9:20 AM 10/11/2013
W. James Antle III
Obamacare’s roll-out has been such a debacle that even the president’s largest cheering section can’t helpbut take notice.
“Media outlets have struggled to find anyone who’s actually been successful,” CBS News reported. “The Washington Post even illustrated that sought-after person as a unicorn, and USA Today called the launch an “inexcusable mess” and a “nightmare.”
“It wasn’t designed well, it wasn’t implemented well, and it looks like nobody tested it,” a programmer who supports the health care law told the network, adding, “I would be ashamed and embarrassed if my organization delivered something like that.”
The most famous example of someone who actually successfully navigated the website turned out to have never purchased health insurance through it. “I saw so many numbers in one night, I was tired,” he explained.
For Obamacare’s most dogged supporters, there can be only one logical explanation. Cue the Beastie Boys: it’s sabotage.
Liberal groups were taking this line long before the 404 errors started popping up, churning out lists like “Five major ways that Republicans are trying to sabotage Obamacare.”
It’s a variant of one of the most annoying arguments of the last five years: Republicans just want Barack Obama to fail.
Rush Limbaugh wants him to fail. Mitch McConnell wanted him to be a one-term president. Now Republicans are frantically trying to stop Obamacare, because they know its awesomeness will help millions of people, exposing the country to a Democratic president’s benevolence and wisdom.
This is a childish way of looking at political disagreements. There was scarcely a Democratic elected official in the country who wanted to see George W. Bush re-elected. I think we can say with confidence that position was etched in stone pretty much from the moment Bush v. Gore was handed down.
John Kerry even joked about the need for “regime change” in the United States. Kerry was as successful at securing that regime change as he has so far been in Syria, so perhaps this was a harbinger of what he would be like as secretary of state.
Most Democrats didn’t like Bush’s tax cuts and many wanted to repeal them, especially for the upper earners. This was the case even though the Bush tax cuts, unlike Obamacare, were set to expire.
Did they simply want the Bush administration and the Bush tax cuts to fail out of spite? Did they want to keep millions of Americans from retaining more of their hard-earned money? Or did they simply want to prevent what they believed to be bad policies?
I’m sure many of these liberals felt a twinge of discomfort when the economy briefly posted its fastest growth in 20 years after the tax cuts and were to some extent reassured when everything fell apart by 2008. But my guess is most normal people across the political spectrum preferred prosperity to the Great Recession and, whatever their view of George W. Bush, just had different opinions about how to get there.
Republicans are guilty of sabotaging only their own electoral prospects. The Affordable Care Act essentially sabotages itself by asking healthy young workers, already buffeted by the weak economy, to pony up more money in premiums than they would have to pay in fines if they went uninsured.
Many of these young people will have fewer choices and more costs than in the pre-Obamacare individual market. Some will pay more than they otherwise would have even if they end up qualifying for a subsidy. Then there are the workers of all ages who will lose their existing employer-provided coverage, or whose insurers are going to bail on the heavily regulated state exchanges.
Naturally, there will be winners as well as losers of the great Obamacaresweepstakes. Consider Butch Matthews, the celebrated staunch Republican who loves Obamacare. According to ThinkProgress, he is a 61-year-old who lives off the assets he built up. Thanks to Obamacare subsidies, he now has a much better health plan with no monthly premium.
But if younger workers need to pay premiums that are two or three times higher while people who can afford not to work pay nothing, it is going to create some obvious problems.
“If Obamacare becomes the new home of elderly free-riders with savings and no income who are just waiting to go on Medicare,” writes David Freddoso, “then Republicans don’t need to shut down the government or do anything else to stop Obamacare — the program is completely doomed already.”
Unless millions of Americans act against their economic self-interests, the program’s costs will spike. Absent reform, this will then hurt the old and the sick who need the participation of young people to keep their insurance affordable. The implementation of Healthcare.gov may look like Obamacare’s golden age.
For all their faults, the Republicans didn’t build that.
Which brings us back to the Beastie Boys: “You’re scheming on a thing that’s a mirage/I’m trying to tell you now, it’s sabotage.” But the saboteurs and the architects of Obamacare are the same people.
on Oct. 12, 2013 at 7:04 PM