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Analyzing Republican Logic on Health Care and the Free Market

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By Ben Cohen

For Republicans, the 'free market' rules. They believe that their job as elected officials is to do everything to facilitate the 'free market' in every sphere of public life. Education, health care, infrastructure, even the military are better served when profit is the sole motivation.

The logic goes as follows: The government can do nothing right. It is inherently inefficient because it is not profit driven, and therefore encourages waste and bureaucracy. Anything the federal government can do, the free market can do better.

When it comes to health care, the notion that the free market serves the public best needs no proof. It must do because any other alternative would include government, and government is inherently bad.

It doesn't matter that the World Health Organization ranks the U.S below Morocco, and one place above Slovenia in the quality of its health care. It doesn't matter that the U.S has one of the worst infant mortality rates in the industrialized world (ranking below Cuba, a country much maligned for its socialist approach to health care). It doesn't matter that Americans spend almost double what other industrialized nations spend on health care with dramatically worse results.

For Republicans, the superiority of the free market health care system is self evident.

But the public isn't buying it any more. The days when simply mentioning the 'free market' could win an argument no matter the topic are over. President Obama's pledge to create a public insurance option is calling the ideologues bluff: If the free market is so wonderful, why would they be worried?

If private insurance is the better option, then the government plan will fail. The market rules, and if government can't provide better health care, then it will fail.

Except the evidence shows it won't. Medicaid and Medicaire work very well, and national insurance/single payer systems around the world have phenomenal results compared to the private insurance system in America. Deep down, Republicans and the insurance industry know this, and are deeply concerned that their racket is over.

The truth is that it has never been about the free market - it's simply a giant profit scheme that makes insurance companies rich, and ensures compliant Republicans (and Democrats) get elected. The free market is fine as long as the insiders are making money. When they don't, the government either steps in to bail them out, or steps out to make sure they don't have to compete. But this time, an elected government is doing something that cuts into their bottom line and helps the public, a grievous sin against the ruling elite.

The Republicans and corporate Democrats will fight hard to keep the government out of health care, but their chances are slimming as the public is finally calling Bull Shit.