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Herman Cain’s (Mostly) Conventional Plan for Health Care Reform

It’s easy to forget, but Herman Cain first became famous in political circles for his wonky takedown of President Bill Clinton at a town hall meeting where the President was touting his universal health-care plan. (Herman Cain walked President Clinton through the math of why Clinton’s plan would drive Godfather’s Pizza out of business.) Today, Republican Presidential candidate Herman Cain spent half an hour with the GOP Congressional Health Care Caucus, where he outlined his proposals for health reform.

As Newsweek put it at the time, Cain was “the real saboteur” of the Clinton plan:

An articulate black entrepreneur, Cain transformed the debate when he challenged Clinton at a town meeting in Kansas City, Mo., last April. Cain asked the president what he was supposed to say to the workers he would have to lay off because of the cost of the “employer mandate.” Clinton responded that there would be plenty of subsidies for small businessmen, but Cain persisted. “Quite honestly, your calculation is inaccurate,” he told the president. “In the competitive marketplace it simply doesn’t work that way.”

The switchboard at Godfather’s was lit up with supportive calls. It was as if the small business community — a very large and politically powerful group — had been told to march on Washington. Cain, said Larry Neal, an aide to Sen. Phil Gramm, “was the lightning rod.”

For better or worse, Cain’s platform effectively represents consensus Republican thinking on health care. This is good, insofar as Cain endorsed repealing Obamacare, Medicaid block grants, etc. But it’s unclear if he proposed anything that would move beyond the meat-and-potatoes of Republican consensus. And there’s a lot more to do with health-care reform than simply repealing Obamacare.

Jason Millman of Politico was at today’s GOP confab for Cain’s address. “Cain said if he had the right numbers in Congress, he would sign legislation repealing health care reform on March 23, 2013 — three years after it was signed into law. A bill by Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.), H.R. 3400, would be the starting point for replacement legislation, he said.”

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