Yuval Levin Articles

Be Prepared

How to respond if the Court ends Obamacare ­subsidies.
Mar 09, 2015


Few people expect much to happen on health care in the 114th Congress, certainly not President Obama. He plans to continue bending and twisting his interpretation of Obamacare’s many complex provisions as necessary to keep it afloat and to avoid dealing at all with opposition to the law among the public or the Republicans who now run Congress.

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Getting There

How to transition from Obamacare to real health care reform
Sep 22, 2014

Obamacare—or at least the version of it that the president and his advisers currently think they can get away with putting into place—has been upending arrangements and reshuffling the deck in the health system since the beginning of the year. That’s when the new insurance rules, subsidies, and optional state Medicaid expansions went into effect.

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The Obamacare Opportunity

An opening for a genuine alternative.
May 05, 2014

Obamacare’s defenders are doing their best to sustain a triumphant mood these days. In the wake of the late-March surge in exchange enrollment, many proponents of the law have insisted it can no longer be rolled back. As the president put it in his April 1 Mission Accomplished speech announcing the enrollment figures, “The Affordable Care Act is here to stay.”

But just as conservative assertions that the law would collapse of its own weight were premature, so too are today’s liberal proclamations that the debate is over.

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Unwinding Obamacare

Jan 27, 2014

Obamacare is no longer a theoretical proposition. It is now being implemented, if with some notable exceptions for the portions of the law the Obama administration finds particularly inconvenient. Millions of Americans are experiencing its consequences directly, and millions more are forming their opinions of it based on what they are hearing of its effects. Those opinions are generally not positive. The fact that many of the law’s congressional supporters are now running scared for fear of voter backlash is a good indication of how poorly the rollout is going.

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Done Being Born

Israel after Sharon and his generation.
Jan 27, 2014

Although he has, in most respects, been gone from the scene for the better part of a decade, Ariel Sharon’s death this month has nonetheless hit Israel hard. His military career was among the most exemplary in a nation that has seen far more than its share of great warriors. And by the end of his political career (if not at every point throughout it), Sharon was widely respected and admired. The sudden end of his premiership in 2006 left many in Israel with a sense of missed opportunity and unexplored possibility.

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Updating Reagan

Sep 30, 2013

Republicans these days are eager to replay the Reagan revolution. It is not hard to see why: In the 1980s, the GOP was the party of ideas, and the vision that Ronald Reagan and his supporters brought to Washington proved immensely popular with voters and profoundly improved American life. But in their effort to repeat Reagan’s particular policies, rather than his more impressive feat of developing policies that applied conservative principles to the problems of his day, today’s Republicans risk becoming detached from the country’s real concerns.

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Going, Going, Gone

The arguments that justified Obama­care are already being discredited. Here’s how to replace it.
Sep 02, 2013

In the continuing debate over Obamacare, both the law’s champions and its critics are now focused largely on the mechanics of implementation. This is understandable. The insurance exchanges are supposed to launch October 1, most of the law’s other major provisions take effect January 1, and every week seems to bring fresh news of some delay or dysfunction for critics to highlight and defenders to justify or dismiss. 

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The Soft Underbelly of Obama­care

Aug 12, 2013

For opponents of Obamacare, it almost seems like the law offers too many targets to choose from. Its effects on premiums and costs look to be highly unpopular, its perverse incentives are already harming employment, its state exchanges will hand out costly subsidies without the necessary checks against fraud, the promises of its champions—from keeping costs down to keeping the coverage and doctors you have—are proving empty, its lawless implementation is anathema to our system of government, and on and on.

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Small Ball

Why our fiscal debates amount to nothing
Jan 14, 2013

For fiscal hawks of all political stripes, the last two years have been awfully frustrating. Budget politics has been front and center almost constantly, yet we have made almost no progress toward reducing our deficits and debt.

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The Real Debate

The 2012 election is about far more than our pocketbooks.
Oct 08, 2012


Everybody knows that this election is supposed to be all about the economy. Employment, income, growth, and America’s credit rating are too low, while spending, borrowing, deficits, poverty, and gas prices are too high, and voters must decide whether President Obama is responsible for all of that or whether Mitt Romney could do better. Polls certainly suggest that these questions are highest on voters’ minds.

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Medicare Jujitsu

How Romney and Ryan are turning the Democrats’ favorite campaign attack against Obama
Aug 27, 2012

In the wake of Mitt Romney’s selection of Paul Ryan as his running mate, conservatives and liberals seemed almost equally happy. To the right, the pick represented a bold decision to make a forthright case against President Obama’s vision for the country and to champion solutions to the problems that the president has only made worse. Romney had put his party’s best policy thinker and one of its best communicators on his ticket and was raring to make his case to voters.

