January 6th, 2014

Luntz, entitlement, divisiveness, and the conservative message

This Atlantic article by Molly Ball, entitled “The Agony of Frank Luntz,” has an odd tone. Is it snarky? Is it objective? I can’t really tell, although I’d vote for “snarky.”

I’m not really all that interested in the article (or in Luntz, for that matter), either. But the following paragraph from it seems to summarize what most conservatives (and probably some independents) feel has happened in America during the years of the Obama administration:

The entitlement [Luntz] now hears from the focus groups he convenes amounts, in his view, to a permanent poisoning of the electorate—one that cannot be undone. “We have now created a sense of dependency and a sense of entitlement that is so great that you had, on the day that he was elected, women thinking that Obama was going to pay their mortgage payment, and that’s why they voted for him,” he says. “And that, to me, is the end of what made this country so great.”

That’s the sort of thing we’ve been discussing on this blog and on so many other forums on the right for years. In the interview with Ball, Luntz puts the blame squarely on Obama:

It was what Luntz heard from the American people that scared him. They were contentious and argumentative. They didn’t listen to each other as they once had. They weren’t interested in hearing other points of view. They were divided one against the other, black vs. white, men vs. women, young vs. old, rich vs. poor. “They want to impose their opinions rather than express them,” is the way he describes what he saw. “And they’re picking up their leads from here in Washington.” Haven’t political disagreements always been contentious, I ask? “Not like this,” he says. “Not like this.”

…it was Obama he principally blamed. The people in his focus groups, he perceived, had absorbed the president’s message of class divisions, haves and have-nots, of redistribution. It was a message Luntz believed to be profoundly wrong, but one so powerful he had no slogans, no arguments with which to beat it back.

This is why the Democrats have picked themselves up from the debacle that Obamacare has been and are counting on their campaign against “economic inequality” to appeal in this way. But the message is hardly new, and of course it hardly began with Obama, although he has delivered it repeatedly. The soil was carefully fertilized first before he could plant those seeds and have them take root so well. This is a strain in politics and in culture—both in America and abroad—that has been building for literally hundreds of years. And it rests on a foundation that is inherent in human nature, although that aspect is not always dominant and is ever at war with another desire, one towards liberty and independence.

Obama could not have been elected (remember what he said to Joe the Plumber?) without the ground having been prepared by nearly a century of ever-increasing entitlements, and most especially a “progressive” takeover of the major institutions that shape both the growing mind and the adult one (education, the MSM, and entertainment), as well as the slow and steady undermining of the traditional family.

There is no mystery here, and there should have been no surprise. If Luntz and many others were surprised, they weren’t paying attention.

And yet Luntz is a person who has been paying attention. In fact, he’s been paying more attention than most people, since in recent years he’s mostly been focusing on those “focus groups” he’s so fond of interviewing. But, as this critique of Luntz from last April says, he may have been barking up the wrong tree:

Reagan would never escape a focus group. Neither would the Contract with America, and certainly not the Tea Party. Truth and conservatism are intellectual pursuits, and as such, cannot be explained or even properly contemplated within the confines of a single focus group or poll result. And yet Rove, the so-called “architect,” cannot grasp this rather pedestrian understanding.

And apparently, neither can Luntz, and neither can the establishment consultant class. They would rather craft careful and non-confrontational campaigns that make the undecided voters get the warm and fuzzies in the focus group, than communicating the truth. Thus, we get campaigns that are more geared towards not offending soccer moms in Southern Ohio than they are towards saving the American experiment in liberty and self governance.

But Reagan in the 80s and Gingrich in the 90s were speaking to a different electorate in different times. Even though it was not all that long ago, the attitude of the public was more easily receptive to the message back then.

That does not mean it can’t resonate now, however. Despair about this is not an option, although it is sometimes a temptation. Obamacare is a little window of opportunity that needs to be opened. But the stupid party (you know who you are) had better get a lot smarter very soon. It’s late, and getting later.

40 Responses to “Luntz, entitlement, divisiveness, and the conservative message”

  1. baklava Says:

    Neo, I actually blame the information age. Nobody knows how to have face to face conversation anymore.

