Avik Roy Is a Very Smart Man

He knows that it is not enough for the Republican party to pledge to repeal Obamacare–the GOP has to have something better than Obamacare to offer the American people. So, Roy has come up with what he believes to be something better:

Imagine this scenario: The Republican presidential contenders spend 2015 and 2016 competing with each other to see who can denounce Obamacare—and pledge to repeal it—in the most full-throated terms. If you thought Mitt Romney’s “self-deportation” comment was bad in 2012, wait until Hillary runs ads aimed at the tens of millions of voters whose health coverage would be disrupted by repeal.

Republicans aren’t stupid. They know that repealing Obamacare will be a tough political sell outside the conservative base. But they’re stuck between a rock and a hard place. Failing to repeal the Affordable Care Act, they believe, doesn’t just mean they’ll run afoul of the Tea Party. It means that they will have accepted the permanence of Big Government, of European-style welfare statism.

It turns out that this isn’t true. Conservatives don’t have to repeal Obamacare in order to advance their principles. Indeed, it’s actually possible to take advantage of one of the law’s core provisions—its tax credits for the purchase of private coverage—to reform America’s entire health-entitlement behemoth, and to finally put the country on a fiscally stable trajectory.

Rep. Paul Ryan’s proposal to reform Medicare—giving future retirees “premium support” subsidies to shop for private health insurance—is, in fact, quite similar to Obamacare’s usage of “premium assistance” tax credits to offer coverage to the uninsured. So what if we used Obamacare to reform Medicaid and Medicare, by gradually migrating future retirees and Medicaid recipients onto a reformed version of Obamacare’s exchanges?

I ran the numbers. In a new white paper published by the Manhattan Institute, we estimate that, by 2023, this approach could reduce the deficit by more than $8 trillion over three decades, while also reducing taxes. That’s more than enough in savings to make the Medicare trust fund permanently solvent. Not solvent for another six or eight or 12 years—but forever.

Read the whole thing. Roy’s plan is worthy of having its tires kicked and its merits debated. And if it stands up to scrutiny, the Republican party should adopt Roy’s plan as its answer to Obamacare, and campaign on it–both this year, and in 2016. And after elections are won by campaigning on behalf of something better than Obamacare, Republicans should go about showing that they are worthy of the public trust by actually passing something better than Obamacare through Congress, and making it law.