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Jeb Bush Joins the Cruz Bashers -- Suggests Surrender as 'Common Ground'

Conservatives trying to stop Obamacare want to prevent these things from happening. Beltway pols might have perceived the very partial government shutdown as a crisis; but to conservatives, Obamacare is the crisis. We resist because if Obamacare is allowed to take root, it will be years before repeal can conceivably occur – in the unlikely event Republicans are both able and inclined to repeal at some future point. In the interim, irreparable harm will be done. That harm is precisely what millions of conservatives elected self-proclaimed anti-Obamacare Republicans to Congress to avoid.

Jeb Bush, to the contrary, says let Obamcare happen. Why? So Republicans can exploit the inevitable pain to win the political argument on repeal – which repeal, he neglects to mention, would happen, at best, at least four years from now, and more likely six or more.

That’s it. That’s the “civil” approach. “We need to start solving problems” by letting the problems happen. We need to find “common ground” by restraining conservatives and ceding all the ground to statists. Sure, the result will wreak havoc on people’s lives, but at least it will be “organic.”

While blasting conservatives who staked out a clear, accountable position that Obamacare has to be stopped now, Bush, like most of the Republican establishment, was vaporous in outlining his own purportedly better strategy:

I think the best way to repeal Obamacare is to have an alternative. We never hear the alternative. We can do this at a much lower cost with improved quality based on our principles, free-market principles.

All right, so what’s Jeb Bush’s alternative? He didn’t say – it’s apparently one of those alternatives “we never hear.” Just some pabulum about doing “this” (presumably, a Washington-driven expansion of health insurance coverage) in some undescribed smarter, less centrally controlled way.

In his few public statements about it, Bush has been mildly critical of Obamacare for its emphasis on access to, rather than the quality of, health care. He said Obamacare compared unfavorably to proposals advanced by Sen. John McCain in the 2008 election to “reward [people] when they make choices that improve health-care outcomes.” To be sure, McCain’s overall health-care platform was superior to Obama’s. Still, it maintained a significant federal government role. More to the point, the Heritage Foundation rightly worried that McCain’s “improve quality” initiatives “could easily become avenues for imposing increasingly prescriptive federal regulation, duplicating existing state regulation, and further undermining personal freedom in health care decisions.”

Beyond the “quality versus access” distinction, Bush has mostly been hard to pin down on health care reform. As the Left-wing Think Progress noted earlier this year, the former governor is said to oppose Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion privately, but he has declined to take a public position on it and, more specifically, on the decision by Florida’s current governor, Republican Rick Scott, to embrace Medicaid expansion. When pressed on the matter by NBC News, Bush said he had been too busy on other things to familiarize himself with “the specifics.”

Jeb Bush has not been in public office for a few years, and the 2016 campaign is still over the horizon. No one should begrudge him the absence of a developed position on what the central government’s role in our health-care system should be. If he is going to criticize the elected officials putting themselves on the line to make the fight against Obamacare, however, he should offer more than risible blather about “common ground.” And he might think about cobbling together something better than a strategy that offers misery now with no realistic prospect of reversing Obamacare for years to come … all the while, finger-wagging about “alternative” reforms without actually offering one.