Friday, September 04, 2009

Paul Krugman, Nixon, and Health Care Reform

On Monday, Paul Krugman wrote in his New York Times op-ed that the political climate and the tone of the health care reform debate has sunk to such depths that it makes him miss the good old days of Dick Nixon. Hyperbole, to be sure, because much of the trouble of the health care system can be traced back to the days of good old Dick.

In spite of what Nixon might have said in public, his more private thoughts and conversations exemplify the old Republican approach to everything in life: it's all good, if it gives the appearance of fairness and makes corporations more money. See the transcript below.

(Emphasis below added)

President Nixon: “[...] You know I’m not to keen on any of these damn medical programs.”

Ehrlichman: “This, uh, let me, let me tell you how I am …”

President Nixon: [Unclear.]

Ehrlichman: “This … this is a …”

President Nixon: “I don’t [unclear] …”

Ehrlichman: “… private enterprise one.”

President Nixon: “Well, that appeals to me.”

Ehrlichman: “Edgar Kaiser is running his Permanente deal for profit. And the reason that he can … the reason he can do it … I had Edgar Kaiser come in … talk to me about this and I went into it in some depth. All the incentives are toward less medical care, because …”

President Nixon: [Unclear.]

Ehrlichman: “… the less care they give them, the more money they make.”

President Nixon: “Fine.” [Unclear.]

Ehrlichman: [Unclear] “… and the incentives run the right way.”

President Nixon: “Not bad.”

[Source: University of Virginia Check - February 17, 1971, 5:26 pm - 5:53 pm, Oval Office Conversation 450-23. Look for: tape rmn_e450c.]

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