A simple yet embarrassing question has been exposed by recent revelations that many Republicans love Obamacare: If they regard the core element of Obamacare – the price-hiking, market-destroying regulations – as not only tolerable but necessary and laudable, what right did they have to say they opposed Obamacare and to talk it down to the public? If we are to take their position to its logical conclusion, Obama was not just mostly right, he was 100 percent correct in doing what he did. As such, they owe him an apology.
Health care is the seminal issue of our time: the dividing line between an economic conservative and a socialist. Either we believe we can regulate, subsidize, and mandate our way into solvency and have government and lobbyists run health care, or we can have consumers and providers lead the way. Either we have a health care system that looks like the innovations of Amazon and Uber or one that looks like a Venezuelan supermarket.
After a half-century of price-hiking interventions, regulations, and subsidies, we have nothing to show for our over $1 trillion in federal spending other than record high prices and an industry that bears no resemblance to any other marketplace, whose insolvency itself will engender further subsidies in the coming years that dwarf current spending. We either double down on the counterintuitive pursuit of universal coverage, or we focus on lowering costs and restoring the concept of insurance to health insurance. There is no middle ground on supporting Obamacare. There is nothing moderate, centrist, or even mildly liberal about supporting Obamacare, especially when the market destruction is unmistakably apparent before our own eyes.
Yet the liberal Republicans are now even balking at a watered-down compromise plan that doesn’t repeal the subsidies, Medicaid expansion, or most of the regulations in a meaningful way. Even “mainstream” Republicans are only tolerating the latest deal from the Freedom Caucus, but never wanted to touch the core regulations in any way. Deputy Whip Patrick McHenry, for example, emoted about the loss of the coverage mandates and how it would harm people. When the Washington Examiner’s Philip Klein asked Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.), a key liberal Republican, how he expected to lower premiums if he likes the regulations, he replied, “That’s the $64,000 question.”
This begs the real question, what exactly is it about Obamacare that they don’t like and what right did they have to criticize Obama when running for office or when serving in Congress during the enactment of the law?
Let’s work this to its logical conclusion. There are five key elements of Obamacare, at least as it pertains to health insurance: regulations, subsidies, purchase mandates (employer and individual), taxes, and Medicaid expansion. The phony Republicans love the core regulations that make health insurance insolvent. They love the subsidies that are needed to sugar-coat the destruction. They will not cede an inch on Medicaid expansion and think it is the greatest idea since sliced bread, even though the cost of covering an individual in the subpar program rose from $3,247 per individual in 2011 to $6,366 after the implementation. And the care is worse than ever, yet serves as a bailout for hospital lobbies.
This leaves us with the taxes and the mandates. But how can liberal Republicans rail against the taxes and mandates if they fully support, laud, defend, and fight for the key elements of Obamacare? Once you agree that we need the actuarily insolvent regulations, every economist – from right to left – will tell you that we need an individual and employer mandate so that younger and healthier people pay into the system and don’t game it out. And once you are funding the cost-crushing subsidies and Medicaid expansion, which they love so dearly, where is the money going to come from? Taxes, of course. As such, Democrats were right to raise taxes primarily on the very wealthy.
What exactly is their complaint?
Obviously, as conservatives, we know Obamacare to be an immoral abomination that ensures no middle-class family can live with dignity without subpar government-run health care. But in all honesty, if Republicans actually think Obama was implementing “vital patient protections,” as they describe in the draft summary of their own “repeal” bill, then it is the ultimate form of impertinence for them to bash Obamacare on the campaign trail. They should be praising Obama for what he did.
But the scam pac, otherwise known as the GOP, must continue. They must market some phony promise or idea to voters in order to gain market share of conservative voters. Democrats already have a monopoly over liberals. Hence, Republicans run on our views and then ensure that liberal policies persists … so they can go and complain about them during the next election. This is why they all claim to be pro-life but refuse to even discuss defunding Planned Parenthood, even after the video expose of their organ harvesting, despite controlling all branches of government.
This latest exercise in political perfidy represents everything wrong with politics and why conservative ideas are so ill-served being trapped in the contaminated body of the GOP. Voters respect principle and consistency. There is a reason why Obamacare is now suddenly twice as popular as it ever has been over the past six years, despite Democrats losing three elections on the issue. Did Obamacare get better? No, it’s more insolvent than ever. It’s that Republicans have used their message apparatus to spread dishonesty. And through their equivocations, lies, and hypocrisy, they have conveyed the message that Obamacare was indeed justified and is, for the most part, vital to sustain.
There is no greater boost to a policy than having the other political party vouch for its veracity. Now it’s time they officially do so, transparently — and run in a Democrat primary.
Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.