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Tuesday, December 6, 2016
Don’t Let Democrats Define The Obamacare Debate
Don’t Let Democrats Define The Obamacare Debate
The Federalist - Tuesday December 6, 2016
by David Harsanyi
Obamacare is one of the great political disasters in recent American history. It is partly responsible for the wide-ranging loses of the Democratic Party over four consecutive elections, not to mention a fraying of the political order. You wouldn’t know this if you only listened to liberals, who are still trying to dictate the contours of the debate.,
Jeez. In the lead-up to the passage of Obamacare, the entire Left kept referring to a bill that blew up the health-care system as “reform.” The word “reform” is a satisfying one. It means to make changes in (something) in order to improve it. You’ll notice that every policy Democrats propose is a reform. Wall Street reform. Energy reform. Liberals never “gut” markets. Or “repeal” existing law. Or “dismantle” anything. Or restrict “choices.” They reform stuff.
But if the health-care system was “placing an unsustainable burden on taxpayers” back in 2009, what is it doing now? “We can’t wait.” Obamacare has inhibited competition, abet cronyism, and helped drive up premiums. Something must be done, even if Republicans decide to go at it unilaterally and circumvent the obstructionist party with parliamentary tricks.
It’s curious, though, how rarely media uses the term reform when Republicans propose significant changes to existing law. Government programs are treated, in tone and focus, as if they were a part of nature; some inevitable, evolutionary marker of progress. According to media, Republicans aren’t going to reform health-care insurance or Medicare as much as they intend to “dramatically overhaul,” or “slash,” or the worst possible thing ever, “privatize” it.
The latter is, of course, a half-truth the media constantly repeats, a liberal phrasing of what happens when you offer consumers a choice within a (formerly) coerced state-run program. There’s a stronger case that Obamacare socialized health care than there is that Republicans will “privatize” Medicare (not that there’s anything wrong with the latter). Rather than stripping something from Americans, a private option offers them a new option. While Democrats support fake choices in Obamacare and oppose real choices in Medicare, you rarely note this while reading our vaunted non-fake news outlets.
Whether a President Donald Trump goes for reform or not, Democrats’ histrionic rhetoric about the GOP’s radicalism on Medicare (here, here, here, and so on) and Obamacare simply doesn’t comport with reality. Especially when you consider that the Affordable Care Act was perhaps the most radical national reform ever passed. For the first time ever, every American was mandated to purchase a product in a private market — if you can refer to the virtual monopolies they created in those states as markets — and punished for failing to participate.
When Democrats passed ACA without half the country’s input (they only negotiated in good faith with their own moderates) using reconciliation, they departed from the long-held “norms” of policymaking. And let’s remember the subsequent coercion and social engineering in the bill, including attacks on religious freedom.
What Republicans are proposing on entitlement reform or health care, although we have yet to see it all, are far less “radical” than Obamacare. It’s true that Republicans will have to figure out what to do about the unfunded welfare programs Obamacare created — what Democrats and their allies euphemistically refer to as “subsidies” and “exchanges.” Attempting to mitigate the need for this aid with more market choice would be a good place to start.
Although less explicit, this skeptical tone is imbued in most mainstream coverage. Where is your replacement!? they keep incredulously asking, as if health-care reform needs to be functionally and conceptually exactly like Obamacare. This is the default position of basically everyone covering the issue. As if history started in 2009. As if no one ever had health insurance before Obamacare launched its website. As if only massive federal reform could possible work.
For years, the Left mocked and belittled efforts to repeal Obamacare as nothing more than conservatives feeding their base’s anger. Now Democrats have nothing to offer but a reclamation project teeming with failed promises. Their position is to fix it. The GOP can offer something different.
It can offer far less on a federal level, it can be passed in stages (Politico reports that the GOP is coalescing around a multi-year repeal strategy that would allow time for replacement plans) and it can be localized. Health care reform can be lot of things, but it will need to move forward. Failing to reform — so many people in the Senate and House won their seats thanks to the Affordable Care Act — would be a true disaster for Republicans. And the rest of us.