Monday, March 22, 2010

A Few Thoughts on Obamacare

I see a lot of despair among those on the right, and it's hard not to join in.  Despair can feel good, it's optimism that requires hard work.  But unfounded optimism is just stupid.  That said, I'm optimistic on the whole about this whole thing.  To save a lot of space and time, here's a link to a great NRO editorial that sums up a lot of what I've been saying since last year about Obamacare.

Let me add some things that NRO did not say.

This isn't full Obamacare, this is the preliminary.  While the subsidies create a de facto socialized medical system, a genuine socialized system a la the NHS in the UK has not yet been created.  It's no secret that what the Democrats are trying to do is bankrupt the insurance industry in this country, leaving the government to step in and take its place.  Despite the sound bites Obama and Pelosi create saying that there is no government takeover of health care, you can keep your doctor and health plan if you like it, won't cost a dime, etc., they know very well that isn't true.  That is the BS that it intended to fool the great unwashed, nobody seriously believes it.  When you see somebody bringing luggage out to the driveway, and getting all of the junk out of their car, it's not hard to see that somebody is about to take a trip.

So we haven't reached the alleged point of no return.  This is all still very fixable.

Which brings me to my next point, the common complaint that this will create a welfare state we will never be able to get rid of.

First, we already have a welfare state.  Don't know if you knew that.  Well, we do.  Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, about a jillion other programs, most of which you've never heard of, at the Federal, State, County, and City level.  It's a Frankenstein's monster of a welfare state, and nobody would purposefully design the welfare state from scratch that we have in this country.  Other countries have a much more unified, rigidly cost-contained welfare system.

Second, of course this is fixable.  This isn't like the New Deal, or the Great Society of the LBJ era, or the Civil Rights Act, all of which were quite popular at the time and won handily in the House and Senate by large margins.  Even the invasion of Iraq had broader support, both among voters and among politicians, than this.  This was a back-room, bribe-filled, passed-by-the-skin-of-their-teeth, hodge-podge of things that nobody really wants except for the far left who want to bankrupt the insurance industry so the government can take over as middle-man between consumers and health care providers.

Even on the far-left message boards they are complaining about this bill, saying nobody really wants it.  It has a two-fold purpose:  So Obama can say he won his historic fight to get health care reform, and so that the insurance industry can be quickly bankrupted and then nationalized.

It is not unprecedented for major new government programs to flop badly and be repealed.  Nixon's wage and price controls scheme is a good example.  This will be another one.  This bill IN NO WAY addresses the real problems that are driving health care costs higher every year, in fact it exacerbates them.  The NRO article summarizes pretty well what's going to happen over the next five or so years, assuming all of this passes into law and survives the numerous court challenges it will face from day one.  To say nothing of the devastation this will do to the job market.

My only worry is that we will have to wait until 2012 for a full repeal, and things could truly get nasty by then.  Depression-era unemployment levels would not surprise me.

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