In Praise of John Roberts
OK, not really praise; Roberts's failure to strangle the Obamacare baby in its crib when he had the chance will go down alongside the Dred Scott decision as one of the greatest moral disasters in the history of the republic. The man in charge of enforcing the Constitution blinked when confronted with a triumphalist party and a then-popular president, forgetting that he, Roberts, would likely be in Washington long after Obama was gone. In an attempt to save the Supreme Court's reputation and standing, he destroyed it.
Still, even if inadvertently, Roberts got one thing right: the Patient Deflection and Unaffordable Care Act is a tax, and nothing but a tax. A punitive, regressive tax, to be sure -- but a tax nonetheless. A tax on ideological stupidity, as its supporters are just now learning. Just wait til the "employer mandate" kicks in.
Remember that the PDUCA has nothing whatsoever to do with "health care." That was just the heartstring-tugging pretense to mask a breathtaking power grab by the Democrats. No one's health will be improved by the passage of this law, although many may well be adversely affected. Nor it is even really about "insurance." For how can we call covering pre-existing conditions "insurance"? You can only insure against something in the future, not something that's already occurred. Call it a socialized risk pool, or some such, but don't call it "insurance."
No, what Obamacare is -- and was always meant to be -- is an onerous tax on the middle class, wearing the usual Leftist disguise of "compassion." With soaring deductibles and higher premiums for all, but "subsidies" for some, it's a huge transfer of wealth from those who can least afford it, prostituting the insurance companies (through which the monies will flow) in the service of a governmental enterprise both unasked for and constitutionally uncalled for.
In effect, what Obamacare does is destroy the concept of insurance completely: if your deductible soars to $6,250 (the "bronze" plan) -- meaning the amount you will have to pay out of your own pocket -- then you might as well not have "insurance" at all, and simply pay a fee for service, at much lower rates. Meanwhile, your "premiums" become an entirely new, unplanned-for expense that will net you... nothing you didn't already have before. Far better to simply buy catastrophic insurance and otherwise pay as you go.
But that would defeat the whole point of Obama's enterprise. As I wrote over at NRO's The Corner in March 2012:
Does anyone — on either side — really think that the Patient Deflection and Unaffordable Care Act is about health care?
For if it’s about “health care,” aren’t there a myriad of ways in which the system could be improved without a “comprehensive” top-down solution? At a time of extreme economic dislocation, was there a nationwide clamor to make “health care” the top priority of the new administration?
Or is it really about the exercise of raw governmental power, to teach the citizenry an object lesson about the coming brave new world, one that surely will get even worse once Obama is safely past the shoals of his last election?
To believe in the “good intentions” of the former — as soft-headed conservatives are sometimes wont to do when crediting the hard Left with anything but sheer malevolence toward the country as founded — is to have to pretzel one’s mind around the internal contradictions of the bill itself (it’s a tax! It’s not a tax!) and the way in which it was imposed just a couple of years ago by a one-party Congress that no longer exists, having been rebuked and sent packing by an outraged electorate.
Far easier to believe in the latter — that Obamacare is just the canary in the coal mine of what’s coming next. That, once having established the hammer, the administration will use Obamacare (should the law be found constitutional) as the anvil upon which to smash the Republic once and for all. And the “progressives’s” Long March through the institutions will finally end in the all-powerful centralized government for which they’ve long yearned.
Sure, it's fun to watch Obamacare implode -- but it helps to remember that its very impracticality is a feature, not a bug. For the cure for "Reform" is always more "Reform," not less. This isn't the end. It's only the beginning. Maybe the next time the Roberts Court has a chance to put this thing out of its misery, it'll take it.