Robert Samuelson has a must-read Washington Post column on ObamaCare. Pointing out that the country’s fiscal situation is terrible right now, Samuelson writes that
a prudent society would embark on long-term policies to control health costs, reduce government spending, and curb massive future deficits. The administration estimates these at $9 trillion from 2010 to 2019. The president and all his top economic advisers proclaim the same cautionary message.
So, what do they do? Just the opposite.
The question, of course, is why? Why a massive overhaul of the American health-care system that anyone honest knows will cost far more than advertised, instead of concentrating on reviving the economy and lowering the deficit, which are the primary concerns of the people in poll after poll?
Why not make incremental improvements in the health-care system, such as 1) allowing people to buy insurance across state lines, 2) reforming tort law, 3) allowing small companies to band together to buy insurance at lower prices, and 4) requiring health-care providers to post prices for standard procedures? These actions would cost the government not a single red cent (and red they are, as they are all borrowed) and would greatly lower health-care costs at the same time, a political win-win if ever there was one.
It is hard not to draw the conclusion that Obama, Pelosi & Co. see this as a one-time opportunity to make socialized medicine inevitable. By destroying the current health-care system under the name of reform, they would make single-payer unavoidable. The fact that the majority of the American people, as measured in numerous polls, don’t want single-payer is, apparently, a matter to which they are indifferent. The fact that the fiscal situation can only sharply deteriorate in the process is likewise not something they seem to care about.
The analogy being drawn is with Franklin Roosevelt, who moved a deeply isolationist country toward war with the Axis powers before Pearl Harbor because he believed that it was in the interests of the American people, even though they opposed it at the time. But that is a false analogy. Foreign-policy situations can be irreversible and time-sensitive. Had Roosevelt not done what he did, Germany might easily have ended up supreme in Europe and thus in a position from which it would have directly menaced the United States while being exceedingly difficult to defeat (how do you invade Europe without Britain as a base?).
But if we don’t radically reform health care today, we can still do it two years or five years from now when the economy and the deficit are much improved. People will still be adequately, often splendidly, cared for in the meantime. With the incremental reforms listed above, we might well find out that the system doesn’t need much reform in five years.
That, of course, is exactly why Obama wants it done now. He is bent on sharply shifting power in the direction of the government, away from individuals and the free market, and is willing to defy both the public and fiscal sanity to achieve this goal.