    In the Navy, in 1991, I had 10 hour conversations with others solving the world’s problems. We talked through what made sense. Common sense reigned.

    I wonder if Jmu Green from Fox news has had these kinds of conversations. She is so cemented in repeating propaganda from Obama that the issue being discussed goes ignored by her and in these discussions people are talking at each other, not responding to each other and not truly listening to each other.

    In 1999 I had been given responsibility for converting an African American to conservatism. He told me i did it. He told me this after we talked for 9 hours straight earlier in the week.

    I shared the message of opportunity for all and that we recognize a liberals rose colored glasses and good intentions, but results matter. I explained economics 101 and we discussed things with us each responding directly to each other.

    With the info age. I have not seen these discussions any more.

  2. KLSmith Says:

    (Had just finished reading that article via Real Clear Politics before coming to your place.)
    I thought it was pretty interesting and I didn’t read it as snarky – although she did want to point how wealthy and privileged Luntz is.
    The article reasonated with me because I’ve been pretty down since the election, too. Despair might not be an option but if your plan is hoping the stupid party gets smarter, you’d better start figuring out what your plan B is.
    Do you really think with our crappy education system and kids plugged into entertainment devices all day from the time they’re toddlers (and what that does to their attention span and ability to follow an argument) that our society is going to make better decisions on electing leaders? And does it even matter given our choice of candidates to pick from?
    It doesn’t matter how good a person Romney was when, like Luntz says, he ran a crap campaign. You can’t win if you won’t fight, or worse, only fight during the primaries. Unforgivable.

  3. Ray Says:

    Prior to the last presidential election, I was sure Romney would win given the economy. A friend told me Obama would win easily. He explained that lots of people had an entitlement mentality and Obama had promised them free goodies. So, who are they going to vote for, Santa Claus or the Grinch? People want the government to be Santa Claus and give them free goodies.

  4. Mr. Frank Says:

    I’m guessing that the great recession has rattled lots of people to the core. The increases in food stamps, extended unemployment benefits, and disability benefits reveal how many people have been removed from the production side of the economy. Lots of jobs are not coming back. Prior to the crash, people were heavily in debt with mortgages and credit cards. More recently you can add student debt. There have to be lots of people who see government as the only life line. They also see mean Republicans as a barrier to that help.

    When large numbers of people become dependent on government, things don’t go so smoothly. You can see that with the VA or Indian reservations. If the dependent groups get too large, the money for free stuff is not there. Then we get Detroit. Somehow, conservatives have to explain there is no free lunch. With the MSM on the other side of that position, it’s a hard sell.

  5. T Says:

    They didn’t listen to each other as they once had. They weren’t interested in hearing other points of view. They were divided one against the other, black vs. white, men vs. women, young vs. old, rich vs. poor. “They want to impose their opinions rather than express them, . . .

    While I don’t disagree with Luntz’s observations, I disagree that there is anything different here. Again, nihil sub sole novum; there is nothing new under the sun. The blockquote above could just as easily be used to descibe the arguments put forth in the continental congress between the anti-slave northern states and the pro-slavery southern states.

    I think the 24/7 media, loving contention as it does to draw eyes and ears, probably exacerbates these differences today more than in times past, but I just don’t think there’s anyhting new here.

    As for Rove and Luntz not being able to grasp the fact that “Truth and conservatism are intellectual pursuits, and as such, cannot be explained or even properly contemplated within the confines of a single focus group . . . .” let’s not forget that establishment Republicans can live in the D.C. bubble just as easily as Progressive Democrats.

    Democracy continues to be a messy business and, as Churchill noted “the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried.”

  6. T Says:


    But Obama didn’t win handily. Now you might respond that close only counts in horseshoes, but even with the Republican mistakes (Romney’s 47% comment, the failure of the electrfonic system to encourage voters, Romney’s refusal to hammer Obama on the economy and Benghazi, among others) Obama was only able to create a 4% victory.

    I, personally, find that very promising, indeed. Especially now, after the wake-up call of Obamacare failure and increasing premiums and deductibles. As George Will noted, there’s nothing better for conservatism than a period of untrammeled liberalism.

    Don’t despair. The loss of the battle is not the loss of the war.

