Health care? There's an app for that

A humorous video offered by the National Republican Congressional Committee spoofs the iPhone commercials, noting the bulky approach to “reform” offered by House Democrats.

The video is reminiscent of Daniel Henninger's Wall Street Journal column last week that suggested that Democrats are offering old school solutions to people used to the customized individualism provided by products like the iPhone:

In a world defined by nearly 100,000 iPhone apps, a world of seemingly limitless, self-defined choice, the Democrats are pushing the biggest, fattest, one-size-fits all legislation since 1965. And they brag this will complete the dream Franklin D. Roosevelt had in 1939.

In fact, the fight against socialized medicine has been waged for decades. Here's a now all-too-familiar speech by a young Ronald Reagan about the problems of government health care.

 

A key line is that a similar scheme was proposed under the Truman administration, and the American people rejected it. In a 2007 article in Slate, David Greenberg lamented that the term “socialized medicine” gave a good policy a scary implication:

To some, the prospect that socialized medicine would still frighten anyone is absurd. Fears that “creeping socialism” might insidiously erode American freedoms are a relic of a distant age, like worries about fluoride in the water. Even so, the socialized medicine meme may have transcended the fevered ideological climate that spawned it. The words retain a talismanic power—a power that will soon be tested again.

This theme — that Cold War scare tactics stood in the way of reasonable policies that represented progress — is a constant for many liberals in general, and particularly in medicine. Here's Cornell professor Theda Skocpol in her book Boomerang about the failed Hillarycare experiment:

Ironically, President Clinton thought he was being responsible and moderate to place the emphasis on regulations rather than new taxes, to focus on controlling and cutting health care costs as well as on extending social benefits. Yet he aroused widespread fears about possible federal government interventions in accustomed social and economic routines. Insurgent conservatives opposed to new — and existing — federal programs were waiting in the wings, ready to take advantage of those fears.

The Obama administration is employing the same rhetorical device, referring to opposition as being a bunch of Republican scare tactics:

White House officials say Obama's adversaries are using distortion, deception, and intimidation in an effort to scare key constituencies, including the elderly, into opposing Democratic legislation on health care.

But pointing out the problems caused by a piece of legislation isn't a demonstration of scare tactics. It's criticism. And if it's rooted particularly in a philosophical opposition to larger government, it's principled opposition.It's as though the liberal line on health care should be called the Scooby Doo Excuse, as put forward by every villain on Scooby Doo: “And we woulda gotten away with it too if it weren't for those pesky conservatives!”

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