ObamaCare is politics, not a plan
Megan McArdle at Bloomberg News makes the case that Obama's not really even pretending to make ObamaCare "work" any more. He's just trying to keep it alive. He thinks the midterm elections are the finish line; if he can drag his diseased health care plan across without producing a veto-proof Republican majority (or Republicans with enough Democrat support get a repeal bill passed) it won't matter how horrible the Affordable Care Act's failure is. We'll be stuck with it forever, as people grow dependent on subsidies, the Medicaid surge produces a bumper crop of welfare-state hostages, and it becomes difficult to see how the damage could be repaired even if ObamaCare was repealed.
We keep thinking that the 2014 elections will come off the rails for Democrats when the gigantic surge of group market cancellations hits, and Obama's Big Lie takes its proper place alongside the worst excesses of tyrannical deception in history. It's bad enough to see five or six million people losing their plans; how about 50, 60, or 90 million? Democrats are sweating bullets over the popular outrage they'll face, and not just in purple or red states. A lot of the people writing anguished "Obama lied, my insurance died" testimonials in the media are faithful Democrat voters from deep blue districts.
But what if that's not quite how it plays out? Okay, the avalanche of cancellations hits, probably over the summer. People lose their cookies. A few Democrats crack under the pressure... but Obama holds most of the caucus together, telling them to ride it out. The fall arrives... and the new meme is that hey, it was awful, but it's done. Obama's socialist omelette required breaking millions of eggs... but now those eggs can't be unscrambled. Not even full repeal would automatically put things right.
That's what today's press conference struck me as: not just a retread of his old campaign speeches, but a dry run for the message of despair and hopelessness he'll be selling through the 2014 elections. It's over, it's done, there's no going back, all you can do is trust the Lightworker and hope for change. The old way has been destroyed.
Obama's also sharpening his deeply divisive message, perfecting his plan to pit Americans against each other in perpetual warfare. You lost your insurance because of his Big Lie? You don't matter at all. He said it right into the faces of those five million today. He dismissed them as mere "anecdotes." He also told the people complaining about his crapware website that they're crazy, everything is working fine, and the unhappy customers don't matter.
He's looking to marginalize dissent, the way every totalitarian does. The tactic is accomplished with far more brutality in the ugly tyrant states, but you'll notice Obama has a sizable corps of willing minions to carry out his strategy without violence - he directly addressed them at the end of his speech, giving them marching orders to spread the Good Word about his health care scheme. Every dinner table is to be politicized, not just Thanksgiving and Christmas tables. He wants the dissenters to feel isolated and alone, as if they're lonely malcontents in a sea of people who just love ObamaCare. Skillfully applied, this tactic can be used to subdue dissent even when the opposition is much larger than the body of loyal regime supporters. The only way to break the spell is with a "preference cascade," when dissenters make contact with each other and realize they're not isolated at all.
But it's going to take a lot of opposition to break free of ObamaCare. The political landscape is on the regime's side. A veto-proof repeal majority will be extremely difficult to put together. Obama hardly needs to make his disastrous health care plan work, or convince everyone to like it. He just has to keep dislike tamped down enough to avoid a historic landslide in 2014.
This business of living from one news cycle to the next, massaging public opinion enough to keep dissent from solidifying into a mighty force, is a direct refutation of Obama's professed political philosophy. He's supposed to be a brilliant central planner, using the power of the State to design and impose a superior, orderly solution that can allocate resources far better than the messy decisions of free citizens. The reality of ObamaCare in no way resembles the statist fairy tale it was sold as. It's a rolling disaster, kept alive from week to week by improvisation and political trickery.