by Roger Kimball
While the Democrats continue their impeachment pantomime war dance in the mirror-clad corner in order to keep up their spirits, Senator Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) is ginning up a much more fateful danse macabre on health care. He has promised to force a vote this week on various Trump Administration directives that have injected flexibility into Obamacare. As The Hill reports, “Senate Democrats plan to force vulnerable Republicans to vote on legislation that would overturn a controversial Trump administration directive on ObamaCare.”
The idea is that Democrats can force besieged lawmakers such as Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Martha McSally (R-Arizona) to take a stand and make an unpopular vote on the issue that voters consistently identify as the most important: health care.
But just like that impeachment fracas taking place in the Romper Room, this ploy on healthcare threatens to recoil badly on Democrats.
Remember “if you like your health care plan you can keep your health care plan”? That was the rubric under which President Obama sold the American public the bill of goods we now know as Obamacare. Even Politifact called it the lie of the year. He promised premiums would go down. In fact, they have skyrocketed. Thanks to Obama, when it comes to health care, people have fewer choices, pay more, and have to wait longer to receive treatment, which is increasingly rationed by the bureaucrats in Washington.
A Cynical Exercise
No issue is more important to American voters than health care. No issue has brought out more forcefully the authoritarian, top-down instincts of Democrats. As Ronald Reagan noted way back in 1961, “One of the traditional methods of imposing statism or socialism on a people has been by way of medicine.” Indeed. “It’s very easy,” Reagan pointed out, “to disguise a medical program as a humanitarian project. Most people are a little reluctant to oppose anything that suggests medical care for people who possibly can’t afford it.”
Obamacare was a cynical exercise in the opposite: disguising a so-called humanitarian project as a medical program.
One of the chief architects of that misbegotten initiative, Jonathan Gruber, later admitted that he deliberately misled the American people about the true costs of Obamacare, adding that the deception wasn’t difficult because of “the stupidity of the American voter.”
Just how stupid are we? Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) has made abolishing private health care insurance a centerpiece of her campaign. Some other Democratic presidential candidates, with greater or lesser candor, have followed suit. This would tip health care even further into the clutches of the busy bureaucrats who want to run your life and tell what you may and may not do. Is there more powerful vote-losing platform?
Impeaching the president because he committed the sin of having been elected without the permission of Democrats is right up there, but pushing the U.S. healthcare system further into the one-size-fits-all template of wannabe socialists will give it stiff competition.
Nipping Reform in the Bud
Donald Trump tried to get rid of Obamacare soon after taking office. The late and wretched John McCain (R-Ariz.), petulant narcissist par excellence, cast the deciding vote against Trump’s initiative, scoring a grubby point against Trump while also kicking his party and the American people in the teeth.
In the months that followed, Trump endeavored to open up Obamacare and repeal some of its more onerous requirements. Among other things, he brought some creative thinking to the so-called “1332 waivers,” which allowed individual states to apply to opt-out of some of Obamacare’s provisions. This is what The Hill called “controversial.” The Obama Administration imposed stringent requirements on such waivers, with the result that only four states qualified. The Trump Administration has loosened those requirements, with the result that, to date, 13 states have been able to take advantage of the waivers and consequently reduce premiums while increasing patient choice.
Schumer aims to nip that initiative in the bud and stymie efforts to turn health care back to the states and local authorities. The more voters know about Schumer’s initiative and his heavy-handed efforts to push the agenda of the far-left wing of the Democratic party, the more vigorously they will reject it.
Which is why the people who should be worried are not lawmakers like Collins and McSally, but vulnerable Senate Democrats like Gary Peters in Michigan, Jeanne Shaheen in New Hampshire, Tina Smith in Minnesota, Mark Warner in Virginia, and Doug Jones in Alabama.
Schumer and his leftist colleagues want to eliminate private health insurance and turn over health care to government bureaucrats in Washington. The goal is not better or more affordable healthcare but more control over the lives of the people whom they regard as their wards.
Their agenda is an agenda of dependency. Attacking Trump’s efforts to open up and improve upon Obamacare is a step in that direction. Voters in 2020 will remember who voted for this tool to further enslave the American people. They will not look kindly upon it.
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Roger Kimball is editor and publisher of The New Criterion and the president and publisher of Encounter Books. He is the author and editor of many books, including The Fortunes of Permanence: Culture and Anarchy in an Age of Amnesia (St. Augustine’s Press), The Rape of the Masters (Encounter), Lives of the Mind: The Use and Abuse of Intelligence from Hegel to Wodehouse (Ivan R. Dee), and Art’s Prospect: The Challenge of Tradition in an Age of Celebrity (Ivan R. Dee).
Photo “Chuck Schumer” by Chuck Schumer.