Category C Liberalism

Paul Glastris | Washington Monthly | October 24, 2013

Like Ed and Kevin Drum I found Mike Konczal’s post about how the problems with might reflect competing visions of liberalism interesting and wanted to expand on it.

To oversimplify just a bit, Mike’s argument is that the website “glitches” we’re seeing are rooted not so much in mishandled software contracts but political philosophy. The structure of Obamacare, he says, reflects a “neo-liberal” paradigm which sees government social insurance as best provided by private entities, administered by the states, heavily means tested, and crafted to maximize consumer choice. He calls this “Category A” social insurance, in contrast to New Deal/Great Society-type “Category B” programs that are universal in nature, compulsory rather than voluntary, and delivered directly by the federal government. The latter programs tend to be simpler, better-administered, more cost-effective, and popular; the former more complex, error-prone, and frustrating to use.