The Nation's Pulse

Liberalism without a Cause

Welcome to the Obamacare Hall of Shame.

By 11.25.13

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It was named the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and that, right from the start, was, and is, is a double-barreled falsehood. To set the record straight, we can call this worm-infested rose by its proper name — the Patient Be Damned and let Premiums Rip Act.

Since the official roll-out of the new law on Oct. 1, millions of people have lost their existing health care plans — and many or even most of those people are stumbling around in a state of shock, having discovered the sky-high replacement costs on the new insurance exchanges.

The worst is yet to come. As the so-called employer mandates goes into effect in 2014, it will force employers (providing coverage to no fewer than 156 million Americans) to choose between two poisons: They can modify their health care plans to comply with the onerous and often absurd requirements of the law; or they can pay heavy fines for opting out and leaving their employees to find their own way on the insurance exchanges.

For many employers, fines will be the lesser of the two evils. That means: They will dump their group plans into the same PPACA shredding machine that has already devoured millions of individual plans — resulting, once again, in lost coverage, higher premiums and co-pays, bigger deductibles, and the loss of any real choice in the selection of doctors and hospitals. This time, however, the devastation will be much wider — affecting not just millions of people, but tens of millions, perhaps even 100 million.

How did things come to such a sorry pass?

You could blame it all on Barack Obama.

You could, but it wouldn’t be fair, or fun. That is a blinkered view.

Obama wasn’t acting alone. He had a cast of thousands.

Welcome, then, to a quick tour of the Obamacare Hall of Shame, which relives some of the best, or worst, moments in the Obamacare saga and allows you to be more even-handed in the way you apportion blame to a number of individuals and groups. You will find all of their names in bold-face.

Here you may stroll among the waxen figures of the men and women who made Obamacare what it is — just as if you were at Madam Tussauds.

You can walk right up to a life-sized Sandra Fluke, seen here speaking from the podium of the 2012 Democratic Party Convention. You can credit her with helping to get the whole war-on-women theme baked into Obama’s re-election campaign — and into Obamacare rules that require Catholic universities, hospitals, and other institutions to make ample provision for contraceptives and abortions in their health insurance plans…regardless of whether the leaders of those institutions object to doing so on religious and moral grounds, and regardless of whether anyone other than Sandra Fluke and a few of her friends are seeking such coverage.

At a hearing of House Democrats in February 2012 Fluke made the startling and wholly preposterous claim that she and other female students at Georgetown Law School endured great “financial, emotional and medical burdens” because of a lack of access to contraceptive devices. She put her own out-of-pocket expenses for protect sex at $3,000.

Who could listen to such nonsense without laughing out loud? Slightly more than half the country, it would seem on Nov. 6, 2012, along with well over two thirds of single women.

After her speech to the House Democrats, Rush Limbaugh labeled Sandra Fluke a “slut” and a “prostitute.” Not a good idea in this election season. It turned the whining 30-year-old lefty activist (a 2003 Cornell University graduate with a major in Feminist, Gender & Sexuality Studies) into an overnight sensation…and had Obama supporters across the land whooping for joy at the sudden appearance of a hard piece of evidence (from their always biased perspective) supporting the otherwise threadbare war-on-women narrative. Though he apologized for his remarks, Rush made a costly tactical error which accounts for his dunce-cap presence in this museum.

You will find waxen images of Nancy Pelosi’s waxen face throughout Obamacare Hall of Shame. There are more than two dozen of them, or her. Of these, the most popular is the one you see here of a triumphant Pelosi marching through a large crowd of anti-Obamacare protestors on Capitol Hill in March 2010 with a sledgehammer-sized gavel in her hands. This was on the eve of the vote leading to passage of the act.

The then Speaker of the House strode through the crowd hand-in-hand with civil rights veteran Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) and other black members of Congress in what was supposed to be a reenactment of the civil rights marches in 1960s and 70s. It was also a set-up occasion for smearing opponents. Pelosi and her colleagues used it for spreading the false charge (never corroborated on film, cell phone, or any recording device) that members of the Tea Party had repeatedly spat upon them and hurled the “N-word.” Needless to say, the mainstream media was all too happy to go along with the game. We have devoted an entire room to the mainstream media on another floor of this building.

What the carefully orchestrated event outside the Capitol demonstrated was the bottomless pit of contempt for the — and, ultimately, of contempt for the American people — that lies at the sordid heart of Obamacare.

This is liberalism without a cause. It is a debased and cynical form of populism — caring nothing about the people it purportedly serves. Like the Soviet nomenklatura with their dachas on the Black Sea, the Democratic Party elitists (led by Barack and Michelle) vacation with their billionaire friends such as Warren Buffett on Martha’s Vineyard while never ceasing to agonize over the unequal distribution of wealth (and also while never ceasing to protect and accumulate their own wealth). For the liberal elite of Harvard- / Wall Street-types populating Obama’s cabinets, it’s all about squashing individual choice and competition while expanding their own easily won powers and privileges.

The real story behind the passage of Obamacare begins when the Democrats took control of both houses of Congress in 2006. At this time, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid put out the word that companies that did not hire Democratic lobbyists would not get a hearing in Washington. Even more than that, however, businesses were told that they better come to them with the right attitude — one of abject submissiveness. As Kimberly A. Strassel put it in one of her Potomac Watch columns in the Wall Street Journal, “Health-care lobbying has been turned on its head: The new cabal of lobbyists does not exist to protect the industry from Congress. It exists to present Democratic ultimatums to business.”

Following Barack Obama’s election to his first term, the American Medical Association, hospital groups, AARP, Big Pharma, and America’s Health Insurance Plans were all telling each other: If you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu. They all cut deals to support Obamacare.

The health insurer’s group agreed to give up A and B in order to get C and D: It agreed A) to bite its tongue in the face of an avalanche of new mandates and other problems, and B) to commit publicly to squeezing some $2 trillion in costs out of the system, in order to get C), a law that was supposed to force 30 million uninsured to buy insurance, and D), the all-important promise that the administration would not put them all out of business by exercising the so-called public option.

The AMA lent public support to Obamacare in return for promises of a “doc fix” — protecting doctors from the automatic imposition of future reductions in their compensation. Never mind that only 17 percent of the nation’s doctors belong to the AMA. Its support for Obamacare was crucial for symbolic purposes.

And that brings us to our last exhibit. We are now in the Rose Garden in October 2009 and we are witnessing history in the making. There you see 150 doctors from 50 states playing dressy-up for the 44th president of the United States. Sitting on folding chairs, they are wearing White House-issued white lab coats and they are Exhibit A in building the president’s claim of credibility. “Nobody has more credibility with the American people on this issue than you do,” Obama tells the mannequins — who supposedly represent the real-life doctors entrusted with the care of those we love the most.

Ah, yes, credibility — a precious possession. People quickly lose their credibility when it becomes clear that they don’t know what the hell they’re doing . . . and don’t much care either.

Whatever credibility Barack Obama had at the outset of the long Obamacare slog, it is gone today.

It’s not just the cheap tricks, the lies, and the broken promises that have turned his signature program into a cruel joke. More than that, it’s the perception that Obama and his principal partners in crime — Pelosi, Reid, and Sibelius — knew all along they were cooking up an unholy mess, and they didn’t care if they were.

Obamacare was just something that they wanted to cram down the throat of the American people — whether they liked it or not.

It was a power thing — thinking they could do whatever they liked in the pursuit of “transformation” change.

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About the Author
Andrew B. Wilson, a frequent contributor to The American Spectator and a former foreign correspondent, writes from St. Louis.