For an example of what I’m talking about with regards to dumb-as-a-post Representative Mike Pence, watch his answer to the question of what kind of compromise he would propose for health reform:
“Well, look, you know, I was, uh, yeah, yeah, look, uh”
Pence then pivoted away from addressing the issue to a kind of stammering evocation of the idea that the health insurance industry should be completely deregulated under the guise of allowing you to buy insurance across state lines. This, of course, is just a longstanding conservative proposal and not an idea for a compromise. It’s not “if the president would agree to x and y then I’d give him a and b.” On the subject of compromise what he has to offer is “well, look, you know, I was, uh, yeah, yeah, look, uh.”
Unfortunately, Chris Matthews didn’t seem to have the policy chops to dig deeper with Pence on the insurance regulation issue. But this is the point. Right now, health insurance is regulated at the state level. That means that if you want to sell insurance in California, you need to develop an insurance policy that’s compliant with California’s insurance regulations. It might be a better idea to instead regulate health insurance at the federal level, and say that if you want to sell insurance in the United States of America you need to develop an insurance policy that’s complaint with America’s insurance regulations.
Pence’s proposal, however, is that one revenue-hungry state should cut a deal with insurers—move your headquarters’ to Sioux Falls (or just bribe enough state legislators) and we’ll let your lobbyists write whatever lax regulations you like. Then next thing you know everyone is “allowed” to buy this unregulated South Dakota health insurance and no other kind of insurance policies are available. This is what’s been done with the credit card industry and it’s the model that Pence wants to extent to health insurance. Although I doubt he actually wants this to happen, most likely he doesn’t understand the issue at all, and just heard this talking point from a guy who heard it from a guy who got it from a lobbyist who got it from Newt Gingrich 20 years ago.