Obamacare is Here to Stay

April 6th, 2010 at 8:33 am | 16 Comments |

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The dust has now begun to settle after the firestorm that was the Waterloo column, an argument that unleashed a tumultuous, passionate, and sometimes nasty debate over political strategy within the GOP.  The debate was a necessary one, and did much in the way of illuminating the need for more strategic depth within the party.  However, it also often degenerated into hyperbole, and worse, personal attacks that clouded the debate and stunted the opportunities for learning and growth that are so crucial to a defeated entity.

As much of the debate focused feverishly on the immediate implications of the healthcare fallout, the promises to repeal and replace, the threats of zero future GOP cooperation, and the rallying cries to the 2010 midterms, little attention was paid to the long-term implications of the bill’s passage.  It is now clear that the bill cannot possibly (as a fact of math) be repealed before 2013 at the earliest, and more likely 2017, if it can be repealed at all (which it likely cannot be).  Furthermore, in that interim period the bill will have begun to be implemented.  This will change the game completely.

Why?  Because individual policy preferences do not only inform policy, policy informs individual preferences.  People build their lives around policy expectations, interest groups are created, income patterns change, and more simply, people get used to it.  As a graduate student at George Washington University, I come across many studies related to how individual preferences are affected by political and policy regimes.  One in particular caught my eye.

The title of the 2007 study is Good-Bye Lenin (Or Not?) The Effect of Communism on People’s Preferences.  Let me first say that no, I am not comparing the passage of Obama’s healthcare plan in any way to communism in East Germany, however, the study offers interesting insights into how people adjust to changes in policy regimes.  The finding was that, far from turning sharply against heavy state involvement in social well-being, the experience of East Germans under communism actually increased their preference for state intervention significantly during the 45-year existence of the communist regime.   In 1997, seven years after reunification, East Germans were about fifteen percent more likely to favor a strong state than West Germans.  By 2002, that gap had narrowed by about four and a half percent.  The study estimated that if that trend continued at a steady pace Germans would once again share a homogenous opinion regarding a strong state presence within 20 to 40 years of reunification.  That’s a cycle lasting up to 85 years, from separation to reunification, to re-assimilation.  The power of this study is that it shows that a homogenous society experienced sharp divisions in political preferences not due to geographical, income, or other factors, but to experiences under different regimes.

Although we are not in any danger at all of enduring a communist dictatorship, the study sheds insight on the possible long-term implications of the idea that the final version of the bill included a more central role for the government in healthcare than it could have.   This means that while the GOP is waiting for sufficient congressional representation to re-reform healthcare the pendulum of individual preferences will swing farther to the left than it otherwise would have, and it will take longer to push it back.  This, occurring while the United States is careening headlong into a fiscal crisis so severe that it could change the face of the nation, and perhaps of globalization as well.

Should the Waterloo thesis prove correct, then whatever short term gains the GOP may derive from healthcare in 2010 may be negated by the long-term cost to conservative priorities in the future.  After the New Deal was struck, it took 40 years for the process of deregulation to begin under Carter, and accelerate under Reagan.  The idea that a similar experience could be avoided, at the cost, possibly, of short-term political gain is a crucial thing to consider.  Now that tempers have eased, it’s time to soberly re-assess the game plan.

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16 Comments so far ↓

  • ottovbvs

    …..Correct…..these things assume a life of their and become part of the warp and weft of society…..we don’t really need studies from East Germany to inform us of this…..however the following statement is hyperbolic nonsense :

    ” This, occurring while the United States is careening headlong into a fiscal crisis so severe that it could change the face of the nation, and perhaps of globalization as well.”

    …..which is ironic since the author spends much time decrying the hyperbole surrounding this bill

  • pre-Reaganite

    So, then, is Obamacare bad for the country? That seems to be the assumption behind the article.

    Also, was the rollback of financial regulation a good thing? If I’m not mistaken, we are still emerging from the most serious financial crisis since 1929, which was in large part due to lax regulation.

  • sinz54

    ObamaCare in principle may be here to stay. It’s impossible for the GOP to seriously advocate repealing the ban on denying coverage for pre-existing conditions.

    But polls show that its potential cost is so unpopular that the GOP should make big gains this year–if they eschew the fantasy of getting a repeal bill past Obama’s veto pen. (It’s even more unpopular in the conservative states and districts that elected Blue Dog Dems.)

    http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-503544_162-20001700-503544.html

    If the GOP makes big gains this November, there are a lot of modifications the GOP could pass: Tort reform, a permanent “doc fix” for Medicare (something the Dems promise but somehow always toss away at the last minute), and especially Paul Ryan’s plan to restrain the further growth of the national debt. That’s what the GOP should run on.

