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Why Health Care Challenges Conservatives

While I don’t find Ramesh Ponnuru's overall case for a conservative middle-class agenda convincing, he does highlight one middle-class problem that both parties have given short shrift. He has correctly argued that health-care inflation is not just a source of fiscal woes, but also has deprived middle-class families of real wage increases as more of their compensation has gotten eaten up by health benefits.

The big challenge for conservatives is to take Ponnuru’s point and come up with an agenda that does better than liberals at controlling health-care costs, so families can spend more money on other things. The problem -- and a key reason I think the pro-middle class conservative project is doomed -- is that conservatives’ approach to health care makes this impossible.