Pence’s confusion knows no bounds

PENCE’S CONFUSION KNOWS NO BOUNDS…. I’m always glad when Matt Yglesias writes about House Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence (R-Ind.). The well deserved repulsion just bleeds through the screen.

Last year, Matt had an item that explained “Mike Pence is a moron, and any movement that would hold the guy up as a hero is bankrupt…. I would refer you to this post from September about the earth-shattering ignorance and stupidity of Mike Pence…. [I]t’s really staggering. In my admittedly brief experience talking to him, his inability to grasp the basic contours of policy question was obvious and overwhelming.”

Today, Matt flags another Pence gem, reminding us that the House GOP Conference Chairman “gives every indication of being genuinely stupid.”

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN: Why can’t we [sell health insurance across state lines]?

MIKE PENCE: Well, it’s really lost on me. I remember having a conversation with former senator Tom Daschle, who was really instrumental in the crafting and passage Obamcare, saying we couldn’t sell insurance across state lines because it would be a “race to the bottom.” Well, I gotta tell you, I think a lot of small business owners out there would like a race to the bottom — on prices.

Even after a lengthy debate on this, Mike Pence still doesn’t have the foggiest idea what he’s talking about. When he says this issue is “really lost on me,” that’s clearly the truth.

We’ve been through this enough times that even a House Republican should be able to understand it. Different states regulate insurers in different ways, with restrictions ranging from strict to weak. As the GOP sees it, the model can and should follow the credit card industry standards — let all the major insurers cluster in one state where the standards are barely existent.

It’s why this idea is generally characterized as promoting a “race to the bottom.” Insurers would be told that they can set up shop in a state and write the rules to the industry’s liking. The industry would go with the state that offered the sweetest deal — which is to say, the worst, weakest, most lax oversight with the fewest restrictions — and before long, it would be consumers’ only choice. Why? Because every major insurer would move to that state, leaving Americans with no other coverage to buy.

The insurance, under this approach, would probably be cheaper. It will also be awful. Pence may not care — you and I already pay for his health insurance and that of his family — and may even see this as preferable to the status quo, but the rest of us would suffer.

In the Affordable Care Act, President Obama offers a better approach, which allows insurers to sell coverage across state lines, just so long as they meet minimum federal standards. It’s these standards that prevent the race to the bottom. When Obama offered this as a compromise a year ago to Republicans, they balked, insisting that minimum standards would mean federal regulations imposed on insurance companies. And we can’t have that because it would mean government looking out for consumers, which is, you know, bad. Or something.

Democrats included the provision in the new law anyway, and insurers in states willing to operate under minimum standards can, in fact, sell coverage across state lines. (When Greta Van Susteren asks why we can’t do this, she apparently doesn’t know what the law says, either.)

Unfortunately for Pence, policy tutoring isn’t covered in any plan, and profound ignorance is considered a pre-existing condition.