Briar patch? Maybe we should let the GOP abolish Obamacare

English: Barack Obama signing the Patient Prot...

President Obama signing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act at the White House (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By Robert Mann

I’ve a confession to make. From the beginning, I’ve been rooting for Obamacare to flop. Each time I read a story about the disastrous rollout of the Affordable Care Act, I quietly cheer.

I was secretly hoping that Sen. Ted Cruz and the Tea Party would succeed in persuading President Obama to abandon his health reform program. Every time I saw Speaker John Boehner, Michelle Bachman, Sarah Palin or Cruz fulminate against Obamacare, I silently cheered them on, praying that the Democrats would succumb to their demands.

It’s not that I hate the idea of universal health care. I believe health care is a right that belongs to every American. Cruz and his cohorts spout empty rhetoric about the “right to life,” but it only seems to apply to “lives” in the womb. Once they’re born, they’re own their own – scraping for health care, food, day care, clean air and water and a decent education.

Health care should be among the most vital aspects of any right-to-life position, but it’s not. And the reason I’m rooting for Obamacare to fail is that Obamacare won’t guarantee it, either.

It’s already a bit of a flop, but I fully expect the technical problems will be solved and people will start signing up in large numbers. The program will eventually significantly slash the numbers of uninsured Americans, even though millions will continue to go without health care because of Republican governors, like Bobby Jindal, who won’t expand their state’s Medicaid programs.

And that’s why I hope Obamacare flops.

It will never achieve the goal of universal coverage.

In fact, the only thing standing in the way of universal coverage for the American people is Obamacare. But Republicans like Cruz, Boehner, Jindal and their ilk are too dense to see it.

Destroy Obamacare and, within a decade, we’ll have a single-payer system. Every American will be enrolled in Medicare, or something like it.

Abolish Obamacare and we’ll hear such an outcry from the American people that we’ll all be enrolled in Medicare by the end of President Hillary Clinton’s second term — if not her first.

Obamacare really does need to go. The polls say so.

In fact, the polls suggest that some of the public’s dislike of Obamacare is founded on the strong belief that it doesn’t go far enough.

According to a CNN poll conducted earlier this year, 59 percent supported the health care law; 35 percent opposed it. Among its supporters, 43 percent supported the current law and 16 percent wanted something stronger.

Why would so many people think Obamacare isn’t strong enough? It’s because the individual mandate and the other free-market reforms that make up Obamacare are actually GOP ideas crafted two decades ago as a bulwark against something stronger, like a Canadian-style single-payer system.

“The conservative contribution to the health care debate has been confined largely to criticizing liberal proposals,” the Heritage Foundation said in a famous 1989 report in which conservatives first began to rally around the idea of an individual mandate. “[T]his only gives conservatives a reputation of insensitivity, but it also denies ordinary Americans the opportunity to evaluate a market-based proposal that might cure current deficiencies without creating new ones. It is this lack of a comprehensive alternative that has caused many Americans to be attracted to the liberals’ health care agenda.”

Republican leaders spent decades promoting programs very much like Obamacare as a defense against something far more liberal. As the Heritage Foundation said in its 1989 report:

Conservatives too should recognize that the press for national health systems comes from Americans wanting the same thing: adequate care for everyone, regardless of income. Rather than denying that Americans are demanding this, conservatives should recognize that, unless they develop a comprehensive system that still maintains the choice and quality that Americans have grown to expect, the political process eventually will create a nationwide system plagued by the defects of the national systems abroad.

Thus was born the mother of Obamacare, a bill introduced in the Senate in 1993 by Republican Sen. John Chafee of Rhode Island and endorsed by 18 Republican senators. It contained the mandate requiring that every American purchase health insurance.

Remember Romneycare in Massachusetts? That was also founded upon the principles articulated in the Heritage Foundation report. The GOP only recently abandoned its health care ideas when Obama and the Democrats embraced and enacted them.

Those Republicans fighting so hard to repeal Obamacare don’t realize it, but they are working to destroy the only thing standing between the American people and a single-payer system. Take away Obamacare and the American people will never settle for something as weak as tax credits or personal health care accounts.

Sure, it’s politically useful to attack Obamacare as socialism, but it’s nothing more than the kind of managed competition that the Republican Party has promoted for years.

But if Ted Cruz and other Republicans want to repeal it and set the set the stage for something much stronger and more robust – a single-payer system that will cover every single American – why should we try to stop them?

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4 Responses to Briar patch? Maybe we should let the GOP abolish Obamacare

  1. Judith says:

    I don’t cheer that Obamacare has had technical problems. I’m all for anyone who can get healthcare through the system. It won’t cover everybody, and that’s a shame. My strong preference would have been single-payer, and my fear is Obamacare will further entrench private insurance companies. Americans, however, won’t typically accept a major overhaul in policy. We do incremental policy change, and only in dire situations are we open to major change–like Social Security during the Depression. This was the best he could realistically get through the political system right now. Given the hysteria surrounding Obamacare, can you IMAGINE what would have happened if Obama had proposed Medicare for All? We couldn’t even get a public option as a part of Obamacare, thanks to Max Baucus, among others.


    • John Sachs says:

      I agree with Judith. If we had a functioning Congress, then to attempt to enact a single-payer system would be preferable to the cram down of Obamacare. But my fear is that as poorly constituted as Obamacare is now, it is better than what we had before–which was nothing other than Medicaid. So until sanity and reason and a spirit of advise and consent return to the U.S. Congress, let’s keep Obamacare and strive to make it efficient.


  2. Matthew S. Walton says:

    It’s funny that you say “if we had a functioning congress…” Some of us think the Congress functions just fine. For example, I can imagine that you don’t like Senator Vitter, but I think his voting record is perfect. I’m all for mandating that everyone have coverage, I’m just against taxpayers subsidizing it. Subsidies constitute welfare, just like the earned income credit. No one should be able to get an income tax return greater than what was withheld from them. Why should I have to pay for my own coverage and underwrite someone else’s too?


  3. Richard Webb says:

    Would your reference to “the American people” be that mythical amorphous group whom the vehement opponents of the Affordable Care Act claim to represent? If so, your faith in their “demanding” and “not settling” is far greater than mine. An attention-getting piece, to be sure.


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