I’m taking a snippet from an Ezra Klein post on Bobby Jindal’s state wide health care proposal for Louisiana to make another point. If you want to read more about the specifics of the plan, go here and here, but Ezra makes a point about how quickly the Wonk Room at CAP was to criticize a fairly decent plan.
Even fairly educated political observers take their cues from favored politicians and opinion outlets, and so you have to be careful that in achieving one priority (blunting the political fortunes of a Republican comer, say) you’re not doing collateral damage to another priority (medical system reform). Over at the Wonk Room, Volsky does a pretty good job balancing all this, and ends his post arguing that Jindal should emphasize the “medical homes” model, which I agree with. But as someone like Jindal rises, it’s easy to imagine the incentives being weighted against the long-term policy goal and in favor of short-term political points, and that’s something to be wary of.
This is right on, and when I had initially read Volsky’s post I was suspicious that he might be overstating the argument against Jindal’s plan simply for the sake of disagreeing. However, as someone who is pretty familiar with health care reform but hardly an expert, it would have taken a fair amount of research for me to confirm this suspicion. As it turns out, my skepticism was justified. It’s one thing for non-expert bloggers to proverbially “throw shit on the wall” — it’s pretty clear when this is happening — but CAP is a trusted think tank; it’s head, John Podesta, is running Obama’s transition. The convservative right has justly earned a reputation for selective and hack scholarship by overly politicizing every matter of policy, and in the long run, it’s served them poorly (wonder why they’re now “out of ideas”?). It’s imperative that CAP retain its objectivity both for the sake of the greater good and also to preserve the integrity of the liberal “brand.”