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Tina Dupuy: The group who cried individual mandate

“[The Bush Tax Cuts] produced a more growth-oriented tax policy for the long term, helping the economy to weather current storms arising in the housing and capital markets,” wrote J.D. Foster Ph.D. for the Heritage Foundation’s site under the title “Make the Tax Cuts Permanent.” That was back in June of 2008.

As Dr. Foster was penning that fairy tale, Lehman Brothers had just lost $2.8 billion in the second quarter of 2008. They had already laid off thousands of people. They were weeks away from total collapse. The housing bubble burst before the ink was dry on the Heritage Foundation’s rosy report. Foster wrote, “Tax relief helped to restore robust economic growth following the Clinton recession.”

In short: They were wrong. Really wrong. Outrageously — egregiously — shockingly wrong.

This same billionaire David Koch-affiliated group said in 2001 the Bush Tax Cuts would effectively pay off the federal debt; substantially increase family income; increase personal savings; create more job opportunities.

Seriously, pay off the federal debt. They said that. It’s still on the Internet.

What the unpaid-for Bush Tax Cuts did, along with two wars lobbed onto a credit card is create more debt the Republicans now pretend is a sharknado, bubonic, mandatory abortion, Muslim, science-based, Happy Holidays, minorities-voting, greenhouse-gas-reducing, gay weddings plague.

So as credibility goes — the well-funded Heritage Foundation has very little. And they’re playing a huge well-documented role in the government shutdown. Why? They oppose ObamaCare and want it defunded.

Didn’t they tout the individual mandate starting in 1989? Wasn’t that the conservative alternative to HillaryCare? Isn’t RomneyCare in Massachusetts based on the mandatory private insurance model the Heritage Foundation had been championing for decades?

Yes. Why are they opposed to it now? Hm.

Stuart Butler, a fellow at the Heritage Foundation, in an op-ed last year denied the Heritage Foundation invented ObamaCare: “But the version of the health insurance mandate Heritage and I supported in the 1990s had three critical features. First, it was not primarily intended to push people to obtain protection for their own good, but to protect others. Like auto damage liability insurance required in most states... Second, we sought to induce people to buy coverage primarily through the carrot of a generous health credit or voucher, financed in part by a fundamental reform of the tax treatment of health coverage, rather than by a stick.

“And third, in the legislation we helped craft that ultimately became a preferred alternative to ClintonCare, the ‘mandate’ was actually the loss of certain tax breaks for those not choosing to buy coverage, not a legal requirement.”

So Butler is saying that if ObamaCare was intended to protect others instead of for your own good, he’d support it? Because the other two he lists are in ObamaCare/The ACA: tax incentives and “loss of certain tax breaks” is basically the fine for not having insurance next year.

Is our government really shut down right now because the best think-tank-parsing they can come up with is that the motives for being covered aren’t altruistic?

In a word: Yes.

Tina Dupuy is managing editor of Crooks and Liars. She can be reached at