  7. vanderleun Says:

    “Thus, we get campaigns that are more geared towards not offending soccer moms in Southern Ohio than they are towards saving the American experiment in liberty and self governance.”

    And well they should since themes like this seem to be a consistent help towards election on local, state, and federal level.

    The current betting — among many but not all alienated conservatives — is that countering with a stirring campaign sounding notes of the late great United States seems will do the trick.

    Seems to be the way of “what feels good” over “what wins.”

  8. T Says:

    Mr. Frank,

    “Somehow, conservatives have to explain there is no free lunch. With the MSM on the other side of that position, it’s a hard sell.”


    The economic law of gravity is that the consumer (taxpayer) always pays . . . and the brutal truth is that gravity always wins.

  9. kaba Says:

    I work for a social service entity. Clients can apply for almost any benefit available except for SS and Medicare. The sense of entitlement I witness is almost breathtaking. The demand for MORE: NOW: and without providing all of those messy answers seems to grow on a daily basis.

    Bread and circuses; bread and circuses. But as Mrs. Thatcher noted, we will sooner or later run out of other people’s money.

  10. vanderleun Says:

    Chief among the “principled opposition” is a core conviction that cheating to win is not one of the oppositions core values or activities. This lends the opposition a good deal of gravitas and internal approval.

    The conundrum is that to win in contemporary electoral politics requires cheating. And without the ability to cheat a party or faction cannot, in today’s electoral environment, hope to prevail strongly enough or broadly enough for long enough to alter the need to cheat to win.

  11. blert Says:

    America has to hit the bottom before she can 12-step her way back.

    I give you Soviet Russia and Nazi Germany — even the Bourbon Dynasty.

    Everything has to auger in to the ground: the economy has to be gutted.

    And his is where Barry comes in big. As certified Gonnabee of the first water, he’s already crafted an unfinanceable central government. It has the grace and logic of a parasitically infected ground snail. (“Look at me, look at me!”)

    He’s fulsomely trashing the US currency. Epic!

    With any luck, he’ll have historians forgetting Mao, Stalin, Hitler, and Napoleon — for they’ll be pikers in the big scheme — after Barry sets atomic war on the loose.

    Complete destruction of the enterprise is the NORMAL and ORDINARY outcome of putting a Gonnabee in the top executive position. Scale matters not

    He’s already got the USN mostly in port — wasting away. He’s got the USA mostly sitting in its barracks — wasting away.

    He’s shipping funds in mega-loads to aliens and setting the front door wide open — proffering one-way entry tickets, too.

    If he follows all prior norms, for Gonnabees, he’ll not be for leaving. (January 20,2017 will be deemed only a suggestion.)

    His wife has metastisized a First Ladyship into a Queenship. Her staff out numbers that of all other FLOTUS — many, many, times over.

    Rasputin has nothing on Valerie girl!

    Holder makes Mitchell look like a choir boy.

    Luntz is pointing to the WRONG dude.

    The breakdown of American democratic-republicanism is due to the MSM and the fulsome absorption of the Frankfurt Shul.

    (A sick parody of Judaism, that moniker was.)

    Barry is just our “Mule” — in the Isaac Asimovian sense.

    (Second Foundation — clearly an echo of the political mutant/ fuhrer personality who can talk nonsense to great effect.)

  12. T Says:


    I don’t deny what you note, however, keep in mind that you’re work only draws a certain portion of the population. People who choose to work, people who disdain govt help (and yes, they do exist) rarely, if ever show up at your front door.


    Correct. If one is going to fight with someone who’s in the gutter, one must expect to get dirty himself. The best example of this I know is in a Warner Bros. cartoon. Bugs Bunny and Yosemite Sam are, of all things, running for office. Bugs shows up in a Teddy Roosevelt mustache and a “Smokey Bear” hat and announces: “I speak softly and carry a b-i-i-g-g-g stick.” Sam, on the other hand shows up and shouts “Well I speak loudly and carry a bigger stick. . . . and I use it too” (Thwack!)

    Such is life.

  13. kaba Says:

    I pray that you’re right. The only thing that allows me to sleep at night and return to work each day is the other side of the house. They protect the very young and very old. And sadly, their services are all too necessary.

