December 23 2013

Not So Merry ObamaCare Deadline Day

Charlotte Hays

Yes, it’s the day before Christmas Eve, but it is also the deadline to sign up for ObamaCare. Given the public’s reception to his signature achievement, it’s not surprising that our president looks like this.  

A new CNN poll shows that support for the Affordable Care Act is at an all-time low of 35 percent. Interestingly, women, who were supposed to be a bulwark of support, are more opposed than men.

Politico says that the law still “faces stiff political headwinds.” But those aren’t really the headwinds the law faces: it faces the headwinds of reality. Democratic Senator Joe Manchin from West Virginia admits that it is “so much more expensive than what we anticipated.”  “You can’t fix this mess,” says Oklahoma Republican Senator Tom Coburn.

So, unless you are a vulnerable Democratic office holder, it’s the reality of ObamaCare, not the politics, that concerns you.

Michael Barone captures the frame of mind that foisted this ongoing fiasco upon us:  

In retrospect, it’s also plain that the Obama Democrats underestimated the difficulty of creating a workable framework for governance of the health-care sector, which makes up one-sixth of the economy.

They had evidently read too much Arthur Schlesinger on the glories of the New Deal and too little Friedrich Hayek on the futility of central planning in a complex society.

The Affordable Care Act is America’s biggest experiment to date with central planning. Kevin Williamson this morning points out two very important aspects of this experiment: 1.) President Obama’s attempts to salvage ObamaCare are purely political. The president obviously buys into the Politico thesis that it’s mostly political headwinds in his way. 2.) Central planners are never as smart as the market in determining what people want and need. Williamson writes:

Unlike markets, politicians are arbitrary, as is being demonstrated in spectacular fashion by President Barack Obama’s latest on-the-fly amendments to the Affordable Care Act, through which he is handing out exemptions from the individual mandate — a pillar of the program — to those who have had their insurance policies canceled because of the Affordable Care Act.

Which is to say: The president has amended the law in order to prevent the law from being a law that legally does precisely the thing the law was designed by lawmakers to do. This has even the most hard-believing initiates in the presidential cult experiencing a crisis of faith. Imagine the dark night of Ezra Klein’s soul! And it’s even money as to whether Jay Carney ends up in a hairshirt or a straightjacket when he finally cracks….

Those who deplore the element of self-interest in free markets reliably forget the fact that politicians have self-interest, too, meaning that the alternative to having millions or billions of people individually pursuing their self-interest in a free and voluntary fashion is to have a few hundred people — or, in the case of the health-care law, one man — pursue their own self-interest with the force of law at their disposal….

And that is how a law designed to correct the allegedly arbitrary nature of the market instead simply substitutes the obviously and documentably arbitrary preferences of politicians, subjugating the lifelong needs of a few hundred million people to the immediate needs of one man.

The person who most desperately needs ObamaCare to work is a man who has the best insurance (taxpayer) money can buy. This man needs ObamaCare to succeed for two reasons: one is ideological and the other, perhaps even more of a driver, is his ego. I hope that the GOP will be smart enough to emphasize that one man’s ego—and one man’s veto—stand between us and a sane, free-market reform of our healthcare system.

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