How the Heritage Foundation has Fallen

Once upon a time, the Heritage Foundation was a genuine think tank, with serious scholars producing serious research. Not any more. The blindly partisan and staggeringly ignorant Jim DeMint is now at the helm and he thinks the alternative to making sure everyone has health insurance is for poor people to just go to the emergency room:

DeMint said opponents don’t have much time to try to make changes to the law before a March 2014 deadline for people to enroll. Benefits will kick in Jan. 1 for those who enroll earlier.

“This might be that last off-ramp to stop Obamacare before it becomes more enmeshed in our culture,” he said. “This is not about getting better health care.”

DeMint said uninsured Americans “will get better health care just going to the emergency room.”

Really? Did you say that with a straight face? They’ll get better health care if they don’t have insurance and can’t get routine preventive care or see a doctor for treatment before becoming acutely ill, forcing them to go to the emergency room where the costs are far higher and, due to their inability to pay, will then be passed on as higher costs to all of us? That’s a serious argument? As ThinkProgress points out, the Heritage Foundation once was more sensible than this and strongly supported universal access to health insurance:

The claim may be a standard line for today’s Republicans, but it is a stark departure for DeMint and the think tank he now leads. In 1989, the Heritage Foundation was at the forefront of advocating for a requirement to purchase coverage through as system of regulated health care marketplaces, the very centerpiece of Obama’s health care reform, and later lobbied Congressional Republicans to offer the initiative as an alternative to President Bill Clinton’s health proposal.

More than a decade later, Heritage boosted former Gov. Mitt Romney’s (R-MA) health reform law and the individual mandate included in it, describing the requirement as “one that is clearly consistent with conservative values.” A Heritage health care analyst said Romney’s proposal would reform the state’s “uncompensated-care payment system,” force residents to take “personal responsibility” for their health care and prevent them from simply showing up “in emergency rooms.”

Indeed, DeMint himself backed the effort when he endorsed Romney for president in 2008.

“That’s something that I think we should do for the whole country,” DeMint told Fox News. “And the governor just looked at the numbers like a good businessman and realized that we could give people private insurance policies cheaper than we could provide free health care.”

To be fair, though, that was when the idea was being proposed by people who weren’t Democrats. Or black.

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  • More proof at just how far to the hard right we have moved as a country: today’s Democrats are pushing plans and policies that the Republicans of the 80s pushed, and today’s Republicans are screaming that the plans and policies of today’s Democrats are socialism at its very worst.

  • This is not about getting better health care.” ~ Jim Demint

    Jim speaks the truth, though not in the way he thinks he does.


    “To be fair, though, that was when the idea was being proposed by people who weren’t Democrats. Or black.”

    To be fairer that idea was only adopted and presented by the GOP when they had to appear as though they had their own plan while they were trying to poison Hilarycare. Once that round of healthcare reform was stopped in its tracks, they quietly dropped it (and most of their other ideas). I mean they tried to bring it in, but accidentally cut taxes and invaded Iraq instead.


    Yes, they backed Romneycare. Because they’re the Party of Ideas. Also, because it was election season and the Other Tribe had its own ideas and the GOP couldn’t appear to be the empty room it is*.


    They’ll go back to being for something once there’s no chance of anything. But only then. Until such time, they’re against everything.


    * “No books?”


    “Oh. Kind of empty. What’s in those those two boxes over there?”

    “Those are a box of spite and a box of money from the US Chamber of Commerce. It’s all we need.”

  • dogmeat

    The party of ideas latest idea:


    I keep explaining to my friends who are cognitively disa… Republicans, that “NO!!!!” isn’t a policy position, you have to actually have a solution to a problem to call it a “debate.”

  • Doug Little

    We don’t have a clue but that’s not the way to do it. Vote Republican 2016.

  • dean

    Or black.

    For the tea baggers (sorry, they prefer Tea Party members) around Kalamazoo this is the key issue.

  • D. C. Sessions

    “NO!!!!” isn’t a policy position

    Explain that to a two-year-old and get back to us.

  • Once upon a time, the Heritage Foundation was a genuine think tank

    Are you sure about that? It must have been long, long ago.

  • tubi

    To be fair, though, that was when the idea was being proposed by people who weren’t Democrats. Or black.

    Er, “Negrocrats”?

  • Once upon a time, the Heritage Foundation was a genuine think tank, with serious scholars producing serious research.

    No it wasn’t.

  • This is indicative of the right as a whole–time was, that that which we now call ‘Obamacare’ was one of the Republicans’ best ideas, and an actual alternative to the Democrats’ plan that wasn’t sheer nihilism or obstructionism (though one can argue if they really meant to implement it, but at least they had an actual opposing plan). Nowadays … yeesh. Better care at the emergency room. Costing thousands of dollars and creating massive delays for people who actually need emergency care. It would be mind-bogglingly, if they had minds.

  • exdrone

    If DeMint is serious about defunding Obamacare, he should try defunding The Heritage Foundation as an experiment. He can get back to us in a few year to tell us how it’s going.

  • I agree with #2, snark and all. Conservatives are not at all interested in health care reform, or if they are, they are only interested in policies friendly to the interests of providers and insurance companies, and against the interests of consumers.

    Conservatives thus come up with their own versions of health care reform only when it looks like the Democrats might pass even more liberal reform because of widespread public support. When the danger passes, they quickly scrap their erstwhile proposals in favor of the status quo.

  • spamamander, internet amphibian

    Ooook, so it’s way more fiscally responsible for me to end up with a $4500 ER bill because I don’t have health insurance (I was kicked by my horse, thankfully nothing broken, but since he hit my belly I needed to make sure everything was ok on the inside) than it would be for me to have access to affordable health care. Really making it better is the fact they saw a shadow on the CAT scan that could be a tumor. Or it could have been stool. Either way, I DON’T KNOW what it was because I can’t afford an MRI. So if I eventually were to become too sick to work and end up on medicaid and food stamps etc, that would be cheaper and better than me having insurance to diagnose… my head hurts.

  • Nick Gotts

    Once upon a time, the Heritage Foundation was a genuine think tank, with serious scholars producing serious research.

    No, they were always a bunch of murderous, lying scumbags. They were prominent in support for the Nicaraguan Contras, Savimbi’s UNITA and other gangs of right-wing terrorists and torturers. They were cheerleaders for the 1970s attack on detente – based on the lie that the USSR was much stronger militarily than the CIA said, and they opposed controls on CFCs, an example of anti-scientific denialism that would have been truly disastrous if they had succeeded (on these points, see Orestes and Conway Merchants of Doubt). They have consistently opposed action to limit anthropogenic climate change.