  14. Eric Says:

    The popular movement must come first. It must come always and can never end.

    The problem with the Right – consistently evident in the comments on this blog – is narrowly thinking in terms of candidates, elections, and elected office.

    That’s fundamentally the wrong approach.

    The Right must learn from the Left and fully take on Marxist-method activism in order to activate a popular movement that competes with the Left in the essential arena.

    Winning elections is merely a by-product of properly done Marxist-method activism.

    Obama didn’t win because he was ever a superior candidate to anyone. Obama won as part of the superior popular political movement.

    That’s where the Tea Party broke its promise to the GOP. That’s why the Tea Party ought to be marginalized by establishment GOP.

    The Dems have skewed hard left because the Left delivered on its promise of a reliable popular movement to the Dems. The Left properly paid for the Dems to follow them.

    The Tea Party has not properly paid for the GOP to follow them.

    The Tea Party promised to be a popular movement that could compete on the ground in the Marxist-method arena and bring voters to the GOP. Instead, the Tea Party became fixated on elected office and shortchanged the critical thing they were supposed to provide the GOP – a popular movement.

    Yet despite not delivering on their side of the bargain, Tea Party adherents continue to make demands of the GOP without paying for them. The Tea Party demands something for nothing.

    The GOP needs a viable popular movement and the Tea Party needs to return to their original promise and provide that. When they bring a viable popular movement to the table, then the GOP can – and only then, should – follow the Tea Party.

  15. KLSmith Says:

    T: George Will is wrong. The re-elections of all the Dems running our liberal cities decade after decade is proof. People are ill-informed and most of them vote emotionally. And of course, once the people realize they can vote themselves money….
    Not trying to be disagreeable, but were you saying @ 4:30pm that the taxpayer will eventually win? Because that isn’t going to happen either. It’s like the Obamacare voters thinking someone else was going to pay for it. The ideology of those in power destroys the middle class (taxpayers).

  16. Mike Says:

    ‘But Reagan in the 80s and Gingrich in the 90s were speaking to a different electorate in different times. Even though it was not all that long ago, the attitude of the public was more easily receptive to the message back then.”

    The electorate then was better educated, morally sound, and religiously oriented.

    There is no escaping the truth that the answer is a religious one….or there will be no answer and only a decline into chaos. When America goes, there will be no “America” to make the fall an easy one (as in Europe).

    Of course, when the chaos comes (and it will be horrible), then religion will inevitably return to its proper place.

    Anyone who thinks otherwise (that there is some other real solution that is not religious) is delusional. They are kidding themselves. They are whistling in the dark. They are hoping for something that never was and never will be.

    I cannot take credit for this (it belongs to one of my favorite philosophers) but probably the main problem we have in the contemporary West today (and in the whole world really) is that we think our problems are political when they are not. They are religious. Or another way – we try to solve religious problems politically.

    It won’t work. It will do (look around for goodness sakes!) incredible harm. It will cause monumental suffering, suffering that is apocalyptic to use the common term.

    Back in the 80s there was the Moral Majority; there was Jerry Falwell and all manner of religious conversions going on. Were some of them hypocrites? Of course! They were human. The people who only saw their hypocrisy were bigger hypocrites still and blond as bats (and no I am not an fundy Born Again, but Roman Catholic).

    Reagan had three great partners to prove my point: Thatcher, Walesa, and John Paul II.

    Find those four people again, and add in the Falwells and 700 Clubs of the world and you’ll find your answer.

    Try it without their counterparts and the end is failure and disaster.

    As the two men said in the movie: “I want the truth!”…”You can’t handle the truth!”

    Bingo. We can’t handle the truth. Tough for us. It remains the truth.

  17. T Says:


    No, I was saying that the taxpayer always pays in contrast to those of the entitlement persuasion who believe that there is such a thing as a “free” lunch.

    With regard to cities under Dem control that you mention above, I don’t disagree with you, but I will add that IMO the problem is not as simplistic as your comment makes it appear. I live in Pittsburgh, a blue social model, union, Democrat bastion for the past 70 years. The govt runs much like a little Chicago although it’s neither as corrupt nor as influential and the Dems (especially those of the ’50s and ’60s) actually accomplished some good things in this city in its conversion from a dirty steel town to a clean steel town to an urban hi-tech and medical center.

