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Yes, It Would Appear We Are Starting to Find Proof That the Sky is Falling

March 28, 2010

Give Rush Limbaugh credit once again: He predicted with near pinpoint accuracy that the president would take to the airwaves shortly after signing “health” “care” “reform” into law to laugh at chicken little Republicans’ “fearmongering”, specifically by declaring that no great disaster had befallen the country after he signed the bill:

There’s been plenty of fear-mongering, plenty of overheated rhetoric. You turn on the news, you’ll see the same folks are still shouting about there’s going to be an end of the world because this bill passed. (Laughter.) I’m not exaggerating. Leaders of the Republican Party, they called the passage of this bill “Armageddon.” (Laughter.) Armageddon. “End of freedom as we know it.”So after I signed the bill, I looked around to see if there any — (laughter) — asteroids falling or — (applause) — some cracks opening up in the Earth. (Laughter.) It turned out it was a nice day. (Laughter.) Birds were chirping. Folks were strolling down the Mall. People still have their doctors.

Endzone dances like this one are the norm with Democrats and progressive pundits after the health care reform “victory”.  Every one of them is as disingenuous as the president’s declaration.

The president’s observation on birds chirping and people retaining their doctors was a mild variation on his deep and abiding love with reductio ad absurdum argumentation, otherwise known as the “strawman”.  For the record, I defy a liberal–or anyone for that matter–to show me where, exactly, conservatives claimed asteroids would fall from the sky or that people would lose their doctors the day or two after the passage of President Obama’s health-care bill. 

But lo!–what we do have now is a remarkable revelation from private industry that ObamaCare’s provisions will cost them billions of dollars to comply with.  This, because of a bill that Democrats promised would bend the cost curve downward:

Yesterday AT&T announced that it will be forced to make a $1 billion writedown due solely to the health bill, in what has become a wave of such corporate losses.This wholesale destruction of wealth and capital came with more than ample warning. Turning over every couch cushion to make their new entitlement look affordable under Beltway accounting rules, Democrats decided to raise taxes on companies that do the public service of offering prescription drug benefits to their retirees instead of dumping them into Medicare. We and others warned this would lead to AT&T-like results, but like so many other ObamaCare objections Democrats waved them off as self-serving or “political.”

One would be tempted to think that progressives would take another look at their legislation to determine its potential shortcoming, but one would be dead wrong.  Instead, the messenger must be attacked:

Commerce Secretary Gary Locke took to the White House blog to write that while ObamaCare is great for business, “In the last few days, though, we have seen a couple of companies imply that reform will raise costs for them.” In a Thursday interview on CNBC, Mr. Locke said “for them to come out, I think is premature and irresponsible.”Meanwhile, Henry Waxman and House Democrats announced yesterday that they will haul these companies in for an April 21 hearing because their judgment “appears to conflict with independent analyses, which show that the new law will expand coverage and bring down costs.”

The willingness of private industry to conform to sound practices of planning and accounting appears to threaten the administration’s belated efforts to sell their rosy sunshine and rainbows outlook for their boondoggle efforts.  See, this is why normally you win a debate and then pass legislation–not the other way around. 

If the dark forecasts of private industry weren’t enough to cause concern within the administration, you’d think that the panicked efforts of state governments to deal with ObamaCare would be sufficient to bring about some introspection.  Again, you’d be wrong.

The president’s remarks were meant to condition people to think of the legislation as innocuous because progressives need to convince people that a bill that won’t take full effect until 2014 isn’t harming them throughout two upcoming election cycles.  The American people are supposed to look around them for the next several months and couple of years and conclude that ObamaCare isn’t so bad.  When the legislation gains full force in 2014 and the administration full knows that the health care system will really begin to sag under the weight of a poorly designed bill, people need to be hooked on the supposed benefits of the program.  But what we’re already beginning to see are negative consequences of the legislation.  Caterpillar, John Deere, and AT&T have apparently decided to absorb the increases in costs for prescription drug benefits and the like; what happens when private industry begins to find it more convenient and more cost effective to dump their employees into these ghastly exchanges? 

As is necessary with any entitlement program, progressives rely on a confusing web of events, complex relationships, and most importantly a delay between passage and full implementation, to make it more difficult to definitively tie their programs to the disastrous consequences that inexorably follow.  People are meant to get hooked on the bill’s more popular provisions, like coverage for preexisting conditions and a new federal mandate that insurers allow “children” to stay on their parent’s insurance plans until age 26, long before the reform’s onerous taxation and ponzi-scheme payment mechanisms are truly felt.  Where Democrats really jumped the shark on ObamaCare is that the bill is (thankfully) so poorly conceived that the negative effects are being felt almost immediately.

The fact of the matter is that ObamaCare can be successfully repealed, partly because of the forgoing failure to consider unintended consequences to private industry:

Its major provisions do not take effect for four years, yet in the interim it is likely to begin wreaking havoc with the health care sector—raising insurance premiums, health care costs, and public anxieties. If those major provisions do take effect, moreover, the true costs of the program will soon become clear, and its unsustainable structure will grow painfully obvious. So, to protect it from an angry public and from Republicans armed with alternatives, the new law must be made to seem thoroughly established and utterly irrevocable—a fact on the ground that must be lived with; tweaked, if necessary, at the edges, but at its core politically untouchable. But it is no such thing. Obamacare starts life strikingly unpopular and looks likely to grow more so as we get to know it in the coming months and years. The entire House of Representatives, two-thirds of the Senate, and the president will be up for election before the law’s most significant provisions become fully active. The American public is concerned about spending, deficits, debt, taxes, and overactive government to an extent seldom seen in American history. The excesses of the plan seem likely to make the case for alternative gradual and incremental reforms only stronger. 

And the repeal of Obamacare is essential to any meaningful effort to bring down health care costs, provide greater stability and security of coverage to more Americans, and address our entitlement crisis. Both the program’s original design and its contorted final form make repairs at the edges unworkable. The only solution is to repeal it and pursue genuine health care reform in its stead.

Maybe a string of announcements like AT&T’s will ensure that the president dispenses with his glibness and starts considering the reckoning that surely awaits his party in November–so long as we continue to make our case.

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