Capitol Hill is abuzz today as a result of revelation of a 1993 Hillarycare task force memo that describes the Kids First proposal that is clearly the model for the current State Childrens Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) as a "precursor" to a universal coverage, single-payer system - i.e. socialized healthcare.
Politico has an excellent report this morning on the development, noting that:
"And one of the key options was creating a state-run health plan for children who didn’t qualify for Medicaid but were uninsured."That idea sounds a lot like the current State Children’s Health Insurance Program, which was eventually created by the Republican Congress in 1997.
“'Under this approach, health care reform is phased in by population, beginning with children,' the memo says. 'Kids First is really a precursor to the new system. It is intended to be freestanding and administratively simple, with states given broad flexibility in its design so that it can be easily folded into existing/future program structures.'”
But the significance of this development goes far beyond the current SCHIP debate and points to two lessons of fundamental importance for conservatives. The memo was unearthed via a lawsuit brought against the Hillarycare task force by a medical group seeking to force disclosure of documents generated by the Clinton panel's deliberations. Clinton administration lawyers have fought such disclosures for years.
And no wonder! The document reported by Politico exposes the true basic intent behind liberal proposals to cover portions of the population with a new Big Government entitlement - to create a precedent for covering the entire population with that entitlement.
The first lesson here for conservatives is this - Transparency is Big Government's worst enemy, so making Big Government as transparent as possible in every aspect not essential to national security or law enforcement should be a major priority for conservatives.
The second lesson is this: Where you start determines the direction of a compromise, so make the opposition compromise toward your basic principles. The SCHIP program was created in 1997 by the Republican majority in Congress as a compromise with the Clinton administration, which after the collapse of Hillarycare in 93 fell back to seeking incremental implementation of universal coverage.
But what if the GOP majority had approved legislation creating a tax credit or voucher for private health insurance coverage for kids in low-income families instead of Clinton's government-run SCHIP program? Then, the compromise process between Clinton and the GOP would have started from a position of reinforcing individual freedom and responsibility rather than from expanding an existing government entitlement.
Ergo: When "Me, Too" Republicans compromise with milder versions of Democratic proposals for expanded government programs, they merely delay the inevitable further expansion of Big Government. They are, as Ronald Reagan said of appeasers in foreign policy, feeding the alligator so they will be eaten last.
And just to pursue the Reagan analogy a bit further, he rejected containment of communism because it conceded the permanence of the ideological slave state, and demanded instead that American take an offensive position against the "Evil Empire."
In the contemporary domestic arena, Me, Too GOPers concede the permanence of Big Government, which guarantees its future expansion and their ultimate demise as genuine alternatives Democratic liberalism. Instead of feeding the alligator of Big Government, conservatives ought to be demanding compromises that chop off a foot here, a leg there, and ultimately, lopsoff the head.