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KUHNER: A search for a silver lining
The costs of Obamacare could sink Democrats
Republicans are on the verge of again becoming the majority party. The conventional wisdom is that the GOP is taking the brunt of the public blame for the partial government shutdown. In the short term, that is true. In the long term, however, the Republicans are on the verge of a major triumph. They will lose the shutdown battle, but win the Obamacare war.
By confronting President Obama on defunding or delaying his signature health care law, the GOP-controlled House of Representatives finally made a stand. Mr. Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid are in no rush to end the government shutdown. The reason is obvious: They want to prolong the pain, thereby hoping to direct public anger against the House Republicans. The liberal elite media have peddled the narrative that the Tea Party is responsible for the shutdown. Democrats have resorted to calling Republicans every name in the book — terrorists, anarchists, suicide-bombers and right-wing extremists. The only thing they haven’t called Tea Party conservatives — yet — are Satanists.
The vitriol and hatred reveal not just the Democrats’ fanaticism. They expose something deeper: the left’s profound insecurity about Obamacare. It is their albatross, which threatens to drag down the entire Democratic establishment. Enrollment for Obamacare began Oct. 1. The verdict is already in: The law is a bureaucratic monstrosity. It is a disastrous failure. The government’s website designed to enable customers to enroll online into the marketplace exchanges keeps crashing. The system’s software is flawed — most likely, beyond repair. Few people are able to sign up. And those that manage to get on the site are shocked to discover that, for most people, premiums are exorbitantly expensive.
Obamacare is delivering the very opposite of what was promised: skyrocketing health costs and little choice. Mr. Obama vowed that if you like your doctor or health care plan, you could keep them. That is false. Walgreen, Sears, IBM, UPS, Trader Joe’s and Time Warner all have announced major changes in employee health benefits, spearheading a push toward exchanges. Moreover, the average health care cost for a family of four will explode nearly $7,500. Obamacare represents one of the greatest transfers of wealth in history. The middle- and working-class will see their health care expenses dramatically increase and their benefits slashed in order to subsidize free medical care for a segment of the poor. It is redistributionist socialism masquerading as “reform.”
The law’s central promise — universal coverage — also turns out to be a chimera. According to the Congressional Budget Office, more than 30 million Americans will still not receive health benefits under Obamacare. In other words, Mr. Obama has erected a vast social-engineering experiment that revolutionizes one-sixth of the U.S. economy, imposes countless taxes, fees and regulations, undermines economic growth and job creation, pushes numerous employees into part-time work, and creates a massive, intrusive bureaucracy that will involve itself in the most intimate aspects of nearly every individual’s life, their personal health. All of this damage will be inflicted without even achieving Obamacare’s singular purpose. The American people have been sold a pack of lies.
“This is worse than a crime, it’s a blunder,” to borrow a line from the French statesman Charles de Talleyrand.
For Democrats, Obamacare is the blunder of a generation. It is their law; they own it — lock, stock and barrel. There is a fierce battle against it because of deep popular opposition. Mr. Obama is paying the price for ramming the law down the throats of Congress and the American people. Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid — every prior major modern entitlement program has had substantial bipartisan support. This was done to ensure a level of political consensus and social stability when implementing sweeping change.
Obamacare, however, was different. It was passed without a single GOP vote. Every Republican idea — purchasing insurance across state lines, the need for tort reform, stripping out the death panels, abolishing taxpayer funding of abortions and contraception, and eliminating the punishing tax on medical devices — was rejected. It was Obamacare that spawned the birth of the Tea Party.
Mr. Obama’s health care overhaul represents liberalism’s fatal overreach. Most Americans despise it, and the more they find out about Obamacare, the more they hate it. It is a significant reason why the president’s job approval has sunk to 37 percent — and will continue to plummet. The most enduring memory the electorate will have is of Republicans shutting down the government in order to thwart the oncoming disaster. The GOP is being rebranded right in front of our eyes. They are standing as the defenders of small government, fiscal sanity and individual freedom. The Tea Party represents the rebirth of Reagan conservatism, and the last time the GOP embraced Reaganism, they won consecutive landslide elections.
The Republican moment is approaching.
Jeffrey T. Kuhner is a radio host on WRKO AM-680 in Boston.
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