Responding to Ross Douthat's proposition that conservatives' real opposition to Obamacare stems from their fear that it will drive out innovation, Beutler smashes him to smithereens:
In the real world, the broader right’s problem with Obamacare (and single payer and national health care) is that it taxes the rich to subsidize the poor and middle-class. Where the right runs into trouble with just coming out and saying it is that in a system like Obamacare, the benefits and beneficiaries aren’t easy to pigeonhole or dismiss. It’s not just a system for the underclass, but also for people who are sick and people who want to take economic risks but have families and are thus indentured at unfulfilling jobs.
This problem doesn’t exist with less kludgy but more targeted programs like food stamps. And thus the conservative campaign against food stamps is very telling. There’s really no denying that food stamps “work,” in the sense that they actually allow poor people to eat food and thus prevent millions from going hungry. You can quibble with the design of the program, perhaps, but not with the fact that for all the poverty in America, there isn’t a rash of poor people starving to death.
But conservatives want to cut food stamps by billions and billions of dollars. Because they think it’s unfair to tax job creators to subsidize losers.
That’s the nub of it when it comes to Obamacare too. And it’s why the right and the left will find it impossible to reach some kind of health care accord in the future if for some reason it becomes imperative to scrap the existing system. I don’t think the issue is that the liberals are hyper-invested in any particular “brand” of health care financing. But they’re not going to trade away parts of the system that protect vulnerable people unless the things that replace it provide a similar level of welfare.
And conservatives just hate that with a passion. They honestly believe that anything that helps people (they don't like) is stealing from them. Things that help them (or people they like) are "earned." That's just who they are. Conservative "wonks" who believe their fellow travelers are having sophisticated internal dialogs about the best way to provide public services while preserving American ingenuity in the private sector need to join the New Democrats. They're the only ones who still think along those lines.