Do You Remember What You Didn't Like about Obamacare?

There must have been something about it that you didn’t like. 

Your vote demonstrated that in November of 2010, just seven months after its enactment, wildly shifting the balance of power in America from Democratic to Republican, though you might not have recognized just how wildly at the time.  “In the nation’s 98 partisan legislative chambers, Republicans almost completely reversed their standing,” according to Rasmussen.  “Heading into the election, Democrats held a 60 to 36 advantage with two chambers [split].  When most legislatures convene new sessions in January [of 2011], Republicans will control 57 chambers, Democrats 39, and again, two will be tied.”

This was an historic rebuke to the Democrats’ federal platform, a platform which was personified by the incredibly unpopular Affordable Care Act which was rammed into American policy via budget reconciliation, and a very-likely infringement upon the Origination Clause of the Constitution. 

This was before your premiums rose to astronomical levels.  Before you lost your employer-sponsored health insurance.  Before you could no longer “keep your doctor,” in spite of the then-president’s promises. 

Again, why did you commit to opposing Obamacare so fervently, way back when? 

Was it because President Obama, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Sen. Harry Reid, et al, stole for the federal government a right to regulate and intercede in the delivery of health services for individual Americans on a day-to-day basis?  And, because they did precisely that, you knew all those other things would happen?

So why, today, is the argument from Republicans not about a pure repeal of the bill?  Why is the argument that we should keep the “good” things about Obamacare, while casting off the “bad?” 

Is this not a continuation of the federal government’s regulation of the health services industry which began with Obamacare?  How does this remove the threat which was the primary motive for our political activation in response to Democrats’ federal overreach in the first place?

Obamacare is the latest and greatest bastardization of our social contract that we call the Constitution.  It was a step toward single-payer, there can be no doubt.  It federally subsidizes care at immense cost to taxpayers.  It transfers wealth via corrupt bureaucratic funneling in Washington from the middle class to the poor, from the healthy to the sick.  It forces insurance companies to take on high-risk clients at capped prices, thereby assuring that prices for lower-risk clients rise to compensate for the additional risk.  This is arbitrary price-fixing, perhaps the greatest anathema to a free market known to economic thought.  (Hence, the premium hikes that millions have experienced, and the insurers which have fled the exchanges.)

The Republican answer to this, according to everything I’ve seen in this new bill, ensures that these same malignant forces will continue to threaten the health services industry, but without the control mechanisms put in place by Obamacare.

It is a fantasy that can only succeed in a fantasy world.  It still allows for the federal government to force insurers to cap prices for high-risk clients, only it doesn’t force the healthy into the risk pool via mandates to participate in health insurance risk-pools to thereby offset the cost.  While the elimination of the individual mandate is a good thing, the price-capping measures of Obamacare (which will generally remain in place) make this is a recipe for insurance companies to perpetually bleed money, leading to more premium hikes in the future. 

This will only lead to more subsidies, as federal regulation generally does.

The simple fact is that our conversation has changed since 2010.  And the reason as to why it’s now about which entitlements to keep rather than the more fundamental argument about federal intrusion to regulate the health services industry is not difficult to discern.  As I noted in 2013:

With each new day passing, with each new provision carefully selected for implementation, Obamacare becomes more and more a staple in American life.  Barack Obama is counting on that.  Because time normalizes even the most malignant social entitlement program.


[H]istory shows that once people start collecting benefits from the government, they want to keep collecting benefits from the government.  Who’s paying for the benefits, and how much they are paying at any given time after an entitlement becomes an expectation, is irrelevant.

The coerced redistribution of wealth as government charity becomes the norm, however grossly antithetical that idea is to the archaic concept of “liberty.”

And two, five, ten, a hundred years hence, the opiated rabble of the future will indeed wonder what the fuss was all about in 2013.  Quickly will they forget about a time when the government was not the mediator, deciding what healthcare might be delivered to whom, when it can be delivered, and at what cost.

Four years ago, I longed for our moment today.  A Republican Congress, a Republican president, and a still relatively originalist Supreme Court (thank you, President Trump).  And yet, even with all of those variables being perfectly in place, which I would have once believed to have been ideal to fully repeal the big-government monstrosity that is Obamacare and replace it with free-market ideals like tax incentives for health savings accounts to nurture free market reform for health care in America, it is not enough to supersede my simple premonition above.

Republicans, despite their absolute ability for full repeal and all of their promises to do so, are not discussing it.  Rather, they are discussing the politically viable preservation of an entitlement program.

With the burgeoning Trump administration, there is plenty for conservatives to be excited about.  This symbolic battle between Democrats feigning indignation about the majority of Barack Obama’s flagship legislation being upheld and Republicans feigning perseverance about destroying it is not among them.

William Sullivan blogs at Political Palaver and can be followed on Twitter.