During Obama's first year in office, Democrats successfully framed the healthcare debate as “reform versus the status quo.” As Sheldon Richman noted in his March 2010 article featured in The Freeman, A far better framing of the issue would have been: “real reform versus the status quo on steroids.” The Democrat plan is essentially a “doubling down on the system’s existing perversities” and “...an extension of the current force-based bureaucratic system.”
Almost 6 out of 10 US voters realize, the 2500+ page healthcare bill Obama signed into law is a terrible plan. Besides the fact that the law requires people to buy a private service and impose fines on those who do not (a gross encroachment on human rights by the Federal Government), the plan is also likely to increase the nation's already massive debt over the course of the next decade. According to CBO estimates “...if the Medicare cuts were used to help shore up the effectively bankrupt Medicare trust fund...then the Democrats health care bill would run $260 billion in deficits over the next decade.”
- Let's take a quick second to remember how accurate government healthcare cost estimates have been in the past: Medicare costs were approximately $3 billion at the start of the program in 1966. The House Ways and Means Committee conservatively estimated that Medicare costs would increase to $12 billion by 1990. The actual cost of Medicare in 1990 was $107 billion – 792% more than the government estimate. Today, Medicare alone costs the nation over $408 billion/year!
And, while it is true Republicans did present alternative proposals to Obamacare, the focus of the GOP for the last year was first and foremost to fight against the Democrats' baleful plan.
In 1994, Republicans successfully fended off Clinton's healthcare proposal. After taking back control of Congress, for a decade and a half Republicans did nothing to fix the tangled regulatory mess caused by government bedevilment in healthcare. Instead of unwinding the crippling interventionist programs and regulations, Republicans complacently let the costly errors of an inherently flawed government-orchestrated system compound. Republicans had their chance and stood idle.
In the game of politics it might make sense for the minority party to steer clear of from rallying around an alternative that has no chance of passing, but it is not enough for the Republicans to simply oppose bad policy when they've had years to address the root of the problem.
Ok. So we've witnessed a furious debate around healthcare reform in America. In typical fashion, the media and politicians (both Republicans and Democrats) directed our attention to arguing over detached, surface-level issue instead of the real problems. Here's the deal: Republicans and Democrats have both shown they support socialized, government solutions to healthcare – only varying by degree. Democrats are just a more consistent and explicit in their message, but there is really not a material difference when it comes to basic principles.
Democrats were able to win the political game this time around. But “...at best this was a triumph of wishful thinking over sound thought.”
The system of delivering and paying for medical care in the United States is broken. The Republicans did nothing to fix it. Obamacare is a complete and utter failure - economically and morally.
To borrow a quote from economist Thomas Sowell, “The strongest argument for socialism is that it sounds good. The strongest argument against socialism is that it doesn't work.”
What is the solution? Stay tuned for a real alternative in Part 2.
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