Liberals, why are you celebrating Obamacare?
Liberals are celebrating the Supreme Court’s decision upholding Obamacare. This raises a question: Why, exactly, are they celebrating? Obamacare is far from the liberal ideal. In fact, many of its provisions fly in the face of what liberals say they stand for. The law promotes cronyism, hurts the poor, limits care for the elderly, fails to reach the left’s pet goal of universal coverage, wrecks havoc on government transparency, and raises taxes on the middle class.
Remember Occupy Wall Street? Rowdy groups of young liberals gathered to “occupy” various cities in protest of the Wall Street bailouts and a political system in which the government and big corporations conspire to make rich people richer and poor people poorer. This wheeling and dealing cronyism is at the heart of the health law.
Insurance companies supported the law, and in return made out like bandits. Thirty million new customers — like it or not — will be forced into their market. Liberals hated the mandate for this reason just a few short years ago. Remember candidate Obama in 2008: “Well, if things were that easy, I could mandate everybody to buy a house, and that would solve the problem of homelessness.” In 2009, Howard Dean called the Obamacare plan “an insurance company’s dream.”
The mandate isn’t the only way corporate interests will profit from Obamacare. The “minimum essential” requirements for insurance are an open invitation to lobbyists representing each pharmaceutical and medical treatment to head to Congress — or state seats of government — to convince lawmakers their products are “essential.” If you think bureaucrats will be making these decisions fairly, considering only scientific studies or unbiased task forces, think again. There is money to be made.
Not everyone will be making money from Obamacare. In fact, in spite of the income inequality “crisis” which supposedly keeps liberals up at night, low-income Americans will be among Obamacare’s biggest losers.
Obamacare’s original design was simply to throw more people onto the already over-burdened Medicaid program. These people may technically end up with “insurance” through Medicaid, but given that fewer and fewer medical professionals will take on Medicaid clients, and more and more patients are about to be added to Medicaid’s rolls, they’ll soon find that having insurance doesn’t mean getting medical care.
Democrats may be known for skewering opponents who mention possible Medicare reforms, but Obamacare aggressively guts the programs, slashing $500 billion in funding and creating a government board to make further cuts.
Liberals? Cutting Medicare? Yes, and Obamacare’s Medicare-cutting board will have legislative power that Congress could only dream of. The 15-member board’s proposals will become law unless supermajorities in Congress vote to stop them. How’s that for elitist rule by fiat? Is that what liberals stand for? What happened to democracy and “power to the people”?
At least Obamacare fulfills liberals’ sacred goal in health policy: universal coverage. Actually, no. According to the Congressional Budget Office, 23 million Americans will still lack health insurance after the law is fully implemented. This goes to show that even the most complex central-planning schemes cannot fully manage the complicated behavior of 300 million unique individuals, most of whom already participate in the health system.
To their credit, many liberals have criticized Obamacare. Some have said it doesn’t go far enough. If that’s their stance, they should be honest with the American people about what’s next and the direction they intend to go. But clearly, honesty and transparency haven’t been at the top of their priority list.
In order to pass the law, Democrats met behind closed doors. They bought critical votes with promises of pork, and even then rushed a late-night, party-line vote on a lengthy, complex bill. They committed disgusting abuses to the democratic process they say they love. What happened to transparency and honesty? Do liberals not value these things?
The law only survived in the Supreme Court because liberals have been willing to commit doublespeak on the individual mandate for the past two years. When selling it to the American people, President Obama insisted that it wasn’t a tax. But he had his lawyers argue in court that it is indeed a constitutional tax, one that will ultimately impact many middle-class Americans (whom Democrats promised they’d spare of tax increases).
That’s what’s so curious about leftists who are currently spiking the football and applauding the Supreme Court. Ironically, one day their ideological descendants will scratch their heads at the odd turn American liberalism took in this decade. The purported opponents of cronyism and back-room deals were suddenly able to embrace corruption and dishonesty at the people’s expense. And that’s not something to celebrate.
Hadley Heath is a senior policy analyst at the Independent Women’s Forum (www.iwf.org). Follow her on Twitter.