Down Memory Lane: Remember When Liberals Said the VA Was Proof that Socialism Works?

At the Wall Street Journal, James Taranto pulls together liberals’ endorsements of Veterans Administration health care. It goes beyond just claiming that VA medicine was top notch; liberals often claimed that the supposed success of the VA is proof that government is superior to the private sector. Taranto titles his post “Socialist Supermodel.” You should read it all, but here are a few highlights:

[I]n January 2006, … former Enron adviser Paul Krugman wrote this:

I know about a health care system that has been highly successful in containing costs, yet provides excellent care. And the story of this system’s success provides a helpful corrective to anti-government ideology. For the government doesn’t just pay the bills in this system–it runs the hospitals and clinics.

No, I’m not talking about some faraway country. The system in question is our very own Veterans Health Administration, whose success story is one of the best-kept secrets in the American policy debate.

The “secret” of the VA’s “success,” Krugman argued, “is the fact that it’s a universal, integrated system.”
Timothy Noah, then with, proclaimed in 2005: “Socialized medicine has been tried in the United States, and it has proven superior to health care supplied by the private sector. . . . The socialized medicine to which I refer is the complex of hospitals managed by the Veterans Administration.” His post, “The Triumph of Socialized Medicine,” was based on a Washington Monthly article by Phillip Longman, which carried the slightly more modest headline “The Best Care Anywhere.” And in 2009, Ezra Klein revealed that “one of my favorite ideas” is “expanding the Veterans Health Administration to non-veterans.”

Do you suppose these liberals, and others, will acknowledge how wrong they were about the VA, and consider what the implications might be for their government-knows-best philosophy?

Just kidding.

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