Barack Obama

Two Steps Forward, No Steps Back

The latest version of ObamaCare

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It's not the size that matters.

Today President Barack Obama will unveil health care proposal Part VII. The new House bill, according to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, will be "much smaller" than previous efforts.

After surveying the brutal political conditions facing them, Democrats, it seems, believe that if they lay claim to more modest legislation, they lay claim to a less horrid bill.

If only that were true.

Though a political victory is a must for the Obama presidency, those who are invested ideologically in the promise of government-run health care understand that even a small victory today can be an enduring one.

Once Washington gains a toehold—and considering government controls 49 cents on every health care dollar spent, by "toehold" I mean "bearhug"—it is an inescapable reality that whatever it comes up with will be expansive and expensive.

That's the message Pelosi was telegraphing to her allies when—in addition to pointing out how itty-bitty the bill will be—she added that it will be "big enough" to put the country on a "path" toward sustainable health care reform.

The righteous "path," naturally, ends at the gates of a single-payer system. The infrastructure to reach this objective—price controls, new entitlements, and wide-ranging mandates—will be set in place once Democrats use reconciliation to pass the bill, deal with the short-term electoral consequences and let history work itself out.

You know how it goes: Did you hear about the appalling conditions those children are living under? Gotta expand it. How about the old lady who has 12 prescriptions when she only needs eight? Gotta control costs.

A minor victory for liberalism today also would be a colossal triumph tomorrow because it's improbable—implausible, actually—that Republicans ever would have the fortitude (or the votes in Congress) to repeal most of Obamacare should they regain power.

Remember that state participation in Medicaid is voluntary. What governor would pull out of that or any entitlement program?

Remember that Congress estimated Medicare's cost at $12 billion for 1990 (adjusted for inflation) when the program kicked off, in 1965. Medicare cost $107 billion in 1990 and quickly is approaching $500 billion. Who's going to stop it?

The template is used over and over again. Government is a growth industry.

When you unwrap today's health care reform legislation, nearly every Democratic initiative, small or large, is designed to affect the choices people make through some mechanism of top-down control.

On the flip side, so far, reform legislation has been devoid of any meaningful market-based solutions that would spur a healthier private-insurance sector, guaranteeing consumers will see rates rise and Democrats will have a boogeyman to point to as they "fix" the bill down the road.

I remember asking liberal Rep. Diana DeGette of Colorado—after she, for the umpteenth time, claimed that Republicans had presented no ideas in the health care debate—what she thought of the GOP bills in the House at the time. She replied that they were too small and not "comprehensive" enough to really matter.

Now, apparently, small is OK. Why? It never has been an issue of how comprehensive a plan is, but how invasive it could be.

And no matter how many iterations of health care "reform" are foisted on the nation by Democrats—or what the exact dimensions of those iterations may be or how many public relations angles are deployed to sell them—the core issue has not changed.

Though, it is clear, the tactic of incremental "progress" has been relearned. Don't be fooled. The endgame has not changed.

David Harsanyi is a columnist at The Denver Post and the author of Nanny State. Visit his Web site at www.DavidHarsanyi.com.

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  1. Caption Contest!

    “I thank the committee for awarding me the Nobel in Medicine…”

  2. Is it just me, or even when I agree with Harsanyi, his pieces still come across as sloppy and choppy.

    Reading this was like reading a bunch of paragraphs cut and pasted from other articles.

    Can we vote this guy off the island?

    1. We can’t even get Chapman off the island. And he was a stowaway to begin with!

      1. Maybe the ship will sink 😉
        http://www.reasoncruise.com/

        1. I can see the O’Reilly segment now. How can a cruise line subject the other passengers to this?

          It’s like that Gay Pride day thing at Disneyworld!

          OMG!

        2. Will Karen Howley be there or just a bunch of Reason guy writers?

    2. actually other than that idiotic ron paul article i think harsanyi’s very good. i just pretend that didn’t happen. wish i could say the same of chapman

      1. Aside from that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you like the play?

    3. Harsanyi is usually very sarcastic and wise — a wicked combination when combined with a bit of polish. I’m willing, however, to put up with the lack of polish in some of his pieces to read the gems.

  3. Maybe bankrupting Leviathan is the only thing that we can hope for out of this. On the other hand, here in Europe, they are having to turn back to privatization to control costs. Isn’t that ironic? Liberals in America argue this is needed to control costs, and in Europe they are making the opposite arguments. All of these countries are going broke, and it’s no surprise.

    These are strange days indeed when I talk to Germans every day who want to leave Europe for America. I tell them that it’s not much better there with taxes, but they’ll take 30-40% over the 50+% here. One guy was so depressed by this. He has to give up 50% of all he owns and barely has enough for his family just to enjoy a movie now and then and invest further in his business. And that’s not even figuring in all of the administrative fees for registering a business. In short, he’s stuck with no social mobility. Why? To create social mobility!

    1. “On the other hand, here in Europe, they are having to turn back to privatization to control costs” Where in Europe?

      1. Germany, Netherlands, Denmark, and others. Of course, not all of them.

        1. Bzzt. Thank you for playing. In the Netherlands, there has never been state-run health insurance. They use private insurers, and heavily regulate them like a utility.

          http://bit.ly/j8029

          1. I knew he was full of it but I am still looking at Germany.

            1. Far too often, “libertarian” means “liberty to lie in the service of corporate interests”.

          2. The Dutch system sucks, from my personal experience. When my daughter was diagnosed with a serious emergency eye problem they made an appointment…for three weeks later! It wasn’t until her teacher ‘worked the system’ that she was able to get treated.

            If that’s what you want – go there, but don’t bring that crap here. Their service is about as good as it is in their restaurants – poor and snotty.

