The Obamacare Disaster
The Poison of Party Loyalty
by NORMAN SOLOMON
NOVEMBER 18, 2013
Four years ago, countless Democratic leaders and allies pushed for passage of Barack Obama’s complex healthcare act while arguing that his entire presidency was at stake. The party hierarchy whipped the Congressional Progressive Caucus into line, while MoveOn and other loyal groups stayed in step along with many liberal pundits.
Lauding the president’s healthcare plan for its structure of “regulation, mandates, subsidies and competition,” New York Times columnist Paul Krugman wrote in July 2009 that the administration’s fate hung in the balance: “Knock away any of the four main pillars of reform, and the whole thing will collapse — and probably take the Obama presidency down with it.” Such warnings were habitual until Obamacare became law eight months later.
Meanwhile, some progressives were pointing out that — contrary to the right-wing fantasy of a “government takeover of healthcare” — Obama’s Affordable Care Act actually further enthroned for-profit insurance firms atop the system. As I wrote at the time, “The continued dominance of the insurance industry is the key subtext of the healthcare battle that has been raging in Washington. But that dominance is routinely left out of the news media’s laser-beam concentration on whether a monumental healthcare law will emerge to save Obama’s presidency.”
Today, in terms of healthcare policy, the merits and downsides of Obamacare deserve progressive debate. But at this point there’s no doubt it’s a disaster in political terms — igniting the Mad Hatter Tea Party’s phony populism, heightening prospects for major right-wing electoral gains next year and propagating the rancid notion that the government should stay out of healthcare.