    The electorate still sees the Dem party as an extension of the JFK, TIP O’Neill, Scoop Jackson and Pat Moynihan party of that era, not so much as allied to the Nancy Pelosi, Dick Durbin national Dem party. Our local Republican party has done nothing to disabuse the electorate of that idea, and in fact has in some ways reinforced it. So why would they vote otherwise? I, personally, find it a source of incredible frustration.

  18. Ymarsakar Says:

    That’s where the Tea Party broke its promise to the GOP. That’s why the Tea Party ought to be marginalized by establishment GOP.

    I don’t think the IRS suppressing the Tea Party with the GOP’s help, is why the GOP can say the TP broke any promises.

  19. KLSmith Says:

    T: thanks for the reply, and sorry if I misunderstood your comment.
    If my reply seems simple, I think it’s because the evidence is pretty clear cut. Plus, I try to get to the point rather than writing long posts. It’s not my blog and people aren’t coming here to read me.
    Still a lot of yellow dog Dems in PA. How every middle age and older Dem doesn’t realize that their party has changed (as in gone far left) amazes me.

  20. KLSmith Says:

    The Tea Party didn’t make any promises, candidates did. Some have kept those promises and others were corrupted by the establishment or were lying about their beliefs to win an election. C’est la vie, say the old folks.

  21. Quotes of the day « Hot Air Says:

    […] That does not mean it can’t resonate now, however. Despair about this is not an option, although it is sometimes a temptation. Obamacare is a little window of opportunity that needs to be opened. But the stupid party (you know who you are) had better get a lot smarter very soon. It’s late, and getting later. […]

  22. Matt_SE Says:

    It doesn’t matter if voters think they’re entitled or not; once the money runs out, you’d better watch out.

    And after being coddled for so long, few of them will have any useful skills after the collapse. Unless you count “rioting” as a useful skill.

  23. RIK Says:

    I agree wth luntz, the people are corrupt. And from this stench, a durable majority for the dems. Durable for winning elections, making gadgets etc. God help us when we get into a real shooting war with this crowd. I never thought that when my doctor told me that will probably see 100 years maybe more that it would be a curse

  24. parker Says:

    Before a course correction, there must be a great fall., massive destruction. Limping along only lasts so long and the era of limping is nearing an end. The problem is what direction will society take after the great fall. History does not lead one to optiiism; but its all we have to hold onto. After all, we are (at least some of us) Americans. First there is pain, then there is awareness, and then there is action. Timeless no matter what society or century: http://tinyurl.com/kvy4nx5

  25. parker Says:

    ” God help us when we get into a real shooting war with this crowd.”

    If only.

  26. T Says:

    KLSmith wrote (@9:06): “How every middle age and older Dem doesn’t realize that their party has changed (as in gone far left) amazes me.”

    You and me both. I do a lot of local civic work which I work knee deep with Democrats. They are the classic God-fearing hard working blue collar types from the ’50s and ’60s. They are great, hard working and honest people, and you are right they still hold to a Dem party as their parents saw it 50 and 60 years ago. Again, though, our local Republican party has existed for years as though it’s been given regular injections of Depo-Provera so it really hasn’t offered much of an alternative or given people any good reason to vote otherwise.

  27. Beverly Says:

    There’s one really good reason to hope — Obama’s popularity is about as substantial as the hot air in a hot air balloon.

    The mediots supply the hot air. Like Evan True (misnomer, that!) said about the Bush/Kerry race, the media’s nonstop support of the Democrats gives them an extra 10-15 points in the polls.

    Meaning that, if it weren’t for all the nonstop PROPAGANDA, Americans would cough these guys up like a hairball. Yes, even present-day Americans.

    The one thing the Left really fears is if the electorate ever sees the gargoyle behind that curtain. And this is why Obamacare has to be handled just right: it’s a Glimpse of the Gargoyle. People don’t forget a sight like that; not when the Gargoyle is in their own home.

