“The best way to get a bad law repealed is to enforce it strictly.” Abraham Lincoln, when speaking these words, could have been advising today’s GOP, which in its four-year fight to repeal ObamaCare has found an unlikely ally–the law itself. Strict implementation of this law’s myriad rules, regulations, and requirements, the GOP has found, makes the GOP’s case against it much better than does a thousand speeches. If allowed to sail on its own accord–as written and as published—ObamaCare would already be well on its way to oblivion.
But thanks to a president who flouts the law and a Democrat party that enables him, the much-hated ObamaCare flotilla continues to steam ahead. The Democrats, the party that continually admonishes the GOP that ObamaCare is now the “law of the land” and “let’s move on,” are quick themselves to ignore or to amend its politically troubling aspects. The employer mandate, which dramatically raises employers’ costs when hiring full-time workers; the forced policy cancellations of those policies the law has deemed sub-par; the individual mandate, requiring everyone to purchase health insurance—these are only the law’s well-known problem areas, each recently adjusted unilaterally by the president, many believe primarily for political reasons. More such adjustments are in store.
Why does the ObamaCare political battle seem very different from many of the other political battles we have seen? After four years of national debate about it, and recently its roll out, why are the Democrats so relentless? Why, unless reality forces his hand, does the president refuse all suggested Republican modifications to it?
Recall the president absolutely refused to negotiate any aspect of ObamaCare during the debt ceiling and government default battles with Congress during late 2013—even allowing the government to shut down. Furthermore, when only a few weeks later political reality had forced him to favor the functional equivalent of some of the GOP proposals he had only recently rejected, such as delaying the individual mandate, he did so only by executive action, keeping Congress at bay. At the time the president publicly stated, predictably, that he would not sign any GOP amendments to ObamaCare, even ones whose purposes were identical to his executive actions. This is a president who wishes to keep control of this law at all costs.
And there is good reason. ObamaCare–its goals, its implementation, its justification—define the Democrat party. Consciously, subconsciously, and philosophically, the Democrat party is the party of control. And no greater control in recent memory has one political party pushed onto an unwilling America than this ObamaCare hydra.
Knowing that Democrats are the party of control, one can easily predict their views on any particular issue. One simply asks himself: Of the two sides to an issue, which side trusts neither the individual nor the free market in which he thrives? Which side places its trust in elites over individuals? Rent controls, wage controls, environmental controls, higher taxes, more regulation—endless lists of controls such as these motivate and define modern Democrats. At their basic instincts, Democrats rule with the idea that the elite (the government, the civil service, the committee of “experts”) are better equipped than are individuals to make the big decisions affecting people’s own lives.
ObamaCare, with its reach already so tenaciously entangled into a huge (18%) swath of the United States economy, is their child, their baby, of whom they are most proud; they will do what’s necessary to keep it free from outside corruption. They correctly perceive the stakes as high. No matter how disastrous its rollout and implementation, repeal of ObamaCare, to them, is out of the question.
Even the recent impartial CBO report, which lays out in detail the disastrous shortcomings of ObamaCare, is not enough to move Democrats to think of repeal. This report states, among other negatives, that ObamaCare is a disincentive to work: those receiving ObamaCare subsidies will often find the subsidy more valuable to them than any additional income from additional work. Thus many will choose not to work.
Everyone should consider this predicted outcome horrendous, yet it does not move Democrats. Instead, their reaction has been, incredibly, to say this outcome is a good thing, rejoicing that people will have a new freedom to decide when and if to work. If the Democrats are joking, the rest of us are not laughing. If they are serious, we should begin crying. This is not America anymore—this is welfare state Europe.
A close corollary to control is dependence. For Democrats dependence is not pejorative, but an election strategy. And they see dependency written on every unread page of the nearly 20,000-paged ObamaCare law. Health exchanges, employer mandates, individual mandates, government drug formularies–you name it. Their hope is that the more citizens become dependent on government, the more they will vote Democrat since Democrats will promise to keep the goodies flowing. That the thoughts of Jefferson and Madison have been reduced to free birth control pills illustrates how far astray we have traveled.
It’s worth reminding ourselves the great lengths to which the Democrats went in 2009 to pass ObamaCare, seizing the historic opportunity before them. Until then, it had been impossible for Democrats to pass health care reform since the GOP had controlled the White House. But after the election of Barack Obama, and with a fluke 60-vote filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, which they knew wouldn’t last long, the 60 Democrat-voting Senators passed the ACA (ObamaCare) without a single GOP vote.
Before the House voted on its own health reform measure, however, the Democrats lost a Democrat senator with the surprise election of Republican Scott Brown of Massachusetts, who had campaigned against ObamaCare, winning Ted Kennedy’s vacant seat. This caused a problem for House Democrats, who under Speaker Pelosi had an even more radical health plan in the works. Realizing that any wording changes to the Senate version would no longer pass the current Senate (since the Democrats had lost their filibuster-proof majority), the House strategically passed unchanged the Senate version. Later, in a pre-agreed-upon misuse of the inter-chamber reconciliation process, the Democrats amended the Senate version in a stunt requiring only 51 Senate votes.. The president signed this law, and the country has been stuck with it ever since.
Many thought the Democrats after Brown’s election would give up and negotiate with Republicans for a more modest bill. But to think this is not to understand the importance to Democrats of passing the kind of health care bill they had always favored. Undeterred they ended up with essentially what they had wanted: health care administered from Washington. They understood that to control health care is not only to control health care, but also to control large areas of the American economy—employers, employees, hospitals, doctors, insurance companies. Democrats were not going to allow this baby to slip from their grips—and they haven’t.
Thus as each new ObamaCare disaster unfolds, don’t expect Democrats to suddenly“wake up” one day, see the light, and say, “It’s time for repeal.” These disasters are of only political concern to them, just collateral damage during their quest to transform America into a new society, less as envisaged by our Founders, more as practiced by the socialist democracies of Europe.
And since most honest appraisals of ObamaCare point to ongoing disasters, what should we expect in the months and years to come? As each ObamaCare problem unfolds, citizens will increasingly turn against the Democrats. This has already begun, as one can see from recent polls. The majority of Americans, non-ideological in most respects, have given the president the benefit of the doubt twice—in 2008 and in 2012. Although anyone could have predicted the kinds of big-government, dependent-producing programs Obama would favor based on his rhetoric, the majority, unfortunately, do not think in these ideological terms. But this does not mean they are blind to the horrendous results coming at them .
Therefore, as time go on, political pressure will continue to increase to fully repeal ObamaCare. Since the Democrats will resist such pressure until the last final moment, the 2014 midterms may be very much like those in 2010, with huge Democrat-punishing gains for the GOP including winning control of the Senate. Although Obama would still surely veto any repeal of ObamaCare, he’d have only two years remaining to his presidency—a lame duck by all accounts–while the GOP majorities in both houses could begin defunding ObamaCare and laying the groundwork for 2016 and a new administration.
For those who do not wish America to become like Europe, counting on 2014 seems like the last hope. Much damage has already been done. Many believe we passed the tipping point after the reelection of Obama in 2012, and they have strong arguments to back up their position. Time will tell. But for those still holding onto hope, that the country can be turned back toward policies of less government and freer markets, working toward a GOP Senate majority in 2014 and recapturing the White House in 2016 is something tangible and doable. And it could, if nothing else, stem the tide toward big government while we regroup, organize, and find more permanent solutions. First step, however, must be regime change. Continuing along our present national direction is truly not an option.