    2. But only the right kinds of social mobility. That’s the difference.

  4. “A minor victory for liberalism today also would be a colossal triumph tomorrow because it’s improbable?implausible, actually?that Republicans ever would have the fortitude (or the votes in Congress) to repeal most of Obamacare should they regain power”

    Don’t be so sure of that.

    None of the previous expansions of the welfare state had anywhere near the degree of public opposition to them before they were passed as this one does.

    The political calculus of an entitlement being an eternal sacred cow from the very first nanosecond it is enacted has to break down at some point and now is as good a time as any.

    Particularly so since a byproduct of the dems accouting chicanery to make the cost look smaller means the tax increases (i.e the pain) begins immediately whereas the benefits (i.e the handouts) don’t begin for about 4 years.

    1. Particularly so since a byproduct of the dems accouting chicanery to make the cost look smaller means the tax increases (i.e the pain) begins immediately whereas the benefits (i.e the handouts) don’t begin for about 4 years.

      This. In their haste to pull the wool they forgot to tranquilize the sheep.

      Not to mention that if the Dems cram this thing through and cast the rules of the Senate aside, they’re just asking for the next GOP majority to do the same thing to repeal it… and maybe other entitlements, too.

  5. I can’t believe that Harsanyi has the nerve to show his face around here again. Now where did I put my subscription info…

  6. STFU, Harsanyi.

  7. How do you have a market based healthcare system that is universal that doesn’t have “price controls, new entitlements, and wide-ranging mandates”?

    1. Who says we have to have a universal system?

      That’a a liberal goal – not anyone else’s goal.

      1. Who says we have to have a universal system?

        The standards of modern civilization.

        1. The standards of modern civilization.

          [Citation needed]

          1. Every country you’d want to live in besides this one.

            1. But… I don’t want to live in any of those countries.

        2. Awesome. Sanctimony never dies.

      2. We’ve already got one, actually.

    2. How do you have a market based healthcare system that is universal that doesn’t have “price controls, new entitlements, and wide-ranging mandates”?

      The same way we have, say, a market-based chicken industry. It doesn’t have price controls or entitlements, although I suppose you could say there are some food quality mandates. Yet it is, mirabile dictu, universal. Anyone who wants to can go to a grocery store, pay over their money, and get some chicken.

      1. It’s all so clear to me now.

        Now if only chemotherapy cost $3 a pound.

        1. Tony|3.3.10 @ 5:45PM|#
          “It’s all so clear to me now.
          Now if only chemotherapy cost $3 a pound.”

          Strangely, chicken costs what it does with minimal government interference.
          Wonder what chemo would cost under the same?
          Or what chicken would cost if the government were as involved in the chicken industry as it is in medicine.

          1. Nowhere near cheap enough for poor people to afford. They can’t afford yachts either, and those are only minimally controlled. Don’t see yacht drive-thrus popping up any time soon.

            This is why we already have medicaid. It’s immoral for medical care to be available only to those who can pay. Mature societies don’t treat human beings as commodities.

            So reform is really just about attempting to offer this same protection to the middle class.

            1. Then Tony, if that’s how you feel about it, you give them your ill-gotten gains. What that isn’t enough? Tough shit. Fucking shoot me if you want my money. I can barely keep my head above water with all the taxes I am forced to shell over. I refuse to let my kids see me grovel at the unemployment office just because you thought it wise to confiscate the money I could spend on them.

              Human beings aren’t commodities. They are customers. If the customer can’t afford your product, then you either accept much less profit or you find ways to make it affordable. Just wishing for it to be affordable while pointing guns at doctors, nurses, scientists, taxpayers, and “evil” executives is not going to magically make it affordable. It will just make everyone poorer. What happened to that old cliche’ “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few”? Well when the quality of life for the “many” has been reduced thanks to your “good intentions”, I hope the “few” can protect you.

              1. Chemotherapy may actually cost $3 per pound if the Government wasn’t so heavily involved already in all aspects of uts production, dissemination and administration.

            2. “It’s immoral for…”

              Define moral. I am serious — I want to understand your rationale.

  8. A few months ago, only the House was at risk. Now the Senate is looking vulnerable. Only the Democrats could self destruct this quickly. It took the GOP much longer to alienate the country.

  9. Oh well. At least he closed Guantanamo.

    1. Insert rimshot here…

    2. And thank goodness he pulled out of Iraq within a year, and got us out of the war business for good!

  10. Obama is at bat and he strikes out again:

    http://www.pjtv.com/video/Dept_7/_Obama_At_The_Bat/3156/

  11. Ron Paul is an anti-semite whose favorite economists were jewish and who named his son after a jewish philosopher/novelist. Also, his supporters are stupid!

  12. right tony, the best way to make health care more affordable is to make even more people even more price insensitive!

    but then we will have smart people tell us what different health services and goods should cost, and everything will work out.

    1. “Nothing to see here folks. Move along. There is no such thing as an MRI machine…”

  13. Free market health care will not be affordable unless a true competitive free market is allowed to exist. People must be free to buy their Lipitor OTC from Amazon, Bumrungrad hospital in Thailand must be free to open a branch in the US staffed with Thai trained personnel, and Wal Mart must be allowed to staff cash clinics with Wal Mart trained personnel.

    The licensing system has been abused to limit competition, and the free market cannot function without unlimited competition. The only other option to control costs is regulating costs. Take your choice, a true free market, or regulation.

    The majority cannot afford to pay cash for the current system, which is why they ask the gov for help. This is why over half the population now has direct gov paid for health care, and much of the rest depend upon the employer tax deduction to get health care. Regulation is coming to control costs, if a true free market is not. You can’t design a health care system that the majority can’t afford, which is what we have now.

  14. Oh well. At least he closed Guantanamo.
    good shoes:
    http://www.christianlouboutinvips.com

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