26 Mar 2010

Ben Stein Wants Props for Being More Socialist Than Obama

Economics 4 Comments

I truncated the post title a little bit for brevity, and a lot to be provocative, but you tell me if I’ve mischaracterized Ben Stein’s thoughts on passage of the health insurance legislation (HT2 DRH):

[W]ith some justification, most of the media rejoiced that national health care had arrived for people with low incomes, with pre-existing conditions, without jobs, with impoverished employers.

To call Barack Obama’s response to the passage…of this bill “triumphalist” is like calling Mount Everest “tall”.

But among the glorying, there was little or no mention of my former boss, Richard M. Nixon, and this was a monstrous wrong, one of an innumerable number of wrongs directed at Mr. Nixon. The flat truth is that in February of 1974…with large Democrat majorities in both houses of Congress, Republican Richard M. Nixon submitted to Congress a national health care bill in many ways more comprehensive than what Mr. Obama achieved.

Mr. Nixon’s health care plan…would have covered all employed persons by giving combined state and federal subsidies to employers. It would have covered the poor and the unemployed by much larger subsidies. It would have encouraged health maintenance organizations. It would have banned exclusions for pre-existing conditions and not allowed limits on spending for each insured. I know a bit about this because I, your humble servant, as a 29 year old speech writer, wrote the message to congress sending up the bill.

In many ways, the bill was far more ‘socialist’ than what Mr. Obama has proposed. It certainly involved a far larger swath of state and federal government power over health care…

My point is not whether or not Mr Nixon’s plan was better than Mr Obama’s. In fact, they have many points in common. My only point is that if you want to call someone a visionary, if you want to call someone compassionate, if you want to note that someone was a foe of inequality and a friend to mercy, think of Richard Nixon…

4 Responses to “Ben Stein Wants Props for Being More Socialist Than Obama”

  1. Bob Roddis says:

    I recall very specifically that in 1972 the Libertarian Party was created in reaction to the loathesome Mr. Nixon. I was very happy to learn that when I changed over from being a commie that I could be simultaneously for free enterprise and anti-Nixon.

    And I still am.

    Stein is correct in one respect. No matter how many commie ideas put forth and/or enacted by Nixon, the “progressives” loathed him as a mad-bombing right-winger. Nothing has changed

    Nixon should have just switched parties in 1973. He’d probably be on a coin by now.

  2. Zachariah Crossen says:

    I think that Stein’s comments were more of an Ubi Sunt than a declaration of principles. He’s not really saying that socialistic healthcare is good. He’s more saying that Nixon conceived of it long before Obama did, so Obama should not get the credit.

    I also detected a bit of irony in his mentioning that both houses were heavily democratic, but obviously Nixon’s plan failed.

  3. bobmurphy says:

    Zach, you’re right, that’s the main thrust of what he was saying, but he said in the beginning “with some justification” the media was elated with the new bill etc. And the stuff at the end about thinking compassion etc. is a bit silly to say, if in fact you think (as I do) that this legislation gives the government another way to lean on people, and will make people receive worse medical care than otherwise. Last thing, it is really a “monstrous wrong” directed at Mr. Nixon for not acknowledging that he wanted to ruin health care back then, more than the Democrats are doing now?

    I get what you’re saying, Zach, and I think if pushed into a corner on Hannity’s TV show, Stein would say he was doing exactly what you are claiming. But if so, he would be trying to have it both ways. In fact, from his article I can’t even tell if he’s against ObamaCare or not.

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