A lot of people on the left cannot come to grips with the conservative “overreaction” to Obamacare. I don’t think it’s an overreaction, and I can help liberals understand what’s happening. Just consider the Patriot Act. Here was a law that affected a teeny-weeny number of people. Almost all of the horrible things it did never happened. Remember all that teeth-gnashing about searched libraries? Totally bogus.
And yet, people all over the country got their dresses over their heads about the Patriot Act. Why? Well, I would argue partly out of addlepated paranoia, ignorance, and Bush hatred. They would argue it was out of deep-seated principle. Let’s compromise and say that for many, it was both, and for a few, it was all about principle.
Well, opposition to PPACA seems vastly more rational to me. By its very design it affects everyone. It costs them money. It will cost them freedom. It will cost our country money, medical innovation, and mounds of debt. It involves far, far more government intrusion into our lives than the Patriot Act. And yet, many of the same people who considered the Patriot Act an American Nuremburg Law think this is one of the greatest moments in American history.
Democrats claim they’ve rallied their left-wing base. But that base isn’t big enough to carry the fall elections, particularly after the party alienated independents and seniors. The only way Democrats win a base election this year will be if opponents of this law stay home.
To keep that from happening, Republican candidates must focus on ObamaCare’s weaknesses. It will cost $2.6 trillion in its first decade of operation and is built on Madoff-style financing. For example, it double counts Social Security payroll taxes, long-term care premiums, and Medicare savings in order to make it appear more fiscally responsible. In reality, ObamaCare isn’t $143 billion in the black, as Democrats have claimed, but $618 billion in the red. And giving the IRS $10 billion to hire about 16,000 agents to enforce the new taxes and fees in ObamaCare will drive small business owners crazy.
Republicans have a powerful rallying cry in “repeal, replace and reform.” Few voters will want to keep onerous mandates that hit individuals and taxes that hobble economic growth. Rather than spending a trillion dollars on subsidies for insurance companies and Medicaid expansion, as ObamaCare does, Republicans should push for giving individuals the same health-insurance tax break businesses get, which would cost less.
Republicans must also continue to press for curbing junk lawsuits, enabling people to buy insurance across state lines, increasing the amount of money they can sock away tax free for medical expenses, and permitting small businesses to pool risk.
Opponents of ObamaCare have decisively won the battle for public opinion. As voters start to feel the pain of this new program, Republicans will be in a stronger position if they stay in the fight, make a principled case, and lay out a competing vision.
Spring renewal and baseball’s new season are upon us, so let’s quote the optimism of Yogi: It isn’t over until it’s over. I thought 10 p.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday night in Washington was the Republican Party’s finest hour in a long time. When the voting stopped, the screen said the number of Republicans voting for Mr. Obama’s bill was zero. Not one. Nobody.
Pristine opposition is being spun as a Republican liability. It looks to me like a Republican resurrection. The party hasn’t yet discovered what it should be, but this clearly was a party discovering what it cannot be.
Put it this way: If you produce a bill that Olympia Snowe of Maine cannot vote for, you have not produced legislation “for the generations.” You have not even produced legislation that is liberal. You have produced legislation from the left. You have produced once-in-a-lifetime legislation that no Republican from any constituency across America could vote for.
Liberals in the private sector have to come to grips with the fact that what they do for a living is an abstraction to the people they are sending to Washington. Nobody at the top of the party is much interested in them anymore. House and Senate Democrats hammered insurance, pharma and medical-device makers with taxes and intimidation. It wasn’t just politics. It was belief. With this bill, the party made the transition from market unionism to Alinskyism, from a politics tempered by the marketplace to one that milks the marketplace.
Count Henninger and myself among those who think “Repeal!” is a good rallying cry in the run-up to the 2010 election. First repeal the Democrats in Congress, then in 2012 the Democrat in the White House then, once he’s gone, Obamacare will quickly follow him out the door.
If you have tips, questions, comments or suggestions, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.