  28. Beverly Says:

    The other reason not to give up? Well, like Winston Churchill the Great said, “Never give up: never, never, never, never!”

    Be a bit bloodyminded about it. Cede nothing. Burn the house down and sow every acre with salt, like Scarlett O’Hara. Find your fighting spirit!

  29. Richard Aubrey Says:

    Problem with, as Margaret Thatcher observed, running out of other people’s money is who gets blamed. Not the lying promisers of free stuff ad infinitum.
    Some other group already pre-othered and demonized.
    IOW, anybody with a money and/or a job.
    They were greedy.

  30. JuliB Says:

    I saw a report that one of the members of Monty Python said that The Life of Brian couldn’t be made today because the culture has changed so much.

    Religion, morality, etc have been chased from the public square much to the detriment of our culture. When is the last time you heard anyone suggest that idle hands make for the devil’s workshop? Any statement of what can be perceived as judgment is met with horror in society. Good grief – look at the boxer’s (Holyfield) statement about gays being similar to the handicapped.

    At least he didn’t retract or apologize, but stated he was merely giving his opinion.

    Our viewpoints are being demonized. How does one fight that?

  31. holmes Says:

    And worse, what I see is many on the Right basically accepting our role as slightly better managers of the Titanic. I know this will harken back to Romney, et al, who I supported in the end, but while they have a point that pragmatism has a role, pragmatism does not inspire. And what is considered pragmatic is always viewed within an ideological framework. It’s just pragmatic to keep extending unemployment benefits. It’s pragmatic to accept the ACA and just fix it. etc.

    Reagan’s views resonated because they inspired and they were seen as pragmatic and common sense at a time that saw center right thinking as such. Now center left thinking is such and we’re sliding even further.

  32. bt Says:

    I will never understand how Republicans manage to reject Obamacare, it is essentially an idea that was hatched at the Heritage Institute, was trotted out from time to time, as when Clinton tried to do something with Health Care and then implemented in Massachusetts by your nominee Mitt Romney. Many GOP leaders at the time said that it (Romneycare) was potentially a model for the nation.

    If you wonder why Romney lost the election, here is a guy who has to pretend Obamacare is communism, when it was Romneycare at it’s core. Mitt didn’t look like an intellectual giant out there; he was completely insincere and it showed. Christ, Romenycare even covered contraception – though for some reason when he did it the Catholic Church didn’t seem to mind.

    Here’s a little secret, Democrats don’t really like Obamacare either. But that’s because it’s a sucky, republican-inspired giveaway to the insurance companies. Still I’ll take it, it is better than nothing. And nothing is pretty much the GOP plan for America these days.


    Quoted below, Jim Demint Commenting on Romneycare, before he was against it, as they say:

    “Well, I think that’s something I think we should do for the whole country. The Governor just looked at the numbers like a good businessman and realized we could give people private insurance policies cheaper than we could provide free health care. What that does is it spreads out the risk, it gets the Government out of the Health Care business, and actually makes the heath care system work a lot better. The Legislature in Massachusetts made it a little harder to make these policies affordable. But we’ve got probably over 20 states now that are trying to copy what he did, and that’s a good sign that people think he’s on the right track.”


    Now Go ahead and point out how Obamacare is nothing like Romneycare. Knock yourselves out people. But remember here are the basic pieces of Romneycare:

    -Individual and Business Mandates (for no lazy free riders!!)
    -Based on private insurance
    -Subsidies for lower income people to buy private insurance
    -Medicaid expansion

  33. Beverly Says:

    Oh, sure, there are fools and poltroons in the Republican Party, and big-government Establishment types. Not liberal asshats like those on the Left, but still….

    Conservatives would rather be free people than have “three hots and a cot” via the government gang: which gets their money from US, “gives” it back to us after taking a huge cut out of it.

    Anything there that’s too difficult for you to grasp, BT?

  34. Patrick M Says:

    Shorter Frak Luntz depressed-by-electorate meme:

    This country can survive 8 years of Obama.
    But it’s debatable if this country can long endure the kind of electorate that would *RE-ELECT* someone like Obama.

