The "Insanity" of Obamacare

Who are the real crazies when it comes to pushing for bigger government?

Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank recently poked some fun at the GOP and its tenacious -- and, evidently, hopeless -- insistence on voting to roll back provisions of Obamacare. Surely, you've heard about Albert Einstein's apocryphal quote defining insanity as doing something over and over again and expecting different results.

The left, you may notice, rarely holds that sort of defeatist attitude about "the law of the land" -- not on gay marriage or immigration or No Child Left Behind or, well, any other injustice Washington throws at it. Persistence is a virtue in those cases. In this case, for Republicans (and more than 20 insane Democrats who voted to delay the individual mandate for another year), the choice is madness or surrender.

That's fine. But there are many definitions of insanity. Take the one offered by "Prozac Nation" author Elizabeth Wurtzel: "Insanity is knowing that what you're doing is completely idiotic, but still, somehow, you just can't stop it." That brings me to President Barack Obama's Thursday speech kicking off yet another campaign to persuade the public to ignore all available evidence about the Affordable Care Act.

"I recognize that there are still a lot of folks -- in (Washington), at least -- who are rooting for this law to fail," Obama tells us. True. But also outside of Washington. Small businesses, for instance. It would be madness, no, to implement a law that would cause (as a recent U.S. Chamber of Commerce survey found) 74 percent of small businesses to fire workers, cut off hiring and cut work hours during the middle of a stagnant economy? It would be lunacy to create an environment that (according to a deep dive by Louise Radnofsky at The Wall Street Journal) would mean consumers seeing insurance rates "double or even triple when they look for individual coverage." Why would we not reform aspects of a law that many experts predict will trigger companies to avoid federal penalties by offering limited plans sans many benefits, such as hospital coverage, and push people onto subsidized "exchanges"?

Obama singled out states such as California and Oregon for cutting rates in their exchanges, even though he knows that the evidence supporting those claims is arguable at best. He pointed to New York, where the state exchange claims that it will cut rates by 50 percent. But as Avik Roy pointed out in National Review, in 2010 the average per-person monthly premiums in the New York individual market were not "$1,000 or more," as New York claims, but $357. Moreover, New York's highly regulated and expensive insurance market -- a place that will have some of the highest rates in the nation -- spiked in the first place because of Obamacare-style regulatory reforms. Wouldn't it be insanity to force other states down the same road?

"You're going to see competition in ways that we haven't seen before," says the president, mimicking the language of his opponents, because "market forces" are pushing prices down. We have the ability to buy TVs in this manner, Obama says, so why not health care? Guess what. My television was made in South Korea, and no one forced me to buy one. If we believed that market forces cut prices, the sane thing to do would be to open competition up nationally (even internationally), allowing consumers to buy any kind of plan they want, from anyone they want, rather than have a fabricated, closed, price-controlled exchange.

Obama reiterated that the law will help many people who don't have health care, and that's true. Republicans have to confront the reality of that situation. But the evidence also shows that the Affordable Care Act, as it stands, does little for the majority of Americans. So how is moving forward with a massive government overhaul an act of sanity?

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  • Warrren||

    Why do you refuse to let the LIGHT illuminate you?

  • Ted S.||

    Show me on the doll where the LIGHT illuminated you.

  • Warrren||

    It's the anus, Ted. That's where they shove the illuminater. In the anus.

  • Ted S.||

    This whole article is based on a logical fallacy: that Obamacare's proponents want it to work.

  • AlgerHiss||

    You people that voted for this skinny little Marxist, gaseous twerp should be ashamed.

    But of course, you're not. You're still as ignorant and worthless as you were in 2008.

  • Gozer the Gozerian||

    "McCain/Romney would have been worse!"

  • JWatts||

    Your average Obama voter would definitely be getting less "Free" stuff from either a McCain or Romney presidency. So yes, they would have been worse, judged from the perspective of the pig at the trough.

  • Tony||

    Again, ranting about your opponent is not a political philosophy. What is libertarianism's positive vision for universal healthcare in this country?

    If you don't think we should have universal healthcare, fine, just say so. You can't blame people for wanting to live in a civilized country though.

    The ACA is not the devil; it's a Republican-invented corporate-friendly attempt to distribute healthcare cost risk more broadly than it was before. It's bound not to be as successful as a more ambitious approach that distributes the risk even more evenly (Medicare for all).

    But you don't need 40 symbolic votes to repeal the ACA to demonstrate Republicans' insanity. I mean, have you ever heard them speak? Their only policy vision is destroy whatever Obama did or tries to do, because Obama is the devil, and to not rest until the country is walled off and there's a gun in the hand of every fetus.

  • PapayaSF||

    Reign in the AMA, the FDA, and the trial lawyers. Repeal "certificate of need" laws. Allow sales of health insurance across state lines. Scale back health insurance mandates. Allow nurses and pharmacists to do more. Encourage pricing transparency.

    I'm sure others could add to the list.

  • Tony||

    It's a fantasy to think that would result in universality.

  • Sevo||

    Tony| 7.19.13 @ 7:51PM |#
    "It's a fantasy to think that would result in universality."

    Shithead, those strawmen won't burn themselves, will they?

  • PH2050||

    "It's a fantasy to think that would result in universality."

    I agree, the ACA will accomplish no such thing.

  • ||

    You may be mistaking us for people who are "corporate-friendly".

    Also, I'd like it if you would please keep your risks to yourself. I would prefer not to share in them.

  • Tony||

    Then you can take on all the risks of protecting your property.

  • ||

    Totally. Because securing property rights with courts and police is the exact same as coercing people into purchasing a service from a limited selection of companies with government-controlled offerings.

    Don't forget ROADZ!!!!!

  • Sevo||

    Tony| 7.19.13 @ 7:51PM |#
    "Then you can take on all the risks of protecting your property."

