Liberals in rose-colored glasses consider ObamaCare a ‘victory’
By John Podhoretz
April 15, 2014 | 7:45pm
Ever since ObamaCare supposedly hit the arbitrary target of 7 million sign-ups by March 31, its supporters have been taking the most premature victory lap since conservative proponents of the Iraq War (like me) crowed about the results of the three elections inside Iraq in 2005 and how they demonstrated the country was on the verge of a historic peace.
“It’s all over but the shouting: ObamaCare is working,” said Eugene Robinson in Tuesday’s Washington Post. “All the naysaying in the world can’t drown out mounting evidence that the Affordable Care Act, President Obama’s signature domestic achievement, is a real success.”
Those words summarize the relief of many liberals who plunged into despair last fall when the HealthCare.gov site proved to be a $600 million disaster. So relieved was Ezra Klein of Vox.com that he blithely claimed the sudden “resignation” last Friday of Kathleen Sebelius, the top administration official in charge of the ObamaCare rollout, was actually a mark of the policy’s great success.
It takes a very special pair of rose-colored glasses to ignore the simple reality that officials almost never resign when the policy they’ve been working to implement has triumphed. But rose-colored glasses are the only ones ObamaCare fans are allowed to buy from Warby Parker these days.
Yes, it’s true that six months after that catastrophe, people can actually sign up for ObamaCare. It’s also likely true that the program’s worst possible fate — in which it literally collapses on its own because its overall insurance pool holds far more sick people than healthy people — has been avoided.
But the idea that, by meeting their obligations under the law, those 7 million signers-up have thereby indicated their support for ObamaCare, or their approval of it, or have ensured its success, is simply delusional.
In the first place, we don’t yet know how many people who didn’t have insurance before now do — which was the entire point of this exercise. But it’s not a lot. According to an analysis by Avik Roy of Forbes, the number might be as low as 1.4 million.
That’s 1.4 million out of an overall uninsured population of 31 million to 47 million.
The other 6 million have gone into the program because circumstances compelled them to — as in, they already had insurance until it got canceled due to the coming of ObamaCare.
Second, even by the administration’s own calculations, as many as 1.5 million of the sign-ups haven’t paid their premiums yet. Standard accounting principles say such people shouldn’t be considered “covered” by the law.
That would drop the covered-by-ObamaCare number down to 6 million — if you actually care about the honest number. The administration and its cheerleaders clearly don’t; they’re focused on doing whatever is necessary to secure Obama’s signature achievement.
This is so much the case that it gives us every reason to be suspicious of Robert Pear’s stunning revelation in Tuesday’s New York Times that the Census Bureau is overhauling its method of measuring the uninsured — in such a way that it will be impossible to judge the effect of ObamaCare on the overall number.
How convenient, as the Church Lady might say.
The key point, though, is the bizarre assumption that those who’ve signed up for ObamaCare are going to like what they get and become advocates for the program for everybody else.
They were the first victims of Obama’s flat lie that “if you like your health-care plan, you can keep it.” Are they going to forgive the lie just because they’re inside his system now? Or are they going to feel more bitter about it as time goes on, given the likelihood that their premiums are going to rise and their coverage is going to get worse?
The true glee of the liberals has to do with what they see as the “inevitability” of ObamaCare now — that Americans will never allow it to be repealed because they’ll come to rely on its goodies and the overall system will be too altered by 2017 to go back.
Perhaps. But anyone who has bet on ObamaCare’s popularity since its passage four years ago has lived to regret that bet, and the illusory triumph of March 31 doesn’t change that.
And whether it will still be standing in 2018 doesn’t address the woes of Democratic politicians running for office this year. The pundits on their side of the aisle are telling them they should defend it now because “it’s a real success.”
Such advice must frighten them even more, since it means they’ll be damned if they do defend it by their opponents and damned if they don’t by their friends.
The American electorate’s response to the chaos in Iraq in 2006 was “baked in the cake” months before voters went to vote. The result was a Democratic wave that heralded the coming of Barack Obama.
Take it from me, ObamaCare partisans: We Iraq-war partisans didn’t want to take off our rose-colored glasses, either.