Response to Letter to the Philadelphia Inquirer About Unprecedented

January 25th, 2014

Marc Schneier writes to the Philadelphia Inquirer to dispute a recent article written about my talk in the city of the Brotherly Love.

“Fighting Words,” Chris Mondics’ recent article on Josh Blackman, portrays him as a libertarian law professor who nonetheless “tells it like it is” to both liberal and conservative audiences. Blackman’s book on the Affordable Care Act is described as receiving praise from liberals and libertarians alike.

Yet the article ends with Blackman criticizing the ACA for having been passed with no Republican support in Congress.

This shibboleth belies any portrayal of Blackman as an objective scholar. It is well established in reliable media (such as a “Frontine” program) that before Barack Obama was even sworn in, Republican leaders in Congress elected a policy of “just say no” to whatever policy the President proposed. This stonewalling even extended to health care reform, even though the President used as his model a private-insurance-based Massachusetts plan championed by a Republican governor who would become the party’s 2012 presidential contender.

Shibboleth is one of my favorite words. I hope one day it will be used fairly to describe something I wrote. But today’s not that day, because I agree with Mark.

I made a very similar point on Page 114. The GOP after the 2008 election determined to make Obama a “one-term president,” and stop all of his efforts, including healthcare.

This vote [to repeal Obamacare] also kept the issue of the law’s constitutionality in the forefront and kept the president “on the defensive,” so that his efforts on other initiatives would be diverted to defending the health care law. This vote was consistent with Senate Majority Leader Mitch Mc- Connell’s October 23, 2010, statement: “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.” After the 2010 election, McConnell elaborated on his message. “But the fact is, if our primary legislative goals are to repeal and replace the health spending bill; to end the bailouts; cut spend- ing; and shrink the size and scope of government, the only way to do all these things is to put someone in the White House who won’t veto any of these things. We can hope the president will start listening to the electorate after Tuesday’s election. But we can’t plan on it. And it would be foolish to expect that Republicans will be able to com- pletely reverse the damage Democrats have done as long as a Demo- crat holds the veto pen.” This vote, no doubt, was part of a concerted Republican strategy to challenge Obama’s efficacy as a president and force him to defend his record leading up to the 2012 presidential election.

I also wrote ad nauseum about Heritage’s support for the mandate, and the hypocritical change of position from prominent Republicans from Mitt Romney to Newt Gingrich.

Next time, I’ll shoot for a real shibboleth!