Sadly, the actions of politicians in Washington are often more about ripping off the public to benefit a handful of well-connected and extremely wealthy donors while having little to do with any form of actual ideology or governing philosophy. In fact, nearly identical schemes to enrich large corporations at the expense of the public are used by both parties. The parties then take turns pretending this policy design is an outrage against conservatism or liberalism.
We saw this with health care reform. The basic scheme of directly providing people with insurance through the government was jettisoned and politicians created subsidized exchanges, forcing people to get coverage through unnecessary private insurance company middlemen, adding very large and wasteful additional costs.
Democrats shared near unanimous opposition to George W. Bush’s Medicare Part D because it lacked direct Medicare drug price negotiation, i.e., a government-run option on the Medicare Part D exchange. This was an unacceptable outrage to the “liberals” in Congress.
Of course the Democrats’ recent health care law uses the same scheme of subsidies to purely private exchanges without a government-run option. Instead of fixing the outrageous design of Medicare Part D, they went out of their way to promise PhRMA they would break the campaign promise to reform it. Despite the plan being nearly identical in design to Bush’s Medicare Part D, the Republicans declared the health bill an unacceptable outrage of unconstitutional socialism.
Two nearly identical policy designs both resulted in using terribly unnecessary Rube Goldberg contrivances of needless middlemen to ensure billions of the public’s money went to enrich several well-connected large corporations. These policy schemes were either hailed as victories for compassionate conservatives or liberals, or opposed as affronts to conservatism or liberalism.
While stated ideology doesn’t often serve as a proper indicator of policy, it does have a big impact on messaging when the true objective is huge corporate giveaways. In two upcoming one-act plays, I provide an example of corporatist Republicans and corporatist Democrats applying their supposed ideology to justify using the government to help well-connected companies make huge profits at the public’s expense.