Barack Obama Contra Mundum

When Massachusetts voters elected a Republican to fill the Senate seat vacated by the deceased Ted Kennedy, it appeared that the health care bill was dead on arrival.  Not only did Scott Brown represent the filibuster-proof vote for Republicans, he was elected from Massachusetts of all places on an anti-Obamacare campaign, which sent a very strong message to Democrats across the country in far more vulnerable states and districts: the American people do not want this kind of government intrusion into health care.

So, naturally, the Democrats pushed on with it anyway, in the only way that they could.  Prior to the election of Scott Brown, the Senate had already passed a bill for reform, but it was well-known that the House would pass its own version, and then the two bodies would have to come up with a compromise bill that could pass both chambers.  Scott Brown’s election became a game changer by ending all hope of finishing the process in that manner.  So House Democrats bit the bullet and decided that the Senate version of the bill, which had already been passed prior to Scott Brown’s election, would have to suffice (with promises of multiple changes to come later).  Obama signed into law his signature piece of legislation in the early months of 2010.  Democrats knew it was unpopular, but they convinced themselves that time would take its toll and the country would thank them for it before the November elections.

Since then, here is the running tally:

– Twenty-six states (and counting) have filed lawsuits claiming that Obamacare is unconstitutional.

– Two judges have ruled that, indeed, it is.

– The November elections were a bloodbath for Democrats, mostly because of this issue.

– The bill is less popular now than it ever has been before.

– Fulfilling the promise that got them elected, Republicans in the House have already voted to repeal the bill.

– Regardless of how things play out at the federal level, individual states may soon begin refusing to implement the law within their own borders.

This is the signature piece of legislation from President Obama, his lifetime achievement, if you will.  And no one is happy with it.  Liberals have always thought it didn’t go far enough.  The conservative movement that has swept the country exists in large part as a foil to this bill.  And the center largely disapproves of it as well.  The House of Representatives wants it gone, and two federal judges have said it represents an overreach of federal power.  We are witnessing Barack Obama stand against the world on this one.

Of course, there have been many people throughout history who have stood against the world and who were, in the judgment of history, vindicated.  But somehow I do not see the health care bill of 2010, cobbled together by a series of political payoffs, as something quite so noble as the causes that made former men great when they stood against the world.  Athanasius stood contra mundum for the deity of Christ.  Martin Luther stood contra mundum for the doctrine of justification by faith.  William Wilberforce stood contra mundum to end slavery.

…And Barack Obama stands contra mundum to defend, not an eternal and inviolable doctrine, nor even a noble ideal, but a 2,000 page legislative monstrosity fashioned by a series of sophisticated bribes and imposed on an unwilling public, calculated to hide its true costs and certain to weaken our economy, drive up insurance premiums, and reduce the quality of health care across the board.  This bill will either survive the courts, the Congress, and the states and wreak havoc on our country, or it will die at some point in the next few years.  Either way, it is not the kind of thing I would want to be my lifetime achievement.

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2 Responses to Barack Obama Contra Mundum

  1. Ali says:

    Aaron, I can’t comment on the health care bill in any detail, but it seems that there is still a huge general conservative US reluctance to accept a health care bill in any form. Or do I have it wrong?

  2. Hi Ali,

    I think you are right that there is a conservative US reluctance to accept more government intervention into health care. But I think there would be widespread support for a health care bill that reduced government intervention to some degree. For example, Republicans have proposed removing a government regulation that prevents Americans from buying health insurance across state lines. Why that is even a regulation in the first place, I have no clue. It makes perfect sense that, if you want to reduce costs, then you should allow free market forces to drive them down. Most Americans would be happy with freedom that would come to them through the end of such a regulation.

    I also think that tort reform would be widely supported. One of the main reason health care costs are so high is because doctors have to practice “defensive medicine” in order to protect themselves from lawsuits. In addition, doctors are paying outrageous premiums for malpractice insurance, which is another cost factor that gets passed on to patients. Medical malpractice lawsuits have gotten so out of hand that we are all having to suffer for it. I’m not exactly sure what kind of tort reform would get control of this situation in a fair way, but I know that some measures have been proposed. I think that kind of thing would be widely supported by the public.

    So it’s not that Americans are overwhelmingly happy with the way things are. It is more that Americans recognize that most of our problems in health care have resulted from government intervention, and therefore we are reluctant to give the government more power to make it even worse. In addition, President Obama made it clear when he was a candidate for president that his ultimate goal is a single payer health care system. The current law is a stepping stone to that ultimate goal. As government takes over more and more of the private sector, it will create the conditions within which private insurance can no longer survive as an industry.

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