Rich Tucker

It’s one of the biggest myths in Washington, a powerful idea that hangs around year in and year out no matter how hard we try to kill it. It’s the claim that liberals offer ideas and conservatives merely oppose them.

Even the brightest conservatives can fall for it. “Republicans have to join the battle of ideas,” Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal wrote recently in The Washington Post. Jindal went on to outline 10 conservative ideas for health care reform.

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But he’s incorrect to say conservatives have yet to “join” the battle of ideas. In fact, we’ve been mostly going at it unopposed.

Consider health care, the hot topic these days. Conservatives favor expanding competition by allowing insurance plans to compete across state lines. We favor policies to give individuals more control of their health spending. And we support ending federal tax breaks, so individuals can buy health insurance as they buy auto, life and homeowners insurance.

What’s the liberal response? Create a massive new entitlement that would, eventually, lead to a single-payer system.

“We’re looking at the possibility of universal health care by about 2010,” New York Times columnist and economics professor Paul Krugman announced on the TV show “Democracy Now!” two years ago. Discussing the plans floated by then-presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, Krugman added they, “are not single-payer, but they can evolve into single-payer,” an outcome that would lead to something such as Medicare, which Krugman calls “the cheapest, most efficient plan.”

Is it?

“The fact is that, in recent years, Medicare administrative costs per beneficiary have substantially exceeded those costs for the private sector. This despite the fact that, as critics note, private insurance is subject to many expenses not incurred by Medicare,” wrote industry expert Robert Book in a paper from The Heritage Foundation. “Moving millions of Americans from private insurance to a Medicare-like program will result in program administrative costs that are higher per person and higher, not lower, for the nation as a whole.”

Another reason Medicare seems more efficient is that it doesn’t spend much time or money cracking down on fraud. Instead, it just shells out for fraudulent claims it never determines to be fraudulent.

Rich Tucker

Rich Tucker is a communications professional and a columnist for