ObamaCare: The Coming Battles
Now that the House of Representatives has passed the Senate version of ObamaCare, what should Americans expect? If you are concerned about the future of your health care and the future of this country, here are a few things to prepare for in the short, medium, and long terms.
In the short term, Senate Republicans could attempt to derail the process by modifying any attempted "reconciliation bill," thus forcing another House vote.
We may also see various legal challenges to the constitutionality of ObamaCare. In a Washington Post piece from March 21, 2010, Georgetown University law professor Randy Barnett offers a nice rundown of the possible constitutional challenges and their likelihood of success.
In the medium term, Americans who disagreed with their congressman's vote on ObamaCare will have to express their opinions at the polls. President Obama demanded that Congress pass his agenda, saying that if American disagreed then, "that's what elections are for."
As Kimberley Strassel noted in the Wall Street Journal, Democratic leaders have repeatedly told moderate Blue Dogs that current voter opposition to ObamaCare would fade by November, and that Democratic congressmen would instead be rewarded at the polls if they sided with the president and proved that the Democrats could "govern."
Hence, anyone who made a public promise to oppose their legislator in the November 2010 election if they voted for ObamaCare should follow through on that promise, and as publicly as possible. (Similarly, anyone who promised to support their congressman if they voted against ObamaCare should do so.)
Pelosi and company are banking on Americans having a short memory on this issue. If tea party protesters and like-minded Americans drop the ball and prove them right, then everyone will know that the tea party movement is just a toothless political "paper tiger."
Come November 2010, politicians and pundits will learn one of two lessons. Either they will learn that the tea party protesters are all talk and no walk -- or they will learn that the tea party protesters are a force to be reckoned with, and that anyone who crosses them does so at great political peril. Which lesson they learn will be up to us.
Hence, the medium term task for Americans who promised action in November will be to follow through on those promises.
Finally, in the long term, the primary battle will be one of ideas.
Some provisions of ObamaCare will take effect immediately (such as new insurance regulations), whereas others will not take effect for a few years (such as mandatory insurance).
Problems already occurring under the similar Massachusetts plan of "universal coverage" — such as rising costs to the government and long waits to see primary care and specialist physicians — will inevitably unfold at the national level. When they do, it will be crucial for Americans to place the blame where it properly belongs — namely on the government takeover of health care and health insurance.
When the Massachusetts plan started failing, a ferocious battle of ideas erupted as to the root cause of the problems of skyrocketing costs and reduced access to medical care.
Many liberals argued that these problems "proved" that there were insufficient government controls. They blamed the highly regulated residual free market elements of the Massachusetts plan. Hence, their proposed solution was a complete government takeover of health care in the form of a "single-payer" system.
Others argued that the problems were caused by the government controls. Hence, the proper solution would be to repeal those controls and implement genuine free market reforms.
Supporters of the free market must not allow the liberals to evade the responsibility for problems they've created and instead wrongly shift the blame onto the free market.
As George Mason University professor Peter Boettke once noted:
If you bound the arms and legs of gold-medal swimmer Michael Phelps, weighed him down with chains, threw him in a pool and he sank, you wouldn't call it a "failure of swimming." So, when markets have been weighted down by inept and excessive regulation, why call this a "failure of capitalism"?
Similarly, we should not allow the coming failures of ObamaCare to be portrayed as failures of the free market (thus "justifying" a fully socialized medical system), when they will actually be failures of government controls imposed on the free market.
Whichever side wins this upcoming battle of ideas will determine the ultimate future of health care in this country.
America was founded on the principle of individual rights, including the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The first round of the political battle over health care has gone to those who would violate those rights. But this is still our country. If Americans commit to fighting for their lives and their freedom, then the final victory can still be ours.