Jim DeMint is going to have quite a task at Heritage Fund, if he expects to turn it into an advocate of free markets. They aren't close.
In February, Forbes columnist Avik Roy wrote:
Mitt Romney, as we know, has been catching a lot of flak from conservatives for Romneycare, because Romney’s signature legislative achievement served as the model for Obamacare. But as Romney said in a debate in Las Vegas last October, “we got the idea of an individual mandate…from [Newt Gingrich], and [Newt] got it from the Heritage Foundation.” Politically, it’s an important point, because Romney is inaccurately being portrayed as some kind of left-wing outlier, when in fact there were some major conservative institutions (like Heritage) and figures (like Gingrich) who supported the mandate...in 1989, Stuart Butler of the Heritage Foundation proposed a plan he called “Assuring Affordable Health Care for All Americans.” Stuart’s plan included a provision to “mandate all households to obtain adequate insurance...In October, WSJ's James Taranto provided the insider details:
Heritage did put forward the idea of an individual mandate, though it predated HillaryCare by several years. We know this because we were there: In 1988-90, we were employed at Heritage as a public relations associate (a junior writer and editor), and we wrote at least one press release for a publication touting Heritage's plan for comprehensive legislation to provide universal "quality, affordable health care."
As a junior publicist, we weren't being paid for our personal opinions. But we are now, so you will be the first to know that when we worked at Heritage, we hated the Heritage plan, especially the individual mandate. "Universal health care" was neither already established nor inevitable, and we thought the foundation had made a serious philosophical and strategic error in accepting rather than disputing the left-liberal notion that the provision of "quality, affordable health care" to everyone was a proper role of government. As to the mandate, we remember reading about it and thinking: "I thought we were supposed to be for freedom."Taranto points out that the Heritage mandate was less onerous than the Obamacare one, as it focused on coverage for catastrophic illness, rather than the comprehensive health plans that Obamacare requires. “On the other hand, Butler’s vague language—‘it might also include certain very specific services…and other items’—would seem to leave the door wide open for limitless expansion,” he writes.
It gets worse. Roy comments on Taranto:
In the multi-state Obamacare constitutional challenge before the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, in which the individual mandate was overturned, Taranto points out that the Obama Administration cited the Heritage Foundation in its defense of the individual mandate. Heritage, in response, filed an amicus brief accounting for its “prior support for a qualified mandate” and asserting that Heritage has been “consistent” in its view of the constitutionality of a mandate.So in addition to being supporters of the military-industrial complex, Heritage moves to the side of central planners when it comes to healthcare. This shows a lack of basic economic understanding, or a willingness to overlook such, not a good sign either way and makes clear the difficult, if not impossible task, DeMint has, if he desires to make Heritage consistent in its free market views.
(ht Felix Bronstein)