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More Mediscare

Aug 20, 2012

The oddly convenient academic study has long been a weapon in the Democratic party’s arsenal of election-season demagoguery. Do you need to say that conservative policies would sink the republic? Here’s a paper by scholars from a respected university, published in a respected journal, and released just as your campaign was turning to the issue in question, which happens to say just what you had in mind. It might all fall apart on closer inspection, but in the heat of a campaign it’s a perfect fit.

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Our Age of Anxiety

Romney’s challenge is to address the deep uneasiness in America and point the way to a comeback.
May 28, 2012

There is something very strange about the 2012 presidential race so far. The election comes at a time of extraordinary public unease, which clearly demands some response from the political system, and especially from the men running for the highest office in the land. But the two presidential candidates are both running campaigns oddly detached from what is rightly worrying voters. 

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A Tale of Two Budgets

Paul Ryan draws the contrast Republicans will need this fall.
Apr 02, 2012


Last spring, when House Republicans passed Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan’s ambitious fiscal agenda, it would have been easy to make two basic guesses about the proposal’s lasting impact: On the one hand, it seemed that the budget’s focus on the immense scope of the fiscal calamity heading our way would put the deficit and debt at the center of our politics for the rest of Barack Obama’s term. But on the other hand, it looked like the Medicare proposal in the budget would be highly controversial and politically risky.

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Mind the Gap

The rich get richer and the poor are broken.
Mar 19, 2012

Charles Murray’s profound and important new book has, for the most part, been received as merely the latest volley in the inequality debates. Its champions have tended to praise it for shedding light on overlooked aspects of the gap between rich and poor, while its critics have faulted it for ignoring some elements crucial to any proper understanding of the causes of inequality in America—and especially for paying too little attention to working-class wage stagnation.

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In Praise of the House

Jan 02, 2012

On the night Republicans won control of the House of Representatives in November 2010, John Boehner laid out the new Congress’s key priorities: to restrain the growth of government, cut spending, reform how Congress works, and end the uncertainty in the economy to help get Americans back to work. But then he offered a cautionary note to voters: “While our new majority will serve as your voice in the people’s House, we must remember it is the president who sets the agenda for our government.”

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Grand Old Reform Party

Dec 05, 2011

In 2010, Republicans won control of the House by offering to resist the Obama agenda. But their victory left open the question of whether they would also confront the grave fiscal challenges facing the country, and move beyond mere opposition to present an alternative governing vision to that of the Obama Democrats.

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Liberals Playing to Type

Nov 21, 2011

In April 2008, days after saying that voters in western Pennsylvania were inclined to cling to religion and guns out of bitterness, Senator Barack Obama sat down for an interview with the editorial board of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette to try to fix some of the damage his remark had done to his presidential campaign. With exceptional frankness, he told the paper’s editors that what troubled him most about his off-handed comment was that it risked confirming some damaging stereotypes about liberals—stereotypes rooted in Democratic excesses of the past that the party had been trying mightily to overcome for decades.

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The Medicare Monster

An entitlement problem too big to ignore
Sep 26, 2011


It is gradually dawning on Washington that a meaningful reform of the Medicare program will be unavoidable in the coming years. Medicare is at the center of both our health care dilemma and our fiscal crunch, and it will be very difficult to avoid a calamitous debt crisis without making changes to the program’s basic structure. 

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‘We Don’t Estimate Speeches’

Jul 04, 2011

On June 22, the Congressional Budget Office released its annual “Long-Term Budget Outlook.” To call the document grim would be a grave understatement. It describes a massive wave of debt that threatens very soon to drown us—and that, thanks to the weak economy and the continuing growth of spending, is coming at us very fast.

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Beyond Mediscare

May 30, 2011

Do House Republicans want to kill the elderly? If you listen to the left these days, you’d certainly think so.

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Fight to the Debt

May 23, 2011

Normally in Washington, the agenda for spring and summer is set by the president’s budget and the priorities of congressional leaders. But this year will be different. House Republicans have proposed an ambitious platform, in the form of the budget produced by House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan and passed by the full House last month.

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The Radical Gradualism of Paul Ryan

The status quo is far more ‘extreme’ than the Republican budget
Apr 18, 2011

Late last month, Senator Charles Schumer of New York led a conference call in which Senate Democrats briefed reporters about the ongoing budget battle. At the outset, unaware that his comments were already audible to reporters on the line, Schumer provided some marching orders, advising his colleagues to describe Republican proposals as radical. “I always use the word extreme,” he said. “That’s what the caucus instructed me to use this week.”

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The Central Front

Why health care is the essential issue for 2012.
Apr 04, 2011

Even as they engage in heated battles over the budget and try to define a new agenda from their perch in the House of Representatives, conservatives clearly understand that the key to turning things around​—​to averting a debt crisis and defending the ideal of limited government​—​is winning the 2012 election. Only with a new president can they halt and reverse the leftward leaps of the past few years and address the increasingly dire consequences of six decades of welfare-state expansion.

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