Today, the White House announced that 7.1 million people have signed for the ACA on the exchanges, thus meeting the administration’s initial goals. Of course, when it comes to the Republican response, the healthcare law can’t win. If the signups had not met goals, they would have said it proved that the law was hopeless. Now they claim that the numbers are fake and even if they aren’t it still means the law is hopeless. There is something hopeless in Washington and it isn’t Obamacare; it’s the Republican Party.
But it is true that seven million people signing up on the exchanges does not mean the law is a success. There are things that could derail it. The most obvious is how the insurance rates are going to look next year. This is the kind of thing that smart conservatives like Josh Barro are talking about. But it is unlikely that it will actually be a problem. MS at The Economist wrote, Will the Haters Ever Stop Hating? It talks about how MS is from the Netherlands where they have had essentially the same system since 2006 and it works just fine.
The bigger issue, of course, is the endless series of court cases against the ACA, trying to bring the law down by any means available. It’s especially sad that the vast majority of these are lawsuits by supposed Christians. I guess the idea is that birth control, which is not discussed in the Bible, is more important than helping the poor, which is in the Bible. Huffington Post has a nice slide show that would be helpful for Christians to check out, 9 Jesus Quotes About The Poor. Never did Jesus say, “Blessed are those who prosper be denying the least of brothers healthcare.” But that’s Conservative Christians for you: 99% conservative and 1% Christian.
Jonathan Chait wrote a brilliant article about this conservative opposition this afternoon, The Obamacare Train Did Not Wreck. It emphasizes something that informs all of my political writing: liberals are essentially practical and conservatives are essentially ideological. In the press, the two sides are presented as equal and opposite, but that’s just not true. Conservatives claim to be for small government as an end in itself. But liberals are not for big government as an end, although they don’t mind it if it is a practical necessity.
Now I said above that conservatives “claim” to be for small government. This is very important because the fact of the matter is that conservatives are not, in practice, for small government. It is most accurate to say that they are situationally in favor of small government. When it comes to giving money to the rich, they rarely say anything about big government. It is only when big government is helping the little guy that they have a problem.
The perfect example of this is what has gone on with the farm bill this year. The Republican Party in the House wanted to savage aid to poor people. But they wanted to increase funding to farmers, almost all of which are rich. And notice how unfair this is. One of the justifications for food stamps is that farm price supports make the cost of food more expensive. So if the poor have to pay more money for their food because of the government, the poor ought to be compensated. But no: big government largess for the the rich and small government austerity for the poor. That is the Republican way.
And that’s all we are seeing with Obamacare. They don’t like the fact that it takes money from the rich and gives it to the poor. All the arguments about individual mandates and religious liberty are just a means to an end. And that end is a world in which the government makes money flow only one direction: from the poor to the rich. And that is the system we mostly have today. The ACA is the only big exception in recent years. No wonder the Republicans hate it.