Sunday, May 25, 2014

ObamaCare Clash with American Creed  and American Culture

Sapping  a solemn creed with a solemn sneer.

Lord Byron (1788-1824), Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage

ObamaCare is in a clash with the American creed and culture. 

President Obama, with his promise of a transcendent and transformative  presidency, tends to solemnly sneer at the aspirations of  middle class Americans and American immigrants, with their  desires to live and breathe free of the shackles of government. 

The President may be right that minorities seek a government hand up through social reorganization and redistribution of health and wealth,  but that’s another story, and it does not fit with the mainstream American dream.

Let me explain.

In 2007,  I wrote a book Voices of Health Reform: Interviews with Health Care Stakeholders at Work. The book included 42 interviews with leading thought leaders from across the political spectrum.

I concluded the book with this passage:

“Our health system is a creature of our culture. When asked what Americans believe, Garry Orren, a professor of political science at Brandeis, just outside Boston, who polls for the New York Times and Washington Post, said,

 ’A good place to start to remember we are pro-democracy and anti-government. It comes down to ideas that are essentially anti-authority and tend toward self-regulation. It there were an American creed, it might begin.””

The American Creed

"One, Government is best that governs least.”

“Two, majority rule.”

“Three, equality of opportunity.”

Obamacare and the Creed

Think about this creed.  Consider what has happened since Obama was elected in 2008. In six years, he and his administration have turned the three  parts of this creed on their  respective heads.

One, we have an unprecedented expansion of government, including health care, with the belief that government is best that governs most.  It is a government of experts, of the cultural and managerial elite, whose sensibilities lead them to believe they know what is best for the rest of us.

Two, it’s true: the majority in Washington  have ruled. Democrats have had majorities in the House and the Senate with a Democrat as President, and they have ruled.   But what does the term “majority” mean ?  The “political majority” in Washington, which is transient?   The “majority of the people”, who in 95% of national polls dating back to March 23, 2010, when ObamaCare passed, have opposed ObamaCare, 65% by double digit margins?  The “majority in the House of Representatives”, who are said to represent the views of people of the 50 states.

Three, instead of equality of opportunity, the Obama administration has sought to achieve equality of results, namely, redistribution of wealth and equality of health plans for everyone with one-size-fits-all health plans for all. To do this, they impose an individual mandate, with homogenization of plans for old and young, rich and poor, in all sections of the country, and an employer mandate, with  employers and the middle class   paying the ObamaCare freight, and paying the price in terms of part time work,  high rates of unemployment, and slow economic growth.

Back to the Creed – Center Right Not Center Left

With the economy stuck in the mud and the middle class fearing for its future, with dropping incomes and lost jobs and health plans, the American people do not seem to like what they see. Polls indicate the majority are calling again for a government that governs least, for a Republican majority in the House of Representatives and perhaps in the Senate , and for equality of opportunity for Americans who want to keep existing plans and for  choice of health  plans and doctors  outside of government mandates, even if they have to pay directly for quality and access to care.

We are a Center Right country that has just experienced five years of Center Left rule, and, and the majority of us  do not seem to like what we see. At the same time, however, the ruling party has changed the health care landscape, as is its prerogative, and it will be messy to undo what has been done.

What disturbs me right now is health plans are reacting to ObamaCare by either dropping coverage for the insured or raising premiums to such an extent that health care is becoming unaffordable for the currently insured and “narrowing networks” so much people do not know whether they can keep their doctor or who their next doctor will be.

The Center Left argues health reform is needed to counter capitalistic  and provider greed. The young and old, sick and well, healthy and wealthy, in other words, everybody, ought to have equal plans, with redistribution of benefits for all, even if they do not need it,  and if those with existing coverage have to suffer and to be shifted to more expensive government policies or to Medicaid.

The Center Right says: We are a capitalistic nation. You cannot repeal the laws of economics and human nature.  People want choice and quick access to the best of care, not rationing and waiting lines. as exemplified in the current VA crisis.

Nonsense, counters the Center Left’s spokespersons, if Germany, the Netherlands, and Switzerland can cover all with private plans, why can’t we? “The health care overhaul that passed Congress is far from ideal.  But it does represent progress. The fact that it is beginning to disrupt the status quo — that some insurance policies will eventually be eliminated and some inefficient insurers will have to leave the market altogether — is all the proof we need.” (David Leonardt, Health Care ‘s Uneven Road to a New Era,” New York Times, October 5, 2010).

Let the voters decide in November 2o14 between the Center Right and Center Left. Let the majority rule, and let there be equal opportunity for all.

Tweet:  ObamaCare is in a clash with the American Creed and American Culture,  which  favors  government that governs least, and in which the majority of people rule and equal opportunity for all prevails.

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