  35. neo-neocon Says:


    Take your liberal talking points about Obamacare and the Heritage Foundation elsewhere, because that dog won’t hunt here. I know that liberals are very fond of saying the two were essentially the same, but the differences are huge.

    These were some similarities, such as the fact that both were based on private insurance rather than single payer, they had things called “exchanges” where people could shop for insurance, and their goal was to insure more people. But the differences are huge. The Heritage Plan (and Romney’s original idea, as opposed to Romneycare as it was passed by the liberal legislature in Massachusetts) was that the exchanges would feature less government regulation of policies rather than more, and would therefore feature true competition among the companies. This was the exact opposite of Obamacare. Catastrophic insurance (which has lower premiums and high deductibles), would be one of the choices (Obamacare restricts this). Choice was the idea.

    This 2012 article by Stuart Butler, who had been responsible for many of Heritage’s policy statements for many years, explains the arrangement conservatives had been suggesting back then, and lists a few of the large and extremely important differences between that and Obamacare:

    But the version of the health insurance mandate Heritage and I supported in the 1990s had three critical features. First, it was not primarily intended to push people to obtain protection for their own good, but to protect others. Like auto damage liability insurance required in most states, our requirement focused on “catastrophic” costs — so hospitals and taxpayers would not have to foot the bill for the expensive illness or accident of someone who did not buy insurance.

    Second, we sought to induce people to buy coverage primarily through the carrot of a generous health credit or voucher, financed in part by a fundamental reform of the tax treatment of health coverage, rather than by a stick.

    And third, in the legislation we helped craft that ultimately became a preferred alternative to ClintonCare, the “mandate” was actually the loss of certain tax breaks for those not choosing to buy coverage, not a legal requirement.

    Calling something a “mandate” or an “exchange” doesn’t mean it works the same. The entire philosophy of the plan was different.

  36. FOAF Says:

    “The entire philosophy of the plan was different.”

    Thanks neo. The left doesn’t have much recourse these days when arguing except to flat-out lie. Unfortunately it’s been working for them.

  37. bt Says:

    I confess i don’t know the Heritage Plan too well.

    As I understand it, Heritage suggests that all Americans have guaranteed access to Health Care (guaranteed by the governement, one assumes).

    Heritage also proposes an individual mandate that all Americans must purchase Insurance. From Private insurers.

    No matter how you slice this thing, the mandate for individuals to buy insurance is the key element. That’s what makes the Heritage Plan tick, that’s what makes Romneycare tick, and that’s what make Obamacare tick. That’s what make insurance companies happy.

    I think heritage also proposes to eliminate the tax deduction on Health care for businesses. Which would be a great thing. The link between employment and health care is truly a stupid stupid arrangement.

  38. neo-neocon Says:


    The mandate was in Romneycare for one simple reason: the state of Massachusetts (overwhelmingly liberal; Romney was dealing with a legislature that was 85% Democrats) already had mandated that pre-existing conditions be covered, and therefore people were waiting to buy insurance till they got sick. It was an untenable situation, and the legislature was not going to repeal that provision. Therefore some sort of “mandate” was necessary. And it was done at the state level, which is no violation of the Constitution (unlike the constitutional problems that arise if it is done at the federal level, as in Obamacare).

    What’s more, whether you understand what the Heritage Foundation had originally proposed or not, I had already quoted to you what it had said about a mandate. I’ll repeat it:

    And third, in the legislation we helped craft that ultimately became a preferred alternative to ClintonCare, the “mandate” was actually the loss of certain tax breaks for those not choosing to buy coverage, not a legal requirement.

  39. bt Says:

    A few points, I’ve not read the Heritage Plan, and I’m a glutton or punishment!

    This is text verbatem from The Heritage Plan Authored by Stuart Butler in 1989, according to Forbes Magazine (the Capitalist Tool):

    “Many states now require passengers in automobiles to wear seatbelts for their own protection. Many others require anybody driving a car to have liability insurance. But neither the federal government nor any state requires all households to protect themselves from the potentially catastrophic costs of a serious accident or illness. Under the Heritage plan, there would be such a requirement.

