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The Liberal Argument Against Obamacare

Sameer Suri |
November 16, 2013 | 3:42 p.m. PST


President Obama. Photo courtesy of House Committee on Education and the Workforce Dem.
President Obama. Photo courtesy of House Committee on Education and the Workforce Dem.
Inasmuch as the Affordable Care Act has become a partisan issue, Democrats have apparently been chicaned into believing it’s a liberal law. This is a scam on the level of group therapy. (I hated group therapy. If I ever find my inner child, I’m having an abortion.) Any actual liberals should be foaming at the mouth trying to overturn this stupid, gargantuan, legislative mess.

Meanwhile, you constantly hear the ACA’s supporters caterwauling that though this may not be a universal, single-payer plan, “it’s a step in the right direction.” The fact that these people always seem to use these exact words should give you some indication as to how based this protestation is on fact, and how based it is on idiots lazily parroting talking points. My God, another person said “it’s a step in the right direction” – I haven’t been so shocked since Rosie O’Donnell came out of the closet.

Not only is this argument irritating, it’s patently false. This law is not a step in the same direction as single-payer. It’s a step in the opposite direction. To people with brain cells, this will be mind-numbingly obvious, but for the defenders of the ACA, let me explain:

An individual mandate makes health care more expensive for everyone, including the poor. Once customers are mandated to buy something from someone, the sellers raise the price. It’s a basic market principle. That’s how monopolies work. That’s why you could put an orphanage of children through Harvard with the amount of money it takes to buy a chimichanga at Disneyland.

Sellers raising the price, by the way, is exactly what’s happened since the ACA passed. As early as January of 2013, according to the New York Times, “Health insurance companies across the country are seeking and winning double-digit increases in premiums for some customers….”

Meanwhile, the Times, that bastion of objectivity, leapt to the law’s defense in the same article, claiming one of its “biggest objectives” was to “stem the rapid rise in insurance costs for consumers.”

Right. And when Chris Brown refused to apologize for savagely beating a woman, his “biggest objective” was to apologize. That’s why the first album he released after the beating, F.A.M.E., was an acronym for Forgiving All My Enemies – or, as they say in Germany, Mein Kampf. It’s because he was sorry.

Excuse me? One of the law’s “biggest objectives” was to prevent insurance companies from hiking up rates, so it instituted the mandate that not only allowed, but encouraged insurance companies to hike up rates? To whom does this make sense?

Now that millions of Americans – 4.8 million, according to Forbes – face the prospect of being thrown off their health plans in favor of plans that comply with the new regulations, their medical costs are going to rise even more. Recipients of these new plans are going to have to shell out exorbitant amounts of money to buy coverage for medical issues that will never apply to them. Is it really necessary for eighty-five-year-year-old Grandma to dig into her retirement fund in order to purchase insurance for prenatal care? What are the odds that she’s going to need it?

Not to mention, this mangled leviathan of a law contains an embarrassing panoply of idiotic, self-contradictory regulations. Case in point: according to Forbes, under the ACA, insurers “charge 50 percent more to smokers.” So, health insurance companies can’t charge extra for pre-existing conditions, but pre-pre-existing conditions are fair game?

Aren’t Democrats supposed to be the party that supports the right of Americans to choose what to do to their own bodies? Wasn’t that the idea behind Roe v. Wade? Why has it suddenly become perfectly acceptable for this party to legislatively bully people about a personal, private health decision?

All of the above points should give you some idea as to the ethics and logic the people responsible for this law applied to it – especially since Congress, in its most revealing statement about how fabulous the ACA is, exempted themselves from it.

Entrusting health care to these people is like hiring Teddy Kennedy for a driving instructor.

Meanwhile, every ACA supporter you encounter will respond to all of these points with the same sophisticated, well-thought-out, nuanced argument: “You suck. You just don’t like Obama because he’s black.”

That, or they’ll start in with their infantile squealing about how nobody should try to overturn the ACA because it’s “settled law,” as if no one in the country has ever repealed a law before.

Yes, it’s settled law right now. So? Prohibition was settled law. Abortion bans were settled law. Proposition 8 was settled law. Why only in the case of this floundering behemoth should “settled law” be impervious to criticism?

Mainly, the reason Democrats favor the ACA doesn’t seem to be the law’s own merits, but the fact that its opponents tend to be Republicans – particularly Republicans of the the-only-man-inside-you-should-be-Jesus variety.

We saw the clearest crystallization of this idea when it came to the requirement that employees’ insurance plans cover birth control. Because Catholics publicly groused against the contraceptive mandate, and the Catholic Church denounces artificial birth control, people seemed to think opposing the mandate was tantamount to opposing contraception altogether.

That certainly would explain why ACA advocate Sandra Fluke – remember her? – delivered a speech whining about how “we’re still having the debates we thought were won before I was even born.”

Well, no, actually, “we’re” not. The debate that was won before she was born was about whether birth control should be legal. The debate over birth control in the ACA is about whether birth control coverage should be mandatory in employees’ heath insurance plans – something the President insisted was necessary because “I don’t think a college student in Colorado Springs should have to choose between textbooks or the preventative care she needs.”

Except that, according to Planned Parenthood, birth control pills can cost as little as $15 a month. Before the ACA rolled around, did you ever hear people complaining about the cost of contraception driving them into bankruptcy? This is like demanding that insurance plans cover Band-Aids.

“But I don’t think college students should have to choose between textbooks and the Band-Aids they need. Think of all the families who won’t be able to feed their children because they’ve been forced to spend their entire income on Band-Aids!”

At any rate, hopefully Sandra Fluke is getting plenty of use out of all that free birth control – though somehow, after hearing that voice of hers, I doubt it.

Meanwhile, once a lot of the most prominent adversaries of the contraceptive mandate turned out to be social conservatives like Rush Limbaugh and Mitt Romney, who agitated against modern, liberal views on social and reproductive issues, Fluke’s fellow Democrats made the same imbecilic leap she did. They conflated opposition to the mandate with opposition to those liberal views. Ergo, anyone who holds said views should support the mandate. After all, the enemy of your enemy is your friend.

Except that sometimes, the enemy of Hitler is Stalin.

What actually should bother the “liberal” proponents of this law is that the pointless costs the ACA incurs are, by definition, going to hurt poor people the most. Even the surcharge for smokers strikes a tougher blow against the poor than the rich, inasmuch as poorer people are more likely to smoke: Gallup found that, across eight income brackets in the American population, “Smoking Decreases as Income Increases.”

When you think about it, that makes sense. Have you ever been to South Central? People there must take one puff of a cigarette and think, “This air is cleaner.”

It is true that people who can’t afford to buy private coverage have the option of accepting public assistance. They’re not the issue. In fact, their coverage situation should be the liberal objective – a single-payer system like those in Canada and Britain would take this public option and expand its availability to the entire population, not just the poor. The issue is the people who can barely afford private coverage, and who suddenly have to shoulder this now-mandatory, increasingly expensive financial burden. They’re the ones who are screwed.


Reach Contributor Sameer Suri here.



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