“As its Oct. 1 implementation date arrives, ObamaCare is the biggest bet that American liberalism has made in 80 years on its foundational beliefs,” Daniel Henninger of the Wall Street Journal writes:
A political idea, once it becomes a national program, achieves legitimacy with the public. Over time, that legitimacy deepens. So it has been with the idea of national social insurance.
German Chancellor Otto von Bismark’s creation of a social insurance system in the 19th century spread through Europe. After the devastation of World War I, few questioned its need. In the U.S., Franklin Roosevelt’s Social Security system was seen as an antidote to the Depression. The public’s three-decade support for the idea allowed Lyndon Johnson to pass the Medicare and Medicaid entitlements even in the absence of an economic crisis.
Going back at least to the Breaux-Thomas Medicare Commission in 1999, endless learned bodies have warned that the U.S. entitlement scheme of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid is financially unsupportable. Of Medicare, Rep. Bill Thomas said at the time, “One of the biggest problems is that the government tries to administer 10,000 prices in 3,000 counties, and it gets it wrong most of the time.” But change never comes.
Medicaid is the worst medicine in the United States. It grinds on. Doctors in droves are withdrawing from Medicare. No matter. It all lives on.
An established political idea is like a vampire. Facts, opinions, votes, garlic: Nothing can make it die.
But there is one thing that can kill an established political idea. It will die if the public that embraced it abandons it.
Six months ago, that didn’t seem likely. Now it does.
The public’s dislike of ObamaCare isn’t growing with every new poll for reasons of philosophical attachment to notions of liberty and choice. Fear of ObamaCare is growing because a cascade of news suggests that ObamaCare is an impending catastrophe.
Henninger writes that “The odds of ObamaCare’s eventual self-collapse look stronger every day. After that happens, then what? Try truly universal health insurance? Not bloody likely if the aghast U.S. public has any say.” But I’ll bet you could find similar passages written in the mid-1940s in England, when nationally socialized medicine was first proposed by leftists there (ironically, while England was fighting another form of national socialism), and it’s still trundling on. Henninger mentions Medicaid and Medicare, which are still ongoing.
Regarding welfare, as Steve Hayward in the first volume of The Age of Reagan:
By 1969, while the nonwhite unemployment rate had fallen by half and overall poverty had fallen by 25 percent during the previous five years, the welfare caseload had doubled. [Patrick] Moynihan plotted these two trends on a graph for Nixon; the diverging lines became known as “Moynihan’s scissors.” “The more one knows about welfare,” Moynihan wrote to Nixon, “the more horrible it becomes … the system destroys those who receive it, and corrupts those who dispense it.”
But welfare reform wouldn’t come for another three and a half decades, and even today, “Welfare pays more than work in most states,” as the Daily Caller noted last month.
President Reagan famously said that “A government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we’ll ever see on this earth.” And if ObamaCare rolls out next week, its creators are hoping for a similar form of legislative immortality. Comparing Ted Cruz’s fillibuster on Tuesday to the anti-Soviet Union protests of Anatoly Sharansky at his Legal Insurrection blog, William A. Jacobson writes:
Jay Nordlinger’s 2005 interview with Sharansky recounts not only the episode in the snow, but also the final moments when Sharansky walked to the car for the exchange:
Sharansky spent nine years in the Gulag, a harrowing time in which he demonstrated what resistance is. More than 400 of those days were spent in punishment cells; more than 200 were spent on hunger strikes. His refusal to concede anything to the Soviet state was almost superhuman. This was true to the very last. When they relinquished him to the East Germans, they told him to walk straight to a waiting car — “Don’t make any turns.” Sharansky zig-zagged his way to that car.
Isn’t it time for conservatives and supporters of free enterprise, individual liberty, and capitalism in the Congress and elsewhere to do the political equivalent of sitting down in the snow? When told by the new administration, the majority party in Congress, and the mainstream media to walk straight, isn’t it time to zig and zag?
Sitting in the snow was not a rational strategy for Sharansky.
Had it been the fight against Obamacare, supposedly wiser people than he would have counseled caution, urging him to wait until the Soviet Union collapsed of its own weight to make his stand. Not realizing that stands such as that taken by Sharansky in the snow ultimately would cause the collapse.
I’ve enjoyed (and linked to) a number of columns by Dan Henninger, but I think he’s clearly wrong on this one (at least on the concept of doing nothing; he could well be correct that Obamacare will eventually collapse under the wait of its own illogic). As John Hayward writes at the Breitbart.com Conversation group blog, on the increasingly angry (and racialist, and eliminationist) rhetoric coming out of the White House, the port side of the aisle in both houses of Congress, and their enablers in the MSM, “It’s awfully convenient for Democrats to have rules of engagement that let them be as bitter, partisan, divisive, and stubborn as they want to be:”
It’s awfully convenient for Democrats to have rules of engagement that let them be as bitter, partisan, divisive, and stubborn as they want to be. Wendy Davis and her crew can literally shout down a legislature in service of a position with less than 40 percent popular support, after demonstrating shocking ignorance of the legislation she opposed, and still be hailed as dashboard saints of principled courage. Ted Cruz, who understands ObamaCare better than a single blessed soul among the liars, thieves, and con artists who wrote it, is a threat to the Republic who must be burned at the stake by weak-kneed GOP elders to appease the Angry Liberal Gods. Barack Obama routinely questions the very humanity of the people who disagree with him – one of his favorite little talking points is musing aloud that critics of ObamaCare enjoy depriving people of health care. But don’t you dare say a word about Democrats’ unseemly enthusiasm for terminating young lives in the womb – that would be ugly and divisive.
I don’t think he necessarily intended it that way, but Henninger’s prescription is yet another call to “just shut up.” And shutting up is the last thing the the GOP, the Tea Party, and conservatives and libertarians in general should be doing now:
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Related: “Opposing Obamacare Isn’t Anarchy.”