Watching the Wheels Come Off Obamacare
And now for news of fresh Obamacare disaster: The Obamacare headlines of like a pinata stuffed to the brim with fail or perhaps an even better metaphor that I can't immediately come up with. But in any case, there are so many train wreck stories in there, it's difficult to know where to begin. As Steve Green writes today, the wheels have come off Obamacare:
The pols and pundits can argue and fingerpoint until they’re blue in the — finger? — but Obamacare’s numbers paint a bleak picture of broken promises and outright lies. After a full month, nearly 40,000 people have successfully signed up for health insurance at HealthCare.gov, out of an administration goal of over seven million by the end of March. At that rate, the administration will have met its goal sometime in the autumn — of 2028.
Mind you, the goal of Obamacare was to provide coverage for some 47,000,000 uninsured Americans. So take those 15 years and multiply them by about seven. You’re gonna need a bigger calculator.
Which, somewhat astonishingly, given their past love of Mr. Obama, the Associated Press is happy to provide: "AP estimate: At least 3.5 million people have had their health insurance canceled," Ed Morrissey writes at Hot Air:
Via Ace, emphasis on “at least.” Remember the number, because ObamaCare fans much prefer to talk in percentages when discussing the program’s losers. Jon Gruber told New York magazine last week that, of the roughly six percent of the population that buys insurance on the individual market, half are at risk of being slapped with a cancellation notice by their insurer and forced to buy a new, more expensive plan. To Gruber, that’s an acceptable casualty rate: “Don’t get me wrong, that’s a shame, but no law in the history of America makes everyone better off.” It fell to Ryan Lizza, the author of the New York piece, to remind readers that three percent equals nine million people. To put that in perspective, the number of active duty servicemen and reserves across the entire U.S. armed forces is only 2.3 million. It’d be like hitting the entire population of New Jersey with a premium hike — or, if you prefer, the total population of the 10 least populous states. If your new boondoggle is predicated on the idea that you can’t make an omelette without breaking a few eggs, which number would you rather be pushing as “a few”? Three percent? Or nine million?
But while statistics are one thing, horrible optics involving the powerful attacking an individual person are even worse: "Despicable: WH smears cancer survivor who lost her insurance plan due to Obamacare," as spotted by Twitchy:
@pfeiffer44 The White House is attacking a cancer patient. Remarkable. @TPHealth
— jon gabriel (@exjon) November 4, 2013
If only someone had seen all this coming. Oh wait, besides half the country, that is. Or as Glenn Reynolds writes in his latest USA Today column, "Maybe the next elected president will think before he enacts big change:"
Back when President Obama was first elected, the folks at Amazon offered a presidential reading list. My own recommendation for him was James Scott's Seeing Like A State: How Certain Schemes To Improve The Human Condition Have Failed. Obama should have taken it.
Scott, a Yale professor and no right-winger, produced a lengthy catalog of centrally planned disasters: Everything from compulsory villagization in Tanzania, to the collectivization of agriculture in the Soviet Union, to the "Authoritarian High Modernism" that led to immense, unlivable housing projects and the destruction of urban life in cities around the world. The book stands as a warning to hubristic technocrats: You may think you understand how things work, and how people will respond to your carefully (or, often, not-so-carefully) laid plans, but you are likely to be wrong, and the result is likely to be somewhere between tragedy and farce. The world is more complicated than planners are capable of grasping -- and so, for that matter, are the people who inhabit it.
Which Hayek, von Mises and other opponents of central planning, whether in America or elsewhere knew a couple of generations ago. But then, as Benjamin Franklin once said, "Experience keeps a dear school, but fools will learn in no other." Kingsley Amis once joked that Robert Conquest should have titled his history of the Soviet Union and his prediction that it would ultimately fail, "I told you so, you f***ing fools."
Plenty of people told the Obama administration that this would fail as well. But their titular boss believed that he knew better.
And of this news of fresh disaster is why, at least for now, the House GOP is letting Obamacare's fails speak for themselves, as Ed Morrissey writes:
Napoleon once said, “Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.” House Republicans have decided to follow that advice, often reiterated by John Boehner, according to National Journal’s Tim Alberta and Billy House. Rather than launch a public-relations attack on ObamaCare, they’re going to let it speak for itself and head home for the recess:Amid the drip-drip-drip of problems surrounding the Affordable Care Act, House Republicans appear to be seriously considering the notion that the best course may be to pipe down and allow Obamacare supporters to continue bleeding.
“To put it in context, we should just try to get out of our own damn way for now,” said one House GOP leadership aide.
“I am a proponent of a single-payer universal healthcare program,” then-Illinois state senator Obama said in 2003, back before he was politically required to pretend that he endorsed no such thing. “All of you know we might not get there immediately, because first we have to take back the White House, we have to take back the Senate, and we have to take back the House.”
As spotted by Kevin D. Williamson in his 2010 book, The Politically Incorrect Guide to Socialism:
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Related: "64% of Small Businesses Report Higher Health Insurance Costs as Obamacare Slashes Profits."
I'm sure the Obama administration would dismiss this complaint in exactly the same way that Hillary Clinton did 20 years ago, when she was told that small businesses would be crippled by her own attempt at socialized medicine: "Look, I can't save every undercapitalized entrepreneur in America."
Update: At NRO, Quin Hillyer agrees with Speaker Boehner's apparent strategy:
Democrats are pleading for help, in the face of the implosion of Obamacare. House Republicans confronted with these pleas should listen to those who say: “Don’t do something; just stand there.”
It was Obama and the Democratic Senate who caused the disaster now unfolding. Specifically, Democratic red- or swing-state senators such as Mary Landrieu (La.), Kay Hagan (N.C.), Mark Begich (Alaska), Mark Pryor (Ark.), and even Al Franken (Minn.) provided key votes to adopt the monstrosity without a single ballot to spare. Let them face the music; let them reap the consequences. And let them try to fix what’s utterly unfixable.
If they want to delay the individual mandate, fine: They can go first. If they want to fix the grandfathering rules so that people who want to keep their plans really can do so, fine: They can go first on that, too. Let them figure out the details. Let them try to make it work. The House can always vote to add its assent once the Senate has acted — all while noting, accurately, that even the delay or the grandfathering fix won’t make the whole of Obamacare successful or popular.
But with each fruitless effort to correct the uncorrectable, the vulnerable Senate Democrats effectively will be acknowledging that they were wrong to begin with.
Read the whole thing.™