Friday, November 15, 2013

Why liberals are panicked about Obamacare

Why liberals are panicked about Obamacare
By Charles Krauthammer, Published: November 14
“Even if it takes a change to the law, the president should honor the commitment the federal government made to those people and let them keep what they got.”

So the former president asserts that the current president continues to dishonor his “you like your plan, you can keep your plan” pledge. And calls for the Affordable Care Act to be changed, despite furious White House resistance to the very idea.

Coming from the dean of the Democratic Party, this one line marked the breaching of the dam. It legitimized the brewing rebellion of panicked Democrats against Obamacare. Within hours, that rebellion went loudly public. By Thursday, President Obama had been forced into a rear-guard holding action, asking insurers to grant a one-year extension of current plans.

The damage to the Obama presidency, however, is already done. His approval rating has fallen to 39percent, his lowest ever. And, for the first time, a majority considers him untrustworthy. That bond is not easily repaired.

At stake, however, is more than the fate of one presidency or of the current Democratic majority in the Senate. At stake is the new, more ambitious, social-democratic brand of American liberalism introduced by Obama, of which Obamacare is both symbol and concrete embodiment.

Precisely when the GOP was returning to a more constitutionalist conservatism committed to reforming, restructuring and reining in the welfare state (see, for example, the Paul Ryan Medicare reform passed by House Republicans with near-unanimity), Obama offered a transformational liberalism designed to expand the role of government, enlarge the welfare state and create yet more new entitlements (see, for example, his call for universal preschool in his most recent State of the Union address).

The centerpiece of this vision is, of course, Obamacare, the most sweeping social reform in the past half-century, affecting one-sixth of the economy and directly touching the most vital area of life of every citizen.

As the only socially transformational legislation in modern American history to be enacted on a straight party-line vote, Obamacare is wholly owned by the Democrats. Its unraveling would catastrophically undermine their underlying ideology of ever-expansive central government providing cradle-to-grave care for an ever-grateful citizenry.

For four years, this debate has been theoretical. Now it’s real. And for Democrats, it’s a disaster.

It begins with the bungled rollout. If Washington can’t even do the Web site — the literal portal to this brave new world — how does it propose to regulate the vast ecosystem of American medicine?

Beyond the competence issue is the arrogance. Five million freely chosen, freely purchased, freely renewed health-care plans are summarily canceled. Why? Because they don’t meet some arbitrary standard set by the experts in Washington.

For all his news conference gyrations about not deliberately deceiving people with his “if you like it” promise, the law Obama so triumphantly gave us allows you to keep your plan only if he likes it. This is life imitating comedy — that old line about a liberal being someone who doesn’t care what you do as long as it’s mandatory.

Obamacare is Barack Obama’s signature policy initiative.

Note: CGI Group Inc. was the Obamacare contractor that developed web site.
Donna S. Morea was the EVP for the CGI Group Inc., and a trustee at the Committee for Economic Development.
Foundation to Promote Open Society was a funder for the Committee for Economic Development.
George Soros is the chairman for the Foundation to Promote Open Society.

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