McCain and the Free Market

Dean Baker is technically correct to say that John McCain "doesn’t support free-market health care," but mostly in the sense that absolutely everyone who supports, even grudgingly, leaving some of the current government health-care funding and regulatory infrastructure in place doesn’t support free-market health care. Moreover, the article he links to doesn’t even claim that McCain supports a purist free-market approach, only that his policy proposals rely more heavily on free-market ideas than that of his competitors (though his announcement of a special Medicaid trust fund to cover people who can’t get insurance due to pre-existing conditions makes that less true). Perhaps most annoying is Baker’s accusation that McCain’s support for drug patents should be a reason to strip the candidate’s free-market credentials. That’s fairly absurd, nearly like saying that anyone who supports police protection of property rights doesn’t really believe in free markets. It’s true that free-marketers have differing views on the scope of patent law and IP protections. And, yes, some even believe that there should be no patents. But it’s hardly settled free-market dogma that patents should not exist, period, and it’s vexing that Baker, who knows better (or ought to), should make such a claim.