Is Obama a Conservative?

To readers of this blog it might seem like an oxymoronic absurdity, but President Obama has claimed a conservative basis for many of his policies. The Heritage Foundation is out with a response:

According to a new poll by the Pew Research Center, public confidence in government is at one of the lowest points in a half century. Pew Research Center president Andrew Kohut writes in today’s Wall Street Journal: “A desire for smaller government is particularly evident since Barack Obama took office.” Last March, by 54% to 37%, more people said it was a good idea for the government to exert more control over the economy. Now, by 51% to 40%, a majority of Americans say they want less government control.

President Obama has always tried to cast himself as a centrist. During the 2008 campaign, he promised Americans he would cut their taxes, expand the military, and enact “a net spending cut” for the federal government. Lower taxes, a strong defense and shrinking the size of government; these are core conservative beliefs. Unfortunately, President Obama has completely abandoned them by raising taxes on lower-income Americans, cutting defense spending, and enacting a $862 billion failed stimulus.

And we haven’t even mentioned the President’s health care plan yet. With polls showing that the President’s health care plan has only gotten less popular since it became law, the White House has been desperate to portray their plan in as centrist a light as possible. So on March 30th, President Obama told “Today” show host Matt Lauer that “a lot of ideas in terms of the exchange, just being able to pool and improve the purchasing power of individuals in the insurance market, that originated from the Heritage Foundation.” Heritage Center for Health Policy Studies director Robert Moffit responds in today’s Washington Post:

The Obama health-care law “builds” on the Heritage health reform model only in the sense that, say, a double-quarter-pounder with cheese “builds” on the idea of a garden salad. Both have lettuce and tomato and may be called food, but the similarities end there.

For us, the health insurance exchange is to be designed by the states. It is conceived as a market mechanism that allows individuals and families to choose among a wide range of health plans and benefit options for those best suited to their personal needs and circumstances. People would have a property right in their health policy, just like auto or homeowners’ policies, and be able to take it with them from job to job.

Under the Heritage design, individuals could choose the health plan they want without losing the tax benefits of employer-sponsored coverage. The exchange we propose would be open to all state residents and — very importantly — be free of federal regulation.

Under the president’s law, however, the congressionally designed exchanges are a tool imposed on the states enabling the federal government to standardize and micromanage health insurance coverage, while administering a vast and unaffordable new entitlement program. This is a vehicle for federal control of state markets, a usurpation of state authority and the suppression of meaningful patient choice. Heritage finds this crushing of state innovation and experimentation repugnant.

This law constitutes a massive alteration of the constitutional balance of power between the federal government and the states, and strikes at the heart of American federalism.

This is not the first time the Obama administration has falsely claimed Heritage Foundation support for its policies. During the 2008 campaign, then-candidate Obama ran a multimillion-dollar television ad falsely claiming that we supported his tax plan. We did not. Then just last month, an Obama Treasury official falsely suggested to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce that we supported the administration’s financial reform plan. We do not.

We understand that the President is frustrated by the fact that the American people soundly reject his push to turn our country into a European social welfare state. But he only undermines his own credibility when he tries to use our good conservative name as cover to support his wildly unpopular policy positions.

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