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Opinion

Opinion

Opinion: ACA failure would kill ‘new liberalism’

November 16, 2013

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— “Even if it takes a change to the law, the president should honor the commitment the federal government made to those people and let them keep what they got.”

— Bill Clinton, Nov. 12

So the former president asserts that the current president continues to dishonor his “you like your plan, you can keep your plan” pledge. And calls for the Affordable Care Act to be changed, despite furious White House resistance to the very idea.

Coming from the dean of the Democratic Party, this one line marked the breaching of the dam. It legitimized the brewing rebellion of panicked Democrats against Obamacare. Within hours, that rebellion went loudly public. By Thursday, President Obama had been forced into a rear-guard holding action, asking insurers to grant a one-year extension of current plans.

The damage to the Obama presidency, however, is already done. His approval rating has fallen to 39 percent, his lowest ever. And, for the first time, a majority consider him untrustworthy. That bond is not easily repaired.

At stake, however, is more than the fate of one presidency or of the current Democratic majority in the Senate. At stake is the new, more ambitious, social-democratic brand of American liberalism introduced by Obama, of which Obamacare is both symbol and concrete embodiment.

Precisely when the GOP was returning to a more constitutionalist conservatism committed to reforming, restructuring and reining in the welfare state (see, for example, the Paul Ryan Medicare reform passed by House Republicans with near unanimity), Obama offered a transformational liberalism designed to expand the role of government, enlarge the welfare state and create yet new entitlements (see, for example, his call for universal preschool in his most recent State of the Union address).

The centerpiece of this vision is, of course, Obamacare, the most sweeping social reform in the last half-century, affecting one-sixth of the economy and directly touching the most vital area of life of every citizen.

As the only socially transformational legislation in modern American history to be enacted on a straight party-line vote, Obamacare is wholly owned by the Democrats. Its unraveling would catastrophically undermine their underlying ideology of ever-expansive central government providing cradle-to-grave care for an ever-grateful citizenry.

For four years, this debate has been theoretical. Now it’s real. And for Democrats, it’s a disaster.

It begins with the bungled rollout. If Washington can’t even do the website — the literal portal to this brave new world — how does it propose to regulate the vast ecosystem of American medicine?

Second, arrogance. Five million freely chosen, freely purchased, freely renewed health care plans are summarily canceled. Why? Because they don’t meet some arbitrary standard set by the experts in Washington.

For all his news conference gyrations about not deliberately deceiving people with his “if you like it” promise, the law Obama so triumphantly gave us allows you to keep your plan only if he likes it. That’s the very definition of paternalism.

Lastly, deception. The essence of the entitlement state is government giving away free stuff. Hence Obamacare would provide insurance for 30 million uninsured, while giving everybody tons of free medical services — without adding “one dime to our deficits,” promised Obama.

This being inherently impossible, there had to be a catch. Now we know it: hidden subsidies. Toss millions of the insured off their plans and onto the Obamacare “exchanges” where they would be forced into more expensive insurance packed with coverage they don’t want and don’t need — so that the overcharge can be used to subsidize others.

The reaction to the incompetence, arrogance and deception has ranged from ridicule to anger. But more is in jeopardy than just panicked congressional Democrats. This is the signature legislative achievement of the Obama presidency, the embodiment of his new entitlement-state liberalism. If Obamacare goes down, there will be little left of its underlying ideology.

Perhaps it won’t go down. Perhaps the web portal hums beautifully on Nov. 30. Perhaps they’ll find a way to restore the canceled policies without wrecking the financial underpinning of the exchanges.

Perhaps. The more likely scenario, however, is that Obamacare does fail. It either fails politically, renounced by a wide consensus that includes a growing number of Democrats. Or it succumbs to the financial complications (the insurance “death spiral”) of the very amendments desperately tacked on to save it.

If it does fail, the effect will be historic. Obamacare will take down with it more than Mary Landrieu and Co. It will discredit Obama’s new liberalism for years to come.

— Charles Krauthammer is a columnist for Washington Post Writers Group.

Comments

5 months ago

There isnt any flaws just ignorant Bifocal (Pig Latin) attorneys that dont know how to interpret the law....

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5 months ago

Peak Liberalism arrives in the inability to construct and run an e-commerce web site.

Woodrow Wilson must be spinning in his grave.

Should have staked him down.

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Richard Heckler 5 months ago

Health Care is s human right. Human bodies are designed to require health care at some point... this is not a choice. It is time to ditch expensive health insurance for everybody rich or poor. USA medical insurance is NOT a good dollar value simple as that.

Conservative profiteers are pouring millions of $$$$$ into anti-Obamacare misinformation Ads.

All of this big spending on misinformation is increasing the cost of medical care/medical insurance thus increasing the cost of just about all that consumers purchase.

The health insurance industry will gladly pass on the cost of misinformation to the consumers which increases the cost of premiums,pharmaceuticals,medical equipment,hospital stays,lab works etc etc etc.

