Jindalcare’s Failure Of Imagination

Douthat pans the healthcare proposal announced last week by the Louisiana governor:

The Jindal theory, that the right shouldn’t bother competing with liberals on certain policy fronts because they’ll always be outbid, is generally problematic (why does his proposal have any coverage expansion, then?) but it’s a particularly odd idea to embrace in a case where the liberal program may not, as even its defenders allow, actually end up delivering the scale of coverage expansion that was expected.

By which I mean that if the current enrollment trends persist, there is a good chance that some version of a more catastrophic-focused reform could actually enroll somewhat more Americans in some kind of basic coverage than Obamacare, at a substantially lower cost. (A preliminary private score of the Senate Republican bill suggested it could get slightly higher coverage numbers, and that was — I believe — using the C.B.O. projections for Obamacare, which may turn out to have been too high.) Which in turn would offer Republicans an opportunity to effectively outbid the Democrats on enrollment while significantly underbidding them on spending.

Chait also tackles Jindal’s plan:

The only unique element of Jindal’s plan is a $100 billion grant program (over the next decade)  to states to “come up with insurance reforms and other solutions that can stem the rising tide of health costs.”

Is $100 billion a lot of money? No, it is not. It’s 1/20th the size of the coverage provisions in Obamacare. It could finance coverage for no more than a token few. The role the $100 billion plays is a kind of magic wand that allows Jindal to pretend that states will come up with some kind of solution to all our problems at a cost of 0.2 percent of the federal budget (my figure, arrived at by dividing $100 billion by the projected $47 trillion in federal outlays over the next decade).

Jindal, trying to maintain his wonk credibility, presents his hand-waving, kill-’em-all-and-let-the-states-sort-’em-out gesture as a detailed proposal