    Yes, shithead, that's the reason I buy insurance as I need, not as assholes like you prefer.

  • ||

    I think I could handle that. Just let me keep all my taxes, including income and sales taxes, and I'm pretty sure I could take care of it.

    Of course, I wouldn't be paying for people to go around kidnapping people for using drugs. Or prostitutes. I'm pretty sure I could pay for someone to come fill out a report after a home invasion in a much more cost-effective manner than the way I am doing it now.

  • ||

    Sure. But you won't object if I shoot people who cross it, then, ok?

    No right to self-ownership = no right not to get killed.

  • Tony||

    Yes, I realize your rhetoric implies anarchy.

  • ||

    So, why don't we just agree that people are self-owners -including the right to own the products of their labor - and that we're going to have courts that enforce that right?

  • FYTW||

    It's not that I don't want universal healthcare, Tony. Who doesn't want free beer? It's just that, as a grown-up with a functioning brain, I understand that there is no such thing as free beer. To have universal healthcare you also have to have grotesque wealth transfers, whereby some people are forced to pay for the healthcare costs of other people.

    And, quite frankly, that is what I don't want. If some asshole like you gets sick, I don't want to be forced to pay to prolong your worthless existence (though I'd certainly pay admission to watch you suffer and die).

  • Sevo||

    FYTW| 7.19.13 @ 8:00PM |#
    "It's not that I don't want universal healthcare, Tony. Who doesn't want free beer? It's just that, as a grown-up with a functioning brain, I understand that there is no such thing as free beer."

    Now why did you go and blow shithead's strawman? I mean, he spent a minute or two trying to come up with some brain-dead utopia and here you just told hem he's full of shit.
    Is that nice?
    BTW, shithead, you're eyes are brown because you're that full of shit.

  • ||

    If you don't think we should have universal healthcare, fine, just say so.

    I don't think we should have universal health care.

    You can't blame people for wanting to live in a civilized country though.

    Ranting about your opponent is not a political philosophy. Remember, Tony? Taking someone else's money at the point of a gun does not become any more civilized if you can rally a 50%+1 mob to condone it. Fuck off, slaver.

  • ||

    Btw, doesn't Democratic Underground ever give you guys any fresh copypasta? You're rapidly approaching the point where I'm not sure you'd pass a Turing test.

  • Sevo||

    Tony| 7.19.13 @ 5:45PM |#
    "Again, ranting about your opponent is not a political philosophy. What is libertarianism's positive vision for universal healthcare in this country?"

    Shithead, if you are serious in asking that question, you're dumber than I thought, and I wasn't sure that was even possible for someone breathing without mechanical assistance.

  • Sevo||

    Tony| 7.19.13 @ 5:45PM |#
    "If you don't think we should have universal healthcare, fine, just say so."

    Man, you got a package deal on strawmen, didn't you?
    'If you don't think the world should be perfect, fine, just say so'.
    Shithead, what was shat by your fave liar (and his hag lieutenant) has nothing to do with universal healthcare.
    Now, what do you really mean? Might it be something along the lines of 'I'm such a wonderful person!'? Something like that, shithead?
    You're not. Your a steaming pile of shit who would gladly murder millions in your self-righteous pursuit of ego.

  • ||

    If you don't think we should have universal healthcare, fine, just say so.

    This is where Tony shows us all that we're not embracing the complexity of the world. We're too simplistic.

    The entire health care issue boils down to one question: do you like everyone having healthcare, or not?

    Thanks for showing us how complicated it can be, Tony.

  • Tony||

    Well given that every other advanced country has managed it--at lower per capita cost than us--suggests that it's both possible and good policy, so yeah it is the relevant question.

  • Jordan||

    Those countries also generally have less healthcare consumption and have much healthier lifestyles/diets, lower violent crime rates, lower auto accident rates, lower teen pregnancy rates, lower drug abuse rates, etc.

    Of course they perform worse on 5-year cancer survival rates, which are not influenced by non-healthcare related factors.

  • ||

    Well given that every other advanced country has managed it--at lower per capita cost than us--suggests that it's both possible and good policy, so yeah it is the relevant question.

    This just shows your predilection for simplifying complex issues. When you consider per capita cost, you're ignoring many factors.

    Other than the ones that Jordan pointed out, in Canada, they have lower per capita cost, in terms of money. They also wait in line for doctors, because supply and demand are screwed up. So, instead of a monetary cost, they have a time to treatment cost, and all the associated problems that causes. Many people get too frustrated waiting for the healthcare they need, and go buy it in a country that doesn't make such a purchase illegal: any country other than Cuba, North Korea, or Canada.

    But, as most progressives do, you can't deal with that complexity. So, it gets ignored. It's a combination of McNamara fallacy and policy-based evidence making.

  • lap83||

    Political vision for universal healthcare in this country:

    Stop fucking talking about universal healthcare because it's impossible because HEALTHCARE is not the same as medical care. Healthcare is not gastric bypass surgery, it's exercising and eating right. All the regulation and bureaucracy in the world will not force people to make healthy choices.

  • PH2050||

    "All the regulation and bureaucracy in the world will not force people to make healthy choices."

    If all that power isn't used to save just one life, what good is it? /prog

  • Arn0||

    Obamacare is not "universal healthcare".

    Anyway even if universal healthcare were a legitimate goal to the government is up to each state to do it by it's own way.

    Even in the European Union each state as it's own system, including very small country like Luxembourg.

  • Sevo||

    ""You're going to see competition in ways that we haven't seen before," says the president,"

    Yeah, Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum will compete in the 'We Love Obozoscare' competition. The world will watch paint dry.

  • PH2050||

    Gray and black market medical care is what he's referring to but he's too stupid to know that.

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