Then trickles down to groceries,gasoline,tires,clothes,shoes,Brew and wine,concerts,school supplies,cost to run local governments and etc etc etc.

Is misinformation and inflated medical insurance rates worth increasing the cost of living across the board?

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Richard Heckler 5 months ago

Charles K forgot a few items.

Americans for Prosperity — a conservative group funded by the Koch brothers — is spending millions on ads that aim to turn Americans against the Affordable Care Act, just as government officials prepare to enroll the uninsured in the law’s new health care exchanges beginning on October 1.

The campaign will eschew attacks on President Obama in favor of a new non-ideological tone that could appeal “young women” who watch the Food Network, “Law & Order,” and “Good Morning America.”

The goal is to “start softening the ground” ahead of implementation, Tim Phillips, the group’s president told the New York Times. “Too often we fell into a broad-based ideological argument, and I think we failed to get at ‘Look at what they’re doing and how it impacts you,’ ” he said. “I think where we win is on the impact of a specific policy.”

But if the group’s first TV ad, titled “Questions,” is any indication the new spots are no more honest than the partisan advertisements from 2012.

http://thinkprogress.org/health/2013/07/08/2262831/koch-brothers-obamacare-misinformation/

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Richard Heckler 5 months ago

The GOP name got bought out by a clever campaign backed by big big big dollars with Newt as a chief spokesperson and a congressman. Newt is a slick talker no question about it. This group likes zero competition for the corrupt medical insurance industry.

John Birch Society Celebrates Koch Family For Their Role In Founding The Hate Group BY LEE FANG ON JUNE 10, 2011

Fred not only founded the company now known as Koch Industries, he also was a founding member of the John Birch Society. As a founding board member, Fred helped engineer a hysterical wave of attacks on labor, intellectuals, public education, liberal clergy members, and other pillars of society he viewed as a threat.

Birchers decried everyone from former President Eisenhower to water utility administrators as pawns in a global communist conspiracy. In the last two years, as the Koch name has become synonymous with right-wing plutocracy in the United States, the Koch family has played down its relation to the Birchers.

However, the New American, the official mouthpiece of the John Birch Society, published a piece this morning celebrating Fred and the Koch family’s pivotal role in developing the group:

http://thinkprogress.org/politics/2011/06/10/242334/john-birch-society-celebrates-koch/

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Richard Heckler 5 months ago

GOP run by the John Birch Society,Libertarians and Radical Fundamentalists.

But it also bears a political argument we need to absorb. Explained Conner in Chicago, “The John Birch Society built the most effective, best-funded right-wing populist organization in the United States of America. Now, not all my friends on the left want to hear this. It’s so easy to say, ‘These people were crackpots.” But Robert Welch “was a brilliant man. That doesn’t mean he was correct about anything. But he was a brilliant man. And he loved to sell.” And what comes through strikingly in the book is that, even as Welch and his organization were excoriated, the stories they told, frequently through carefully disguised front groups with pleasant-sounding names—say, the one from the 1960s about how sexual education was teaching children how to be sexually promiscuous; or the one in the early 1990s promoting the impeachment of Bill Clinton—were sold quite effectively to the broader political culture. They achieved things.

We really, really don’t want to believe this. Even Claire Conner did not want to believe this. She writes, remembering the Kennedy assassination, blamed in the wider political culture as a product of just the sort of extremism Birchers were promoting, “the whole right wing is kaput. My parents and the Birchers just became ancient history.” Less than eight months later, of course, Barry Goldwater was the Republican presidential nominee. She writes of her conviction of how the miserable failures of the Bush years were “killing America’s appetite for right-wing Republicans.”

And yet now we have thirty states with Republican majorities, many of them veto-proof.

more..

And at that point, in Chicago, Claire Connner concluded in thunder. “These people are at the point of changing our government. If you want to see how, look at Texas, look at Florida. Look at Ohio. Look at Wisconsin, for God’s sake—my state. Look at Michigan, for heaven’s sake: they think they elected a moderate, but they elected a right-wing radical. That’s how this game is played. They’re changing the policy. And the whole thing is so deep that when they vote them out of office, number one, half of them won’t be able to vote. And number two, we will have years of problems to fix…. We were so happy that we won the popular vote, but they’re buying the place….they’ve virtually stopped the government for five years.”

Claire Conner knows of what she speaks. She was there at the inception—as a sad-eyed, vulnerable adolescent—then watched as the machine was put together: a machine whose deceptively smooth surface has always only barely hid the corrosive ugliness and cunning anti-democratic cleverness underneath, convincing too many liberals, too many times, that the ugliness could not but fade away in the fulness of time—convincing them wrong. Read her, and listen well: there is nothing new under the wingnut sun.

http://www.thenation.com/blog/175625/growing-john-birch-society#

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Rich Noever 5 months ago

Maybe some day, people will regain some confidence that they can control their lives without the nanny state. It will not come until they no longer feel comfort in being "victums".

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