Fresh on the heels of victories for conservative ideas in the elections, I was immersed this week in discussions about those holding fast to liberal policies.
First, Vermont: Jeff Lemieux of the center-left Progressive Policy Institute and I were invited by John McClaughry of the Ethan Allen Institute to speak at a forum on health care last Saturday. The day’s program, “Making Vermont Government Work,” was organized long before John knew that Republican Jim Douglas would win the governorship and his party would hold the state’s House of Representatives.
The program was exceptionally well attended (even for the first day of hunting season) and expertly moderated by former Delaware Gov. Pete du Pont, who described how he cut taxes, spending, and regulation in Delaware to create a thriving economy.
I spoke, of course, about free-market ideas and the coming revolution in consumer-driven health care. Jeff and I agreed on many things, especially the importance of market-based solutions – as did leaders like Reps. Frank Mazur and Tom Koch, who is leading the charge for vouchers to give Medicaid patients more choice and control over their health care.
But, needless to say, not everyone agreed. Entrenched politicians in the audience just couldn’t imagine how people could make their own choices in the bewildering health care system and believe that government simply must retain control.
Then up at 4:30 on Sunday morning to get back to Washington ahead of a major ice storm that froze New England.
Then to New York City: James Higgins and Mallory Factor are bravely setting up a new group called the “Center-Right Coalition” to inject free-market ideas into, of all places, Manhattan. They hold regular meetings, modeled after Grover Norquist’s famous Wednesday group, to exchange information on problems and possibilities for conservative ideas. They have their work cut out for them with Mayor Bloomberg calling for a 25% property tax increase.
Get this: In Manhattan, the musicians are threatening to strike and close down Broadway because the theaters don’t want to pay them for plays where NO MUSIC is played! Twelve musicians have in their contract that they will be paid even if the play isn’t a musical. That’s what they’re facing in liberal New York.
At the meeting, I gave an overview of the election results from the health care perspective: Candidates in competitive races in which health care was an issue fared very well when they talked about free-market ideas. Then Grover gave a terrific overview of the elections at large, describing broad and deep conservative victories.
From Vermont and Manhattan?
?we tackle Britain: Liam Fox, a member of parliament from the United Kingdom and Shadow Health Secretary, discussed at a dinner at the Century Club in New York a new project he is creating called the “Atlantic Bridge.” It’s a campaign to re-establish the “extensive personal and professional ties, underpinned by a shared political philosophy” that characterized the special relations between the United States and Britain during the Thatcher/Reagan era.
Dr. Fox is an extraordinarily bright light advocating free-market ideas in a country that is increasingly resigning itself to government-dominance, high taxes, and losses of personal liberty – including a frightening new initiative to curtail the right to a trial by jury. The Heritage Foundation hosted another lunch for Dr. Fox on Wednesday in Washington to give him further inspiration to press on.
So, clearly, the battles continue. We win some, and we have some more to win.
Health Policy Matters will take a break next week for Thanksgiving, then we’ll look for you again in December. Happy Thanksgiving.