    This mandate is based on two important principles. First, that health care protection is a responsibility of individuals, not businesses. Thus to the extent that anybody should be required to provide coverage to a family, the household mandate assumes that it is the family that carries the first responsibility. Second, it assumes that there is an implicit contract between households and society, based on the notion that health insurance is not like other forms of insurance protection.”

    I don’t mind if you disagree with me at all (why else would I post here?), but are those words above the text from Butler or not?

    I feel like there has been a lot of backtracking on this thing – as soon as Obama went and did it. Reference: Jim DeMint. On the point of getting the mandate off of businesses and de-linked it from employment, I’m in full agreement. My employer should not have any stake in my health care. Pity those who works for Hobby Lobby.

  40. neo-neocon Says:


    My understanding of the difference between Stuart Butler’s individual mandate 1.1 and Stuart Butler’s individual mandate 1.2 is that the quote you offer describes the first proposal (late 80s) and the quote I offered described the version that was decided on to counter Hillarycare in the early 90s. The first proposal seemed to only deal with catastrophic coverage The second version seemed to involve tax breaks rather than a mandate.

    In addition, for what it’s worth, Romneycare as Romney proposed it (which was different from Romneycare as ultimately passed by the Massachusetts legislature) involved something that worked a bit differently than a mandate:

    Romney also wanted a way for those of means to opt out of the mandate by posting a bond — essentially a promise to pay for future uninsured health care costs. Critics called it a “fig leaf’’ and Romney concedes that few would have taken advantage — just as only a handful choose a similar option to post a $10,000 bond rather than buy compulsory auto insurance in Massachusetts.

    But the principle mattered to him, and the failure of the Legislature to agree still rankles…

    If you go here, you’ll find a lot of information on how much Romney’s proposals differed from “Romneycare” as it was ultimately enacted, and how much of it went against what Romney would have liked, had he been dealing with a cooperative legislature. I got the information from a lengthy article in the Boston Globe, and I’d give you the link to that, too, but it’s now behind a firewall.

Leave a Reply

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

About Me

Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.

Monthly Archives


Ace (bold)
AmericanDigest (writer’s digest)
AmericanThinker (thought full)
Anchoress (first things first)
AnnAlthouse (more than law)
AtlasShrugs (fearless)
AugeanStables (historian’s task)
Baldilocks (outspoken)
Barcepundit (theBrainInSpain)
Beldar (Texas lawman)
BelmontClub (deep thoughts)
Betsy’sPage (teach)
Bookworm (writingReader)
Breitbart (big)
ChicagoBoyz (boyz will be)
Contentions (CommentaryBlog)
DanielInVenezuela (against tyranny)
DeanEsmay (conservative liberal)
Donklephant (political chimera)
Dr.Helen (rights of man)
Dr.Sanity (thinking shrink)
DreamsToLightening (Asher)
EdDriscoll (market liberal)
Fausta’sBlog (opinionated)
GayPatriot (self-explanatory)
HadEnoughTherapy? (yep)
HotAir (a roomful)
InFromTheCold (once a spook)
InstaPundit (the hub)
JawaReport (the doctor is Rusty)
LegalInsurrection (law prof)
RedState (conservative)
Maggie’sFarm (centrist commune)
MelaniePhillips (formidable)
MerylYourish (centrist)
MichaelTotten (globetrotter)
MichaelYon (War Zones)
Michelle Malkin (clarion pen)
Michelle Obama's Mirror (reflections)
MudvilleGazette (milblog central)
NoPasaran! (behind French facade)
NormanGeras (principled leftist)
OneCosmos (Gagdad Bob’s blog)
PJMedia (comprehensive)
PointOfNoReturn (Jewish refugees)
Powerline (foursight)
ProteinWisdom (wiseguy)
QandO (neolibertarian)
RachelLucas (in Italy)
RogerL.Simon (PJ guy)
SecondDraft (be the judge)
SeekerBlog (inquiring minds)
SisterToldjah (she said)
Sisu (commentary plus cats)
Spengler (Goldman)
TheDoctorIsIn (indeed)
Tigerhawk (eclectic talk)
VictorDavisHanson (prof)
Vodkapundit (drinker-thinker)
Volokh (lawblog)
Zombie (alive)

Regent Badge