On the eve of Obamacare’s arrival, Mark Steyn assesses what the age of Obama has accomplished for Americans.
President Obama has added six-and-a-half trillion bucks to the national debt, and has nothing to show for it. As Churchill would say, had his bust not been bounced from the Oval Office, never in the field of human spending has so much been owed by so many for so little. …
My colleague Michelle Malkin revealed this week that her family has now joined the massed ranks of Obamacare victims: Anthem BlueCross BlueShield sent her a â€œDear Johnâ€ letter, explaining why theyâ€™d be seeing less of each other. â€œTo meet the requirements of the new laws, your current plan can no longer be continued beyond your 2014 renewal date.â€
Beyond the presidentâ€™s characteristically breezy lie that â€œif you like your health care plan, you will be able to keep your health care planâ€ is the sheer nuttiness of whatâ€™s happening. For years, Europeans and â€œprogressiveâ€ Americans have raged at the immorality of the U.S. medical system: All those millions with no health coverage! But Michelle Malkin had coverage and suddenly, under what Obama calls â€œuniversal health care,â€ she doesnâ€™t. The CBOâ€™s most recent calculations estimate that, in 2023, a decade after the implementation of Obamacare, there still will be more than 30 million people uninsured â€“ or about the population of Canada. That doesnâ€™t sound terribly â€œuniversal,â€ and I would bet itâ€™s something of a low-ball figure: As many employers are discovering, one of the simplest ways â€œto meet the requirements of the new lawsâ€ and still stay just about solvent is to shift your workers from family plans to individual plans, and tell their spouses and children to go look elsewhere. Does it achieve its other goal of â€œcontaining costs,â€ already higher than anywhere else? No. Avik Roy reports in Forbes that Obamacare will increase individual-market premiums by 62 percent for women, 99 percent for men. In America, â€œinsuringâ€ against disaster now costs more than youâ€™d pay in most countries for disaster.
No one has ever before attempted to devise a uniform health system for 300 million people â€“ for the very good reason that it probably canâ€™t be done. Britainâ€™s National Health Service serves a population less than a fifth the size of Americaâ€™s and is the third-largest employer on the planet, after the Indian National Railways and the Chinese Peopleâ€™s Liberation Army, the last of which is now largely funded by American taxpayers through interest payment on federal debt. A single-payer U.S. system would be bigger than Britainâ€™s NHS, Indiaâ€™s railways and Chinaâ€™s army combined, at least in its bureaucracy. So, as in banking and housing and college tuition and so many other areas of endeavor, Washington is engaging in a kind of under-the-counter nationalization, in which the husk of a nominally private industry is conscripted to enforce government rules â€“ and ruthlessly so, as Michelle Malkin and many others have discovered.
Obamaâ€™s pointless, traceless super-spending is now (as they used to say after 9/11) â€œthe new normal.â€ Nancy Pelosi assured the nation last weekend that everything that can be cut has been cut and there are no more cuts to be made. And the disturbing thing is that, as a matter of practical politics, she may well be right. Many people still take my correspondentâ€™s view: If you have old money well-managed, you can afford to be stupid â€“ or afford the governmentâ€™s stupidity on your behalf. If youâ€™re a social-activist celebrity getting $20 million per movie, you can afford the governmentâ€™s stupidity. If youâ€™re a tenured professor or a unionized bureaucrat whose benefits were chiseled in stone two generations ago, you can afford it. If youâ€™ve got a wind farm, and youâ€™re living large on government â€œgreen energyâ€ investments, you can afford it. If youâ€™ve got the contract for signing up Obamacare recipients, you can afford it.
But, out there, beyond the islands of privilege, most Americans donâ€™t have the same comfortably padded margin for error, and theyâ€™re hunkering down. Obamacare is something new in American life: the creation of a massive bureaucracy charged with downsizing you â€“ to a world of fewer doctors, higher premiums, lousier care, more debt, fewer jobs, smaller houses, smaller cars, smaller, fewer, less; a world where worse is the new normal. Would Americans, hitherto the most buoyant and expansive of people, really consent to live such shrunken lives? If so, mid-20th century America and its assumptions of generational progress will be as lost to us as the Great Ziggurat of Ur was to 19th century Mesopotamian date farmers.
George Orwell, after attending a meeting of impoverished but passive miners, remarked sadly that â€œthere is no turbulence left in England.â€ The Democrats, and much of the Republican establishment, have made a bet that there is no turbulence left in America, and the citizenry will stand mute before Obamacareâ€™s wrecking ball. Unless theyâ€™re willing to accept a worse life for their children and grandchildren, middle-class Americans need to prove them wrong.
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