Commentary Magazine


Is It Wrong to Root for ObamaCare to Fail?

As Democrats attempt to deflect the torrent of criticism coming their way in the wake of an ObamaCare rollout that was an undeniable fiasco, one of their key talking points centers around an attempt to blame it all on mean Republicans who can’t let go of their opposition of the president’s signature legislation. As liberal blogger Ezra Klein wrote in the Washington Post, there’s a certain cognitive dissonance involved when those who actually want to repeal a piece of legislation complain that it is being incompetently administered. Maybe so. However, the implication coming from many of the administration’s defenders is that there’s something inappropriate if not unpatriotic about anyone wanting the government to fail. It’s almost as if they’re saying that hoping for ObamaCare to crash and burn is like rooting against the U.S. Marines if you didn’t happen to approve of the president’s decision to send them to fight in a particular war. After all, we all follow the flag and support our troops no matter what we think of the commander in chief or his policies. Or at least we should.

But ObamaCare is not the moral equivalent of an unpopular war. It’s a massive government program whose implementation infringes on the liberty of citizens (forcing them to purchase a product they may or may not want), taxing them in the form of penalties, and expanding the scope of government interference in a major industry and almost certainly damaging the economy. ObamaCare may not fail in the sense that it is theoretically possible that the administration will eventually figure out how to run a website, implement its provisions, and enforce it, though, given its track record, that is far from a given.

But those who believe it to be a wrongheaded and dangerous scheme are fully within their rights to hope that it collapses of its own weight long before it becomes part of the basic infrastructure of the federal leviathan. Indeed, conservative arguments against it have always centered, at least in part, on the fact that government simply hasn’t the competence to run health care and should not be allowed to try. Why should we blame them for saying “I told you so” as they toast the hard work of Kathleen Sebelius and the rest of the president’s minions to prove them right?

In claiming that Republicans are wrong to root against ObamaCare, Democrats also attempt to spin this as a heartless attempt to rip health insurance from the hands of the needy. From this point of view, the plight of those who stand to benefit from the plan are analogous to the spilled blood of Americans fighting for their country while Republicans sit on their hands. But again this is nonsense. Republicans, in particular Rep. Paul Ryan, had their own plans for expanding health coverage without creating the vast structure of ObamaCare. Since they believe that the president’s bill was not only poorly written but bound to cause as much if not more harm to the rest of the country (like those who are losing their jobs due to companies cutting back in reaction to the prospect of the government enforcing the employer mandate), what they are doing is nothing more than advocacy for an alternative to legislation that remains as unpopular today as it was when the president forced it down the country’s throat on a partisan vote enabled by legislative trickery.

It is true, as Klein warns, that if ObamaCare fails, Democrats will be back not with a smaller, more manageable idea comparable to Ryan’s suggestions, but with a massive single payer system that will really be the next step toward socialized medicine. But rather than causing conservatives to swallow the so-called compromise of ObamaCare, it is rightly motivating them to draw a line in the sand across which liberal statists ought not to be allowed to cross.

The truth is, ObamaCare’s flaws are baked into the system it is trying to impose on the country and not just a matter of website “glitches.” It is likely to continue to careen from one disaster to another over the course of its life whether the GOP is chortling about it or not. This is a tragedy for the country. But the sooner we find this out the better. A flawed idea from the start, all its critics are doing to ObamaCare at this point is holding up a mirror to the administration’s failure and warning the country not to repeat their mistakes. If that’s wrong, I don’t want to be right.

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