“Health-Plan Choices Shrink,” said a headline in the Wall Street Journal, Aug. 29, 2016.
What’s this — another campaign promise brought to the table undercooked and half-sauced?
Americans, as they look around the political dining room, are receiving, um — I know: Let’s call it a liberal education. An education in the complete, for all we can tell, inability of liberal social doctrines and programs to achieve the transformative effects promised before an election. Never mind the fervent promises and pledges that ring out each election year.
The transformation of life by government action and edict — the preferred procedure of the political left — is a relentless pre-election trope. Boy, the progressives, as liberals call themselves these days, are going to do great things for us: at least until the money runs low and the backfillings and blame-shiftings commence. We can count on plenty of both, now that, as the Journal explains, “nearly a third of the nation’s counties look likely to have just a single insurer offering health plans on the Affordable Care Act’s exchanges next year… an industry pullback that adds to the challenges facing the law.”
We all remember the law, passed by Democrats without a single Republican vote. That is to say, without a single bow or concession to skeptics who demanded to know how adding so many new customers to the insurance marketplace — the figure just now is over 16 million — was going to prove affordable to the industry and its tidal wave of new buyers.
The question, as it happens, was a good one. Many more unhealthy customers than the industry had counted on joined the system. Major providers lost money — a major obstacle to the goal of doing business — and so companies such as Aetna have been withdrawing from the exchanges in which they sell policies: declining, in essence, to subsidize the Obama administration’s political pledges. According to the Journal, 31 percent of U.S. counties may be served next year by just one company. Whatever its name, the company will charge its customers — the ones Washington claimed to be helping — sharply higher rates. And the customers will pay up, yell at their congressmen, or both: one more spectacular liberal dream having shown itself to be browning fast around the edges.
The latest (hardly the first) bad news about Obamacare and its excesses comes strikingly just as Donald Trump struggles to explain what he meant when he pledged to expel 11 million illegal aliens in the United States and build a wall to make sure no new ones get in. Trump’s pledge is in some sense his answer to Obamacare — a grand, mostly mythical account of what politicians are capable of bringing off, provided you turn your back while they work and don’t ask too many questions.
Grand schemes originating on the political right are fewer and farther between than those that flower on the left. Somehow liberalism’s chief property has become its gift for inventing programs that reinvent America as a nation supervised by its national government according to the highest, kindest, most generous of motives (such as winning the next election).
The idea of Americans as government dependents is as odd in its way as the idea that the national government — composed as it is of humans no smarter than non-government workers — knows just what we’d like best; and, further, knows how to shape and pay for it.
The lessons of the campaign schoolroom to which we are currently confined against our will are many. Not the least of them is the shamelessness of the political class as its members seek to outbid each other for popular favor, meaning votes in November. The idea isn’t to help us help ourselves. No, no, that’s so pre-New Deal! The idea is, shh, sit back, fold your hands, you poor little things. We’ve got you covered in a way you wouldn’t believe. (But now that you know, don’t forget it came from us.)
A ghastly election season, for numerous reasons — not the least of which is the opinion of us seemingly adopted by the governing class, to wit, “You’re all a bunch of second-rate weaklings and lamebrains.”
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