Dear Senator Mike Enzi and Heritage Foundation: Shut Up. [updated]

[updated]: As if on cue, Stuart Butler from the Heritage Foundation, has decided to take issue with Sarah Palin’s use of the phrase “death panels.” Butler is defending Ezekiel Emanuel, Rahm’s brother, who has written that we need not guarantee healthcare benefits to people with dementia because they cannot be full participants in the body politic.

Emanuel’s actual quote: “[S]ervices provided to individuals who are irreversibly prevented from being or becoming participating citizens [in the body politic] are not basic and should not be guaranteed. An obvious example is not guaranteeing health services to patients with dementia.”

Butler is defending Emanuel and attacking Palin at the precise moment the Democrats are in full scale retreat on the issue because of Palin’s offensive. Sigh. These guys have the political instincts of amoebas. They cannot afford to hide behind being policy guys. That policy plays hand in hand with politics and political instincts must be brought to bear in this fight. If they cannot or will not, Heritage must shut these guys up before they cause great damage in the fight.


Because I am a big fan and come from a family of donors to the Heritage Foundation, I take no pleasure at all in writing this post. But this must be said.

The Heritage Foundation, which played a vital part in building conservative support for Romneycare in Massachusetts, is setting the stage for Republican capitulation on healthcare. This is the second time in less than a year that Heritage will have been instrumental in organizing a conservative collapse in opposition to big government. The first time was when Heritage gave conservatives cover to support TARP, calling it “vital and acceptable.”

Now with healthcare, because Heritage is trying to be “helpful”, confusion is starting to crop up among Republicans in Congress at a very critical time in the healthcare debate. Capitulation and compromise are now on the table using a bastardized version of a Heritage proposal.

[Editor’s Note: It appears the Hill totally misread or misunderstood Congressman Price and I’m fixing throughout below. CNN has a more accurate description, according to Price’s office, and have made changes below to correct the impression that Congressman Price was supportive of the cooperatives idea.]

Today, Congressman Tom Price rejected the possibility that he would support healthcare cooperatives as a compromise on reform.

Unlike Congressman Price, many on the Hill are following all of Heritage’s talking points. Because I can’t seem to get Heritage to realize just how badly it is about to shoot conservatives in the foot, I must endeavor to get Senator Mike Enzi (R-WY) to shut up.

Congressman Price, in talking about cooperatives,noted that

“The specifics of including a co-op are murky at best,” Price said in a statement. “Patients should be wary of a wolf in sheep’s clothing. A co-op that is simply another name for a public option, or government-run plan, will be rejected by the American people.”

Senator Enzi, on the other hand, is giving full throated support to cooperatives.

Enzi supports health insurance cooperatives, an idea proposed by Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D.

Enzi said they are very similar to the small business health plans he proposed several years ago, which would allow small businesses to pool together across state lines and even nationwide to effectively negotiate for lower insurance costs.

“That is something I am still pushing for,” Enzi said. “Small business health plans are one way of increasing choices. Co-ops will increase choice.

The problem here is two-fold and it comes back to the Heritage Foundation’s healthcare experts attempting to be helpful. By throwing untested cooperatives out as an idea, the Heritage Foundation gave an option to Democrats struggling to keep their “reforms” from sinking.

The Democrats have latched on to cooperatives as their fallback with useful idiots like Enzi on board. After all, Enzi’s logic goes, Heritage likes them so they must be okay and conservative.

But they are not. Why? Because as Congressman Price noted, they are “a wolf in sheep’s clothing.”

Last night on Fox, Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) said any senator voting for the Democrats’ co-op proposal should be voted out of office, regardless of party. He’s right. But I hope he recognizes what has happened because of Heritage.

The Democrat proposal is nothing like what Heritage suggested, just with bits and pieces from Heritage’s proposal thrown in so people like Enzi have something to vote for. But as we’ve already noted at RedState, the co-op proposal right now will not foster competition, it will just insert the government referee into the health insurance business in competition with private insurers. And private business cannot compete with a business run on taxpayer dollars that also gets the set the rules for everyone else to follow.

The Heritage Foundation was instrumental in getting RomneyCare passed in Massachusetts. Because the program had Heritage’s blessing, it gave conservatives cover to support it. The plan is now sinking the Massachusetts budget. Why? Because all legislation is part of a series of compromises. Heritage laid a foundation onto which special interests and others could add heaping piles of dung — all the while with Heritage’s imprimatur on the plan. Now the dung heap that is RomneyCare, as passed by the Democrats in the Massachusetts General Assembly is a stinking, flaming pile of budgetary pooh.

You would think the fine folks working on healthcare at Heritage would have learned their lesson. But they haven’t. They have now waded in with healthcare cooperatives. When Democrats mark up the legislation and alter Heritage’s plan, they can still point to Heritage, comfort people like Mike Enzi, and put us on the road to socialized healthcare.

Even Harry Reid is using the lingo:

“We’re going to have some type of public option, call it ‘co-op’, call it what you want,” Reid said, adding that Democrats are working on “some verison of a co-op that may satisfy everyone.”

Meanwhile, Mike Enzi, the Heritage Foundation, and many, many others will be left trying to explain in sound bite form how not all cooperatives are equal.

So Mike Enzi: shut up. You too Heritage. I value your contribution, but trying to helpful in a debate where it is clear what Democrats really want just sets you up to be used and abused. You should have seen this coming and your judgment must be suspect on this as a result.

Call Mike Enzi today and tell him to oppose healthcare cooperatives. His number is (202) 224-3424. Chuck Grassley, who has also been muddying the waters on co-ops can be reached at (202) 224-3744. Senator Grassley, however, has backed off some of the rhetoric. Thank goodness. Now we need Enzi to do so.

The Heritage Foundation is a profoundly good organization. I have many friends there. I hate to ding them for this. But this must be said. Their continued push for cooperatives at this time muddies water, confuses congressmen, and plays right into the hands of Democrats eager for a new talking point to sell a government healthcare option.