Will Anything Change Because of Gruberstorm?
We have watched through recent days as the saga of Jonathan Gruber has unfolded like an early Christmas gift shedding its own wrapping paper beneath the tree. The videos have piled up, one after another, each one shining an ugly light on the process which begat Obamacare in the early fog of political warfare. It’s enough to give hope to the most jaded observer of American politics.
The Gruberstorm fed into an already established trend which gave Americans a peek behind the Obamacare curtains and left the program with its lowest level of popular approval to date. A separate question -- much hyped by Democrat supporters -- showed that those enrolled were at least as happy with their government coverage as those with traditional, employer-provided or private plans. In essence, this meant that they answered the question by saying that their coverage was excellent (25%) or good (46%) in their first year of having the policy. Of course, it didn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that this question was specifically asked of those who had previously been living with no insurance at all. Anything was bound to be an improvement. A far better study would have been to find those who had lost an employer-provided plan and had to sign up through the health care exchanges.
Beyond the numbers, though, was the brutal image of one of the program's architects speaking earnestly into the camera over and over again, talking about how stupid we all are. He was passionate in a way so often lacking in the Hollywood pablum we are fed each season, explaining why it was all a massive feat of chicanery. Obamacare was the nasty-tasting snake oil, sold from the back of a wagon, which would cure us all if only we could be compelled to taking a swig.
As is so often the case, the cover up was far more damning than the original crime. The claims of “Gruber who?” rang hollow to the point where MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski was forced to play before-and-after clips of Obama talking about his erstwhile ACA planner and intone, what an idiot. The media pile-on continued, with even the most redoubtable liberal analysts being forced to admit that Gruber was about to become a verb.
Even some of the Affordable Care Act’s most ardent supporters began to worry that the GOP had a path to victory on the issue, no matter how slim the margin seemed in their estimation. With the mask pulled away from its origins, health care costs rising across the board, and general unrest among the plebes, surely the situation is finally close to being set to rights. So why do some of the more grizzled veterans of the political psychic wars still feel an old, familiar horripilation?
As Roger Waters so famously wrote in his classic tune, "In the Flesh," I’ve got some bad news for you sunshine. None of this is going to matter. The origin of my dismay is the sad history of lottery-style allotments handed out to the public by the progressive front, dating back to Social Security and continuing on through Medicare Part D. Once the distribution has begun, the reality of American politics provides a flexible security blanket which ensures that the tide shall never recede.
Once in place, the opponent sits upon the power play which is more potent than the Queen in a game of chess. “Do you,” they ask with the most pitiful of Oliver Twist looks upon their faces, “intend to take away this wonderful thing from all the needy people who finally have it?” It matters not what the thing in question might be. If the legislation under debate was so egregious that it established a program to give away free ponies to all children under the age of 16 in families whose total income was less than the minimum required to pay federal income tax, nothing would change. It would further make absolutely zero difference if said ponies were currently dying in the streets from a lack of proper veterinary care and feeding, leading to an outbreak of dead pony transmittable viral diseases which caused all who came in contact to defecate blood for weeks on end before expiring. The relentless television ads -- sponsored almost entirely by Democrats -- would feature the damp-eyed, poorly dressed waif standing in the back yard of her housing project with her dejected looking pony (replete with a tiny pink ribbon in its mane) wondering aloud when the evil Republicans would arrive to take poor Sea Biscuit junior off to the glue factory. The next election would come and go and the program would stand the test against the wheel.
Gruber has delivered proof of one unassailable fact: Politicians are liars and they are rarely if ever acting in your best interest. Stop and consider that for a moment. Was there really any significant portion of the electorate which didn’t already know this on a fundamental, lizard hindbrain level?
Now go feed your pony.