal power? That's a new one. Of course it's not new, and we shouldn't take any of this seriously. Republicans are simply hypocritical and dishonest. What bugs me is that we let them get away with it.

As I said, though, Krugman often makes an attempt to call the Republicans on their dishonesty. The column from which I quoted was devoted to that for the most part. Krugman ended it as follows.
So what did we learn from the [health care] summit? What I took away was the arrogance that the success of things like the death-panel smear has obviously engendered in Republican politicians. At this point they obviously believe that they can blandly make utterly misleading assertions, saying things that can be easily refuted, and pay no price. And they may well be right.
And unfortunately he may well be right.

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