Streetcar Line

The Right Mantra Against Obamacare

What it's really quacked up to be.

By 7.30.09

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It's not a crisis, but just a problem.

Barack Obama's solution is neither safe nor sensible, but reckless and risky.

Not a crisis.

Reckless and risky.

Those are the themes, the very words, that opponents of Obamacare must use throughout the August congressional recess, and as long as it takes after that, to finally kill the whole, monstrous effort.

The current U.S. health care system, or actually just a portion of it, is just a problem, just like so many problems of a far worse nature that Americans have solved before -- without panic, without drastic over-reactions, without radical, risky, reckless responses. Or, to use a medical analogy, there's no need for open heart surgery when a catheter and a stent, along with some statin drugs, can do the job just fine. Better yet, there's no need to amputate the leg and attach an experimental type of prosthesis in response to a badly sprained ankle.

Leaving metaphors aside, the last thing the American people need is to ruin the quality of health care and four-fifths of Americans say that, in their own lives, they are satisfied with. No, that's the second-last thing. The very last thing Americans need is to let bureaucrats decide who will and won't give care, especially in situations of life and death. But Obamacare so clearly threatens that scary, Soylent Green-like result that even a major Democratic state senator in New York is seriously concerned about it.

As Philip Klein has so convincingly shown on these pages, just about every claim Obama is peddling about health care is a myth. There aren't 47 million uninsured. The problems in the system aren't caused by the free market but by distortions of the free market. And so on. There really is no crisis.

And as Deroy Murdock, among others, has shown, conservatives do offer plenty of solutions to the problems in the system -- problems that are manageable and finite, not metastasizing and deadly. Arizona's U.S. Rep. John Shadegg has been a leader on this front, and South Carolina's U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint has been no slouch either.

And Senate Republicans already are trying some creative ways to get their message out, especially by featuring doctors-turned-senators Tom Coburn of Oklahoma and John Barrasso of Wyoming in a series of videos.

But while Americans are increasingly skeptical about Obama's approach, they still seem to believe that the system as a whole is in terrible shape even if they themselves are satisfied with their own care. The goal, then, especially in town meetings, should be to ask audience members if they are happy with their own level of care -- not the cost, not the red tape, but the actual care they receive. Then, when they say yes (as almost all of them will), explain that the task is to "build" on that satisfaction by fixing only the precise problems they see with the overall system rather than "risking" their own care for a "reckless" scheme that already is failing in Great Britain, Canada, and everywhere else it has been tried.

The "focused," "moderate" reforms that conservatives are pushing have never been given a chance to work, and they put no individual's care at risk if they don't work. But common sense says they will indeed work. It is common sense to let people buy insurance across state lines. It is common sense to let people set up health savings accounts. It is common sense to give tax breaks to individuals for health insurance if they don't get their insurance through their jobs.

Obamacare, on the other hand, "reckless" as it is, asks Americans to give up their excellent care on the mere promise that we can trust Obama and his bureaucrats not to mess it up.

Trus-s-s-st in me, says Obama, like the Disney version of Kaa the python, but Americans should know better. Pythons and bureaucrats alike have coils that can be almost impossible to escape, and it is reckless to jump into those coils in the first place.

Americans like boldness, but not recklessness. And Americans sense when "too much, too soon" is being recklessly shoved down their throats. TARP bailout number one. TARP 2. Sweetheart deals for Goldman Sachs. Stimulus packages bigger than the whole regular defense budget. Takeovers of banks. Takeovers of car companies -- takeovers that hurt more than help, as is witnessed by the recent profits of still-independent Ford while bailed-out General Motors continues to lose money hand over fist.

What's worse is when recklessness risks not just health care, but freedom. When bureaucrats make all the decisions, and they refuse to pay for anti-cancer drugs but offer to pay for assisted suicide, that's not freedom. When even the current Medicare system forbids people to opt out of its benefits, that's not freedom. When the government sets up an "age rating system" and doesn't allow people to shop around for a deal that takes more relevant factors into account, that's not freedom.

The question Obamacare opponents must ask, as often as possible, is: Why recklessly risk all of these losses when we don't even face a crisis? Why give in to massive government when the majority of the public still doesn't like big government? Why completely "transform America," in Obama's words, when we love America almost exactly the way it is?

Haven't we been through enough exhausting public battles in the past 15 years? Impeachment. The Bush-Gore tie. The attacks of 9-11. Afghanistan. Iraq. A burst housing bubble and a collapse of credit. Recession. Isn't it time to take it a little more slowly, a little more carefully, a little more thoughtfully, and fix only the problems at hand rather than pretend the problems are crises and using them as excuses to change the whole world?

The Barack Obama who wants to upend the whole American order, who wants to change one-sixth of the economy at one fell swoop without even letting Congress read the final bill, is not the Obama that 53 percent of Americans voted for. Americans voted for his soothing personality, not his radical and reckless, messianic crusades.

Americans wanted somebody with a good bedside manner. But Obama is proving to be a reckless quack.

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About the Author
Quin Hillyer is a senior editor of The American Spectator and a senior fellow at the Center for Individual Freedom. Follow him on Twitter @QuinHillyer.