    Obama has admitted that the ObamaCare bill as passed is going to need further modification. So, the GOP can key off of that to propose just such modifications.

  • franco 2

    Exactly what Democrats are counting on. They are willing to suffer setbacks in order to entrench this huge program that will keep everyone dependent. Ultimately the regime in East Germany fell, didn’t it? Why did it fall? Because the people stopped cooperating and rose up en masse. This can also happen in the USA.

    You young interns, I feel sorry for you. You have been sold a bill of goods and you will suffer. Your life expectancy will be significantly less than baby boomers who you now worship and have snowed you in school. Your freedom is pretty quickly leaving you, and you don’t see it. You thought it was Bush, now he’s gone and you think your freedoms aren’t eroding on a daily basis? And you defend government as though they are on your side? Boy are y’all naive, even for youngsters. You really think the USA is sailing on a pleasure cruise into the 21st century, but it is headed for disaster because of leftist policies.

  • Rob_654

    Hey – Right Wing crowd out there – can you please update all of us with the following from the proclamations from the Right Wing if Health Care was passed?

    We’ll just start with a few :)

    - When and where is “Armageddon” occurring?
    (I am looking around and have my camcorder but so far I can’t find anything of note).

    - Where are these “Re-Education” camps being set up?
    (Again, I just want to record this for future generations but can’t seem to find any).

    - Can you please post the names, dates and locations of the “Grannies” who have been removed from life support?
    (We need to document this genocide of our old people to make sure it never happens again).

    If there are no documented cases of the above then we need to know was the Right Wing:

    - Just wrong about these things occurring?

    - Or, were they lying about them occurring?

    Either way – just wrong or lying – the question then becomes why should we believe anything they say further about Health Care Reform if they are just so wrong about basic facts or if they are willing to lie?

  • mlindroo

    Franco2 wrote:
    > Your life expectancy will be significantly less than baby boomers

    What on earth makes you think the average life expectancy will significantly decrease in the near future??

    MARCU$

  • Rob_654

    >>> franco2 Your freedom is pretty quickly leaving you, and you don’t see it.

    What specific freedoms have we lost since Jan 20, 2009?

  • LFC

    Sinz54 said… If the GOP makes big gains this November, there are a lot of modifications the GOP could pass: Tort reform, a permanent “doc fix” for Medicare (something the Dems promise but somehow always toss away at the last minute), and especially Paul Ryan’s plan to restrain the further growth of the national debt. That’s what the GOP should run on.

    I agree with you on all but Paul Ryan’s plan. It’s completely unworkable and if the GOP ran on that, the Dems would have a field day scaring the ever-lovin’ crap out of seniors, telling them that their Social Security and Medicare are about to be dismantled by the Republicans. The upward tax relief redistribution it supposedly causes plus the CBO scoring showing that it increases the deficit (irrespective of Ryan’s claim that it will work if you just tweak the numbers) would be icing on the cake. I think every Dem would LOVE to run against that plan. The ads write themselves

    That’s why Republicans have distanced themselves from Ryan’s plan. It’s not that they slam the plan, they simply refuse to acknowledge its existence. That’s actually pretty smart politics.

  • Rob_654

    Regarding the requirement to purchase health insurance – here is my take on it.

    1) We could provide an out – if someone decides to not purchase health insurance then they have to sign a waver so that if they are injured – at any capacity – or sick – in any way and show up for medical treatment – that treatment will not be delivered in any capacity until they show the ability to pay out of pocket.

    2) If they can’t pay at time of treatment – they get wheeled out and whatever happens to them happens to them.

    If they want to yell about their “rights” – well – everyone else should have the Right to not have to pay for their medical treatment – period.

  • ottovbvs

    franco 2 // Apr 6, 2010 at 10:20 am

    “Exactly what Democrats are counting on. They are willing to suffer setbacks in order to entrench this huge program that will keep everyone dependent. Ultimately the regime in East Germany fell, didn’t it? Why did it fall? Because the people stopped cooperating and rose up en masse. This can also happen in the USA.

    You young interns, I feel sorry for you. You have been sold a bill of goods and you will suffer. Your life expectancy will be significantly less than baby boomers who you now worship and have snowed you in school. Your freedom is pretty quickly leaving you, and you don’t see it. You thought it was Bush, now he’s gone and you think your freedoms aren’t eroding on a daily basis? And you defend government as though they are on your side? Boy are y’all naive, even for youngsters. You really think the USA is sailing on a pleasure cruise into the 21st century, but it is headed for disaster because of leftist policies.”

