Following in the Footsteps of Richard M. Nixon, and Heading Left

Every now and then conservatives when in informal conversation raise the subject of recent presidential administrations: which was the best, the worst, the most liberal, the most conservative, etc.

When the question arises regarding which of our recent presidents was most conservative — or even conservative at all — if Nixon is mentioned, someone invariably says: “wage and price controls.”

These four words tend to end the debate. No conservative could ever support wage and price controls.

I mention this because of the issue of drug importation, which the House of Representatives is expected to vote on this week.

Drug importation is the price control debate of 2003. It is the re-introduction of a debate most thought over — at least on the right — thirty years ago.

Essentially, Members of Congress, some of whom are conservative on other issues, want the U.S. to allow the importation of drugs from nations that have cheaper drugs — cheaper because those other nations have socialistic price controls.

Nixon can’t be called a true conservative president because he supported wage and price controls. He did, however, have one thing going for him today’s advocates of price controls do not: Nixon believed in setting American prices in Washington. Congressional backers of drug importation essentially want them set in Ottawa.

(That’s the best case scenario, by the way. They could be set in Harare.)

Now, its possible that someone will say I’m a liar for saying all this, as nasty accusations seem to be the weapon of choice for some of the folks in the drug reimportation debate. If so, that’s life, but I’ll still be left wondering: if price controls on drugs are such a great idea, why are the backers of drug reimportation wanting to piggyback on Canadian (and other countries’) price controls? Why not push legislation to impose price controls on drugs here in the U.S.?

And why stop with drugs? There are a lot of expensive products out there. Let’s slap price controls on all of them, or at least the products we value most. We’re conservatives. We don’t believe in free enterprise.

The National Center for Public Policy Research is a communications and research foundation supportive of a strong national defense and dedicated to providing free market solutions to today’s public policy problems. We believe that the principles of a free market, individual liberty and personal responsibility provide the greatest hope for meeting the challenges facing America in the 21st century.