Donald Trump offered the single best, most original policy idea in the Republican Party debate Thursday night. He also demonstrated by far the greatest understanding of a complicated area of public policy. There, I said it.Yglesias is talking about healthcare. The moderators tried to "get" Trump with a question about his past support for single-payer healthcare. He said this:
"It works in Canada," said Trump, and "it works incredibly well in Scotland." He even went so far as to say that "it could have worked in a different age" in the United States but is not currently suited to our problems.Which is exactly what a lot of serious healthcare wonks believe; that single payer would have been great if it had been introduced in 1965, but now health care is such a big part of our economy that the disruption would be too great. You may disagree (I do), but as I said Trump has a lot of experts on his side. Then Trump offered an actual idea for improving Obamacare:
What I'd like to see is a private system without the artificial lines around every state. I have a big company with thousands and thousands of employees, but if I'm negotiating in New York or in New Jersey or in California, I have, like, one bidder. Nobody can bid.One bidder is an exaggeration, but Trump is right that the balkanization of the health care marketplace into 51 separate markets is a big hassle for large corporations, and it probably costs consumers. There are reasons why states want their own regulations, but this is at least a serious issue and Trump has offered a concrete proposal. Not only that, but he turned what was clearly intended as a simple attack on his record into a chance to offer a policy idea. What more could any candidate do in the time allowed?
But consider the other main policy ideas discussed:So who is the clown? Bush is supposed to be the most serious candidate, but he did nothing but spout nonsense about economic growth and war with Iran. As Yglesias says, John Kasich offered an admirable defense of accepting Obamacare's Medicaid expansion in his own state, but said nothing about what his policy for the nation would be as President.
- Mike Huckabee said we could close the actuarial shortfall in Social Security by making "illegals, prostitutes, pimps, [and] drug dealers" pay taxes.
- Jeb Bush said we could achieve 4 percent GDP growth by "lift[ing] our spirits and hav[ing] high, lofty expectations for this great country of ours."
- Chris Christie proposed raising the Social Security retirement age, which at least makes sense but is a disaster for the poor.
- Scott Walker said police officers should be trained.
- Marco Rubio and Scott Walker both said we should ban abortion even in cases where abortion is necessary to save a pregnant woman's life.
- Rand Paul touted his budget proposal that would be devastating to the poor.
- Ben Carson doesn't have any policy ideas.
- Ted Cruz promised to "open an investigation into these videos and to prosecute Planned Parenthood for any criminal violations."
- John Kasich managed to get through a discussion of his Medicaid policy in Ohio without saying a single word about what he would do with Medicaid as president.
Donald Trump is acting the clown, and gratuitously insulting Mexicans and women, but when you compare his policies to those of his opponents, I don't see how they are more ridiculous.