There’s been a bit of discussion of a blog post from Peggy Noonan last week, The High Cost of ObamaCare. Ezra Klein has a full take down of it. Basically, Noonan doesn’t understand how part of Obamacare, Community First Choice, works. So she complains that Obamacare is not doing what Obamacare does do. She says that it should do exactly what it is doing. The horror!
I was very struck by the overall point of the article. According to her, Obamacare is a complicated mess. We should just start over. But how? She explains, “When a thousand things have to be changed about a law to make it workable, some politician is going to stand up and say: ‘This was a noble effort in the right direction but let’s do the right thing and simplify everything, with a transparent and understandable plan: single payer.’ Will that be Mrs. Clinton’s theme in 2016?” Is Peggy Noonan calling for single payer healthcare?
Okay. Okay. Stop laughing. Wipe the tears from your eyes. There’s still a lot of article left to read.
This is clearly a gambit. What Noonan is hoping to do is get liberal support for a repeal of Obamacare. That isn’t a completely insane idea. After all, there are a lot of liberals (Like me!) who really dislike Obamacare. But clearly, what Noonan is hoping is that with the help of liberals, the Republicans can repeal Obamacare. But after it’s gone, Hillary Clinton (for example) wouldn’t have overwhelming majorities in Congress and so we would get the preferred Republican plan: nothing. (Not even the fee for the gaming license.)
I run into a less calculated version of this gambit from conservatives all the time. Especially since Obamacare has become law, the big complaint about it is that it is so complicated. As Noonan says, it has “10 million moving parts.” These conservatives always say more or less the same thing, “Why can’t we have something simple.” And they are open minded about single payer. I don’t doubt that they are genuine in what they claim. (That’s clearly not true of Noonan!) They’ve all been told so much how terrible Obamacare is that they figure single payer could be no worse.
These same open minded conservatives would quickly close their minds to single payer, however. Charles Krauthammer would inform them all of the truth: single payer really is much more socialized medicine than Obamacare was. And suddenly, “complexity” would not be the rationale for opposing healthcare reform. It would instantly switch to something about a homosexual zombie orgy led by Stalin and Hitler.
Always be leery of conservatives who claim to be for reasonable reforms like these. In this specific case, it isn’t that conservatives don’t like Obamacare on the merits. They are just looking for a reason—Any reason!—to block it. The only healthcare “reform” policies that they are for are things that they’ve wanted to do for other reasons for a long time, like tort “reform.” If you think Noonan is disingenuous and hysterical now, just wait until Hillary Clinton proposes single payer. I can just hear her now, “Just because single payer is simple, doesn’t mean this socialist takeover of the healthcare industry is a good idea! At least Obamacare relied on the private sector!”