    ……East Germany…..haaahaaaa……I wonder if the young interns can prescribe some meds for this guy because boy does he need em

  • ottovbvs

    LFC // Apr 6, 2010 at 2:03 pm

    “I agree with you on all but Paul Ryan’s plan. It’s completely unworkable ”

    ……Don’t tell Sinz that he thinks it’s the holy grail…..but otherwise I couldn’t agree more about it vote gathering potential……for democrats……the fact Sinz thinks it’s the grail gives a fair sense of his political acumen

  • franco 2

    Rob_654 // Apr 6, 2010 at 1:35 pm

    >>> franco2 Your freedom is pretty quickly leaving you, and you don’t see it.

    What specific freedoms have we lost since Jan 20, 2009?

    The freedom to decide how much or little health care insurance you can purchase for one.

    The government just took over the student loan program…that will morph into Americorps service in return for a college education there being no jobs for young people when they get out.

    You aren’t noticing the cameras at intersections, the checkpoints for DUI (and whatever else they can find..)?

    Try going here for more…but if you can’t see it already you are half-blind.

    http://reason.com/

  • franco 2

    mlindroo // Apr 6, 2010 at 1:29 pm

    Franco2 wrote:
    > Your life expectancy will be significantly less than baby boomers

    What on earth makes you think the average life expectancy will significantly decrease in the near future??

    MARCU$

    I didn’t say in the near future, because I was referring to young people alive today….

    And the answer is:

    Death panels. They’re comin’ for ya! You betcha they are!

    That’s what Sara would say. But it is essentially true. When so much money is spent on the last 6 months of life, and the government is paying the bill…well eventually they will start to cut costs. And they will have to cut costs because this thing is going to balloon so big – just like EVERY OTHER GOVERNMENT ENTITLEMENT PROGRAM in history, that they will need to make radical cost-cutting measures. But the last six months of life isn’t a fixed thing. Once they cut out the FIRST last six months, they will still be in the red and the next step is…the NEXT last six months.

    Perhaps the government will be able to fudge statistics so that it doesn’t look too bad like they do in other countries with state-run health care, so you drones will THINK your life expectancy will stay the same. Oh and that’s IF global warming doesn’t kick in, if Obama and his successors keep nukes out of jihadis hands for the next 30 to 40 years..I don’t think these youngsters have much to look forward to, and they are not serving themselves well by listening to leftist professors living in a dream world.

  • franco 2

    Rob_654 // Apr 6, 2010 at 7:08 pm

    “Regarding the requirement to purchase health insurance – here is my take on it.

    1) We could provide an out – if someone decides to not purchase health insurance then they have to sign a waver so that if they are injured – at any capacity – or sick – in any way and show up for medical treatment – that treatment will not be delivered in any capacity until they show the ability to pay out of pocket.

    2) If they can’t pay at time of treatment – they get wheeled out and whatever happens to them happens to them.

    If they want to yell about their “rights” – well – everyone else should have the Right to not have to pay for their medical treatment – period.”

    I’m not sure I fully understand the intention of this post so forgive me if it is a parody of leftist reaction…but if it is it is a brilliant summation of how leftists think.

    Today you are not required to purchase health insurance, but if you get sick hospitals have to treat you anyway. If you can’t pay they are stuck with the bill.

    Under Rob 654 world, someone who refused to buy insurance would be put out in the street with NO CARE. I would be tempted to say facetiously, “Isn’t that what we have now?” But that would be wrong because at least now they have to give treatment, and if you have money stashed away somewhere you have to pay or go bankrupt. Under Rob 654 plan the patient is refused treatment and dies.

    This is how the totalitarian moralistic left operates, folks!

  • franco 2

    Ooops I just read the Rob_654 // Apr 6, 2010 at 12:33 pm screed and my belief that this was a parody is obviously off-base.

    Rob here is a certifiable moron. (besides being a Stalinist of the highest order)

    Rob doesn’t realize that, for one thing, the bill doesn’t start until 2014, and just like Obama’s recent speech, like the DAY after the bill was signed, saying he still hears birds chirping and the sky isn’t falling…well that’s fodder for political idiots and true believers. These must be the same people who are calling up insurance companies asking where they sign up for their FREE Health care!

    Everyone knows the ship of state moves slowly and to trot out these silly tropes like “I don’t see grannies being unplugged”, blah blah as evidence that there is nothing to be afraid of in this massive bill that will change they relationships between patients hospitals and doctors forever, is positively asinine.