In my last column I asked readers to vote to select a topic on which I would write two columns -- one from a left-wing perspective and another from the right. The winning topic was ‘Obamacare,’ and I will discuss the issue from a conservative (opposing) viewpoint this week.
“A government big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take away everything you have.”
-- Thomas Jefferson
Two hundred and thirty-eight years ago a group of very smart and uncommonly altruistic men established our nation as a place where people could enjoy a level of personal freedom that was largely unheard of in the world at that time. Their revolutionary idea was that the government should serve the people, and not the other way around.
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A big part of their plan was to limit the power of the federal government in a very specific and well-defined manner, and they did just that when they wrote our Constitution. It was a great idea and it worked quite well for a time. But over the years we have gradually traded more and more of our freedoms away to the government in hopes that they would make life better for all of us. Today, those of us who have jobs turn over a huge portion of our income to Uncle Sam to feed an insatiable government beast that Thomas Jefferson tried to warn us about all those years ago.
In 2008 we elected a prototypical big-government liberal, and of course he saw it as his mission to feed this beast even more of our money and liberty and add a huge new federal program to its already massive bureaucracy. And so it came to pass that President Barack Obama delivered to us his “fix” for the private health insurance industry called the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare.
What was his plan to fix the “broken” health care system? First he made it the law of the land that everyone should be required to purchase health insurance. Then he laid down a lot of new regulations to the health insurance industry that were destined to drive up premiums for everyone. Finally, he promised that people who couldn’t afford insurance would get a helping hand from the bottomless pockets of Uncle Sam.
The plan was hurriedly ratified while the Democrats briefly had control of the White House and both branches of Congress, before anyone had a chance to even read the whole thing, much less evaluate it carefully. And it has proved to be, quite predictably, a disaster.
The president has had to use executive actions to temporarily nullify major portions of the law due to the overwhelming negative reaction it has received from people of all political stripes. He has already unilaterally changed it 20 times. And though the problems with Obamacare have been easy to identify, the benefits are much harder to find.
According to Gallup, the number of uninsured Americans is 1.5 percent higher now than it was when Obama took office. Given that the president has had to use executive orders to take the teeth out of the “mandates” that were supposed to force everyone to be insured, it seems unlikely that those numbers will get much better anytime soon.
I can’t think of any better sign that the hilariously misnamed Affordable Care Act has been a failure than the fact that the man who proposed and championed the legislation has been backtracking on it ever since it was passed. It is painfully obvious by now that this legislation was poorly conceived and has been incompetently implemented. Repealing the law in whole is probably unrealistic, but Congress should follow the president’s lead and start undoing the damage legislatively (in a more permanent manner) with due haste.
A Republican takeover of both houses of Congress would no doubt help that process along, and I’m sure that point won’t be lost on the GOP as the mid-term elections unfold later this year. The people are restless, and the president and his party have a lot to answer for.
Bill Ferguson is a resident of Warner Robins. Readers can write him at firstname.lastname@example.org.