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The White House's Laughably Bad Attack on Medicare-for-all

If this is the best attack on Medicare-for-all American conservatives can come up with, we may safely conclude the policy debate is settled

Every year we flush a trillion bucks straight down a toilet of price-gouging, pointless complexity, and straight-up fraud. (Photo: Illustrated | PhotoBylove/iStock, JOE RAEDLE/AFP/Getty Images)

Every year we flush a trillion bucks straight down a toilet of price-gouging, pointless complexity, and straight-up fraud. (Photo: Illustrated | PhotoBylove/iStock, JOE RAEDLE/AFP/Getty Images)

Your faithful correspondent made an appearance in a White House Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) report on Tuesday. If it weren't the Trump administration, I would have been gobsmacked at this development, as well as the incredible amateurishness of the product. But because it is the Trump administration, I'm mildly impressed that they spelled my name correctly.

The report is titled "The Opportunity Costs of Socialism," and it reads like it was written by the guy who wrote the Dow: 36,000 book published right before the dot-com stock market crash — oh wait, turns out the co-author is now chair of the CEA. What fun times we live in.

In between agitprop about Venezuela and some truly ridiculous economics, the report spends a lot of time trying to prove Medicare-for-all is bad, which is where it cites one of my previous articles. (Perhaps they were inspired by new polling that shows a majority of Republicans now support the policy.) Unsurprisingly, the case is total garbage.

One prong of the argument is the typical conservative circular reasoning about markets. Medicare-for-all will remove choices, and thereby reduce freedom: "A consumer who is unhappy with the state’s choices has little recourse," the authors write. The logic here is that because markets (supposedly) operate through consumers choosing between different providers, they increase freedom, which can be seen because customers get to choose. But this is just to say markets increase freedom because they increase freedom.

Fallacies aside, the assumption here is that choice is what we want. But is it? If health care is delivered through market institutions, I am forced to make complicated, burdensome decisions I am unqualified to make about insurance options and other matters. Should I pick a higher deductible and hope I don't get sick, or a lower one and chance paying a lot for coverage I don't use? Then I must pay very close attention to doctor networks, covered prescription drugs, and so on.

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Ryan Cooper

Ryan Cooper

Ryan Cooper is a national correspondent at TheWeek.com. His work has appeared in the Washington Monthly, The New Republic, and the Washington Post.

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