In the closing days of 2013, Senator Ron Johnson (R., WI) made national news when he opined that Obamacare could not be repealed. Too much about health insurance coverage had changed since the program’s implementation commenced on October 1st. There was no longer a way to go back.
Set aside that, judging from the vagueness of his remarks, Senator Johnson seems not to have known exactly what the Obamacare wrecking ball had demolished so thoroughly, so quickly. Assume the senator was right.
Still, there is one simple step to reform: make Obamare entirely voluntary. If it is so great, it will stand on its own. If people want some other kind of coverage, they can get it.
So no personal mandate. No employer mandate. No requiring insurance companies to offer the government’s prescribed plan on the government’s prescribed terms. No more Obamacare taxes, either, that archipelago of hidden coercions. No tax on the revenues of medical device manufacturers. No penalties (that as Chief Justice John Roberts correctly said are really taxes) on those who don’t sign up.
In particular, dump Obamacare’s biggest tax. The program is (as the president promised in 2008 would be the central theme of his administration) a tremendous redistribution of wealth – but not, despite his promise, a distribution from the rich to the poor. Rather, it transfers funds from the young to the old.
We laugh at how inappropriate some of the mandated coverage is – requiring single young men to buy insurance for pregnancy, for example. Or, more broadly, requiring what Health and Human Services Secretary Katherine Sebelius so airily termed during the rollout a “series of benefits whether you use them or not.” (http://bit.ly/1aAzKyZ).
But let’s understand, mandating that single young men insure themselves for pregnancy services was no bureaucratic snafu. Like every other deception in the program, it disguised an aspect of the law that was unpalatable to large numbers of Americans, in this case a new tax — a tax to force the young to pay for the old, effectively a tax on being young, a youth tax.
The president may have whistled a happy tune for us, but the purpose of his deception was very clear to tell. As we have since learned, the White House’s calculations showed that their ideas would not work unless the young (who consume few health services) ponied up for the old (who consume a great deal) whether they wanted to or not. Apparently this conundrum did not cause White House and Congressional Democrats to question their plans – only to hunt for ways to conceal them.
Making the program voluntary would drive all those deceptions into the open.
So, among other things, no more draconian fines on the Little Sisters of the Poor or Hobby Lobby – or anyone who, for reasons of conscience or, for that matter, of whim – declines any aspect of coverage. That would end what appears now to have been a hidden agenda against the free exercise of religious faith as it has long been understood in our country.
If the president and all those Democratic members of Congress who gave us the Affordable Care Act want to implant in the United States government an insurance company that competes on truly equal terms with other insurance companies, that is one thing. But if in doing so they want to use the government’s coercive powers, that is quite another.
Since Obamacare’s commencement, we have received an enormous lesson in the wisdom of our nation’s founders and the dangers of ignoring that wisdom. In 2009, in passing the Affordable Care Act and other actions, particularly passage of Dodd- Frank, the administration and its Congressional allies swept away the restrictions of limited government and, in many instances, separation of powers and rule of law. They vilified anyone who objected and assured us that they themselves were the vanguard of a benign future.
Of course, if the goal had truly been to ensure that all Americans could receive a doctor’s care, the entire program was unnecessary. Federal law already required that every emergency room in the nation provide health services to anyone who showed up at the door.
Still the president said we were going to have fundamental change, even as everything would remain the same. But aren’t the youth tax, the massive fines on the Little Sisters of the Poor and all the deceptions and excesses exactly where the tearing down of Constitutional restraints leads?
Once we had government of, by and for the people. In a heartbeat, we have glimpsed government that sees the people as of, by and for it.
Is this truly a future from which we cannot turn back?