Ron Radosh

The Future—As Seen from Restoration Weekend


Ann Coulter at Restoration Weekend. (Photo by author.)


I’m writing this column from Restoration Weekend, the yearly confab of the David Horowitz Freedom Center, a good a place as any to get a sense the mood of conservatives and Republicans, as they watch the implosion of Obamacare alongside the entire nation.

The political journalist Michael Barone told me at lunch that he thinks it’s the equivalent of the fall of France, when the great nation collapsed in a few days during World War II. Despite differences between Tea Party conservatives and other Republicans, all seemed to agree that Obamacare will get only worse and that the emphasis of all campaigns should be on presenting market-based alternatives to the worst policy fiasco in our nation’s history.

With her usual sharp humor, Ann Coulter warned of the dangers of wasting time and effort challenging Republicans already in House or Senate seats during primaries, with so-called “more pure” conservatives, many of whom never won elected office and have no experience. Coulter said such candidates are only chosen because someone has proclaimed them more conservative, singling out in particular Jim DeMint for intervening in a Georgia primary against a solid conservative with popular support. She also said she wished Liz Cheney would have gone to South Carolina to live and waged a campaign against Lindsey Graham, instead of challenging a conservative incumbent in Wyoming who otherwise would definitely win his seat again. During another panel, Fox News contributor and former Bush administration official Richard Grenell argued the opposite, praising Cheney for running, since he regards her as someone not afraid to take on Washington in support of tough foreign policy positions needed to offset the many fiascos of the current administration in Syria, Benghazi, and Iran.

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And so we get to the growing disaster of Obamacare, the problem of which was boldly displayed on television a night ago by Fox News’ liberal contributor Kirsten Powers. By now, most of you have heard of her angry rant about the cancellation of her very good insurance policy, which gave her exactly the coverage she wanted, which was not substandard, and which she would have to replace with a  policy on the exchanges that would cost more and give her less, and force her to pay for coverage she did not need or want. As Powers put it:

My blood pressure goes up every time they say that they’re protecting us from substandard health insurance plans, because there is nothing to support what they’re saying. I have talked about how I am losing my health insurance. I’m having, if I want to keep the same health insurance, it’s going to cost twice as much. There’s nothing substandard about my plan. All of the things they say that are not in my plan are in my plan, all of the things they have listed. There’s no explanation for the doubling of my premiums other than the fact that it’s subsidizing other people.

They need to be honest about that, that that’s the reason they don’t want to change it. It’s because they’re basically taking the people who are responsible enough to get health insurance in the individual market and asking them to subsidize other people. So they’re taking young healthy people and asking them to subsidize other people. I don’t think that’s going to last, frankly. I think they’re trying to buy time until they think they’re going to reach this next deadline.

Powers hits upon the very premise of Obamacare. It is meant not as a health policy, but as a mechanism for redistribution of wealth, created in the guise of medical insurance. By insisting that people pay for what they do not need, it is in effect a mandated policy imposed on the young and healthy, who are asked to pay big bucks for things they don’t need, to cover the costs of elderly people on the exchanges whose medical needs they will be paying for.

That is the big secret about why people are getting cancellation letters for their individual policies and why, much later, people who get policies through employers will find the firms they work for dropping the policies and forcing them into the Obama exchanges as well. It was meant to do precisely that, because otherwise the entire program would collapse.

On Facebook, University of Chicago political scientist Charles Lipson explained its real meaning in these words:

Why do I keep emphasizing the fundamental problems with Obamacare? Not just because I think it is a full-scale public policy shambles, the worst domestic policy mistake since high-rise public housing. Not just because I think the President either didn’t understand his own signature achievement or else he deliberately deceived the public when he said you could keep your policy and your doctor. Not just because the same problems that affect individual insurance policies will swamp group plans next year. Not just because I think the President’s statement yesterday was lawless when he said he would simply ignore the ACA’s specific provisions. (What happened to his constitutional oath to faithfully execute the laws?) All these are indicia of a deeper problem: Washington has become an overreaching Nanny State, run by smug elites who know better than ordinary people what we should do, think, buy, invade, or snoop on. This Nanny State is precisely the GOAL of this administration, sometimes nudging but more often simply ordering. It goes well beyond providing an essential safety net, which I favor. It starts to mandate more and more behavior, strip away the liberties of a free people, transfer wealth for the sake of distributional equity, and muddle headlong into complex markets with no understanding of the unintended consequences. That is EXACTLY what you are seeing with Obamacare. It raises the most fundamental questions about the country’s future–ultimately a choice between a European-style social democracy and an American-style central government of limited and specified powers.

Lipson has it right. Barack Obama is trying his best to implement “the fundamental transformation” of the United States he spoke about as his goal in the 2008 presidential campaign. Obamacare is but the first step. It is now up to conservatives and Republicans to stop fighting each other, and to unite around the common goal of stopping the political victory of the Left, embodied in the program that exemplifies its goals and that is now slowly eroding. No wonder the people attending Restoration Weekend are optimistic about the future.