December 22, 2013

On this Sunday's Meet the Press, David Brooks decided to double-down on the stupidity we heard from him this Friday on PBS, but thankfully we had E.J. Dionne there for some push back this time instead of the hapless Mark Shields who just let him prattle on instead.

Brooks was back at it, claiming that the Democrats are going to allow the insurance mandates somehow be the undoing of the healthcare law, and that citizens are going to be rebelling because they don't like that big evil "gubmit" out there telling them what to do.

As Dionne reminded Brooks, the Affordable Care Act is not a "big government program," it's private insurance, and the government is perfectly capable of delivering healthcare in the United States and does so every day in the form of Medicare and Medicaid -- and the Democrats are not going to turn tail and run from the ACA just because there are mandates included as part of the law.

MR. BROOKS: Listen, there are two issues here. There’s first the competency issue of getting the website. That’s by far the least important issue. The most important issue is the mandate issue. Basically, when you have any big government program, you build the system and you say to people, you have to work within the system and sometimes we’re going to limit your choice. We’re going to mandate things. But the American people do not like mandates any more. We’re a much more individualistic culture. And every moment when the administration has been faced with either mandating something or surrendering on this bill, they’ve surrendered every single time. They weakened each individual mandate all the way along. So you have to expect they’re going to weaken and surrender on the mandate down the line, because they just don’t have the...

GREGORY: And then it can’t work, E.J.…

(Cross talk)

MR. DIONNE: Look, I think there is something crazy when people say where government can’t deliver health care. Ever heard of Medicare? Ever heard of Medicaid? And there’s a mandate to pay taxes for those things? This thing is complicated because President Obama chose to go for a model that is a market-oriented model that Republicans favor, of helping people buy private health insurance. That proves to be very complicated. But what you’re seeing already is there is an enormous appetite among all the Americans who don’t have health insurance to buy it. And that’s what’s going to save Obamacare. This is filling a real need in the society. And you’ve got to say, they sure lowered expectations for Obamacare.

GREGORY: But if-- yeah.

MR. BROOKS: But I’d say society is not the same as it was in the 1930s and the 1960s. There’s less faith in government, it’s much more consumerist…

MR. DIONNE: But they don’t want to get rid of Medicare.

(Cross talk)

MR. BROOKS: But so if you can’t force people into the system and people rebel against the enforcement, then you really do have a problem.

GREGORY: But this also goes to-- homage to David Brooks here-- Edmund Burke, who didn’t believe-- he believed in smaller government, because he didn’t have tremendous confidence in government’s ability to deliver something like this. And to his point, they keep backing off of some of the things they say that have to be in there.

MS. NAVARRO: Yes. And I mean I-- I don’t know how you can be so optimistic about it working better next year when all we see are so many delays. You just went through a list of them. I’ve lost track of the delays and exemptions that they’ve now granted. And I think one of the bigger problems, and actually longstanding problems, is that it has eroded the trust that the American people have of this administration and this president. And trust is a lot easier to establish than it is to recover once you’ve lost it. And that’s something they’re going to have to work on.

MR. DIONNE: Every rich democracy in the world uses government to deliver healthcare. You had Christine Lagarde on. France spends less per capita in government spending to cover everybody than we spend for just Medicare and Medicaid. So this thing can work. It needs fixes. And I think the next move by the president is to tell Republicans, do you want to fix this or do you just want to get rid of it?

MR. GIBBS: But-- and know this. That even s-- if all of these predictions are true and we’re at sort of the low point of Obamacare, we still don’t have a majority in polling the belief we ought to repeal it.


MR. GIBBS: They believe we ought to repair it, because as E.J. said, there is tremendous demand for particularly the uninsured or those with preexisting conditions that have always been told no by insurance companies. There is tremendous demand for it. I do think David is right, but we also-- one quibble with them is, I think the technical aspect of the website is crucially important; because quite frankly, it is the intake valve for everything in healthcare right now. Getting that and continuing to get that right is a huge, huge thing for this administration.

MS. NAVARRO: But you agree that-- that fixing the website is easier than fixing the policy? The policy is-- you know, is-- is the crux of the matter. And you’ve got problems that are going to continue to happen as the corporate mandate goes in. You know, we’re going to start seeing people…

MR. GIBBS: Well, whether…

MS. NAVARRO: …losing their insurance, and there’s going to be…

MR. GIBBS: Whether the corporate…

MS. NAVARRO: …a lot of angry people.

GREGORY: Isn’t the crux of the matter that people don’t like government telling them, this is what is best for you, as a business, this is how you have to operate? So in our quest to do good-- again, this is the argument-- it’s too coercive.

MR. BROOKS: Yeah, that’s-- I mean, the French system and the European systems, they tell you you’re too old for that operation, sorry. Or you’re not going to get that operation, not going to see that doctor, you’re going to have to wait a long time. There’s a lot…

MR. DIONNE: That, we just tell that to people by not giving them insurance

MR. BROOKS: Well, that’s true.


GREGORY: But we…

MR. BROOKS: That’s why…

GREGORY: …but we-- you know, that happens.

(Cross talk)

MR. BROOKS: That’s true. That’s actually true. That’s…

WOMAN: Well, let-- let me tell you, Hispanic…

MR. BROOKS: But we have a-- we have a much more individualistic-- we don’t like government telling us what to do. And that’s just a different society than the European system.

MR. DIONNE: But none of the people who are attacking Obamacare want to repeal Medicare. A lot of the most ardent opponents of Obamacare…

GREGORY: Well, how do you even know that they want to repeal this?

MR. DIONNE: Right. No.


MR. DIONNE: So the-- what-- no, but a lot of the people saying repeal Obamacare, say it’s just fine to have big government for people over 65. I agree that you need to prove that government can do this competently. But we have done that on Social Security. We’ve done that on Medicare. We need to do it on this.

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