Opinion: With AHCA, Americans must choose between socialism and liberty
By Louis DeBroux
Is America on the road to socialized health care? According to conservative pundit Dr. Charles Krauthammer, we are. But what prompted such a claim, at a time when President Donald Trump sits in the White House, and with a Republican-controlled House and Senate?
In a recent interview, speaking on the GOP’s ObamaCare repeal-and-replace bill, Dr. Krauthammer said “Look at the terms of the debate. Republicans are not arguing the free market anymore. They have sort of accepted the fact that the electorate sees health care as not just any commodity… It is something people now have a sense that government ought to guarantee… The terms of debate are entirely on the grounds of the liberal argument that everybody ought to have it — once that happens; you’re going to end up with a single-payer.”
To be sure, the American Health Care Act (AHCA) is not, in this first iteration, the patient-centered, free market-driven bill so many conservatives dreamed of for the last eight years. Part of the reason is procedural. On the first pass, the bill must concentrate only on the taxing and spending provisions in order to qualify for passage under reconciliation.
Initially, Congressman Barry Loudermilk (GA-11), one of the most conservative members of Congress with an ACU rating of 96%, was not prepared to vote for the AHCA. However, after continuing negotiation with the White House added more conservative provisions to the bill, and assurances that additional issues would be addressed in follow-up legislation, Loudermilk declared that he would vote for the AHCA. Those changes were still not enough for Congressman Hice initially, but after the last round of negotiations, Hice agreed to support the bill that passed the House.
The other reason the bill is not yet more conservative and free market is political, and that is the much harder obstacle to overcome.
Much like the early days of the TEA Party, where rally-goers waved signs demanding government reduce spending, lower taxes, and stay out of health care (but leave Medicare alone!), Republican lawmakers are today hearing from constituents demanding a full and complete repeal of ObamaCare… so long as the GOP leaves the pre-existing coverage provisions in place, and being able to keep 26-year old “children” on parents’ policies.
This is what Dr. Krauthammer is referring to. ObamaCare has never once enjoyed majority support of the American people. However, millions of Americans are demanding Republicans retain some of the very provisions that bankrupted more than three-quarters of ObamaCare CO-OPs, which drove premiums, deductibles, and co-pays through the roof, and which resulted in thousands of doctors refusing ObamaCare/Medicare/Medicaid coverage.
Progressive Democrats have largely succeeded in changing the trajectory of the argument for health care, convincing Americans that health care (which NO American is denied) and health insurance are the same, and that health care is a “right”, rather than a need to be filled. And if health care is a right, then, they argue, health insurance should be as well, regardless of ability to pay.
But health care can’t be a right, because by definition it imposes an obligation on someone else. My right to free speech does not obligate you to publish my thoughts, and my right to keep and bear arms does not obligate you to buy me a gun. But my “right” to health care does obligate you, if you are a health care professional (even one with hundreds of thousands in medical school debt in need of repayment), to provide me with your time and the tools of your trade in order to address my needs, even if I can’t pay.
But why, many conservative argue, aren’t Republicans brave enough to force through a true, free market health care bill, now that they have the House, Senate, and White House?
Maybe because they see the character assassination being waged against them by Democrats and the media, and an insufficiently skeptical voting populace who accepts the most insane hyperbole as fact, and then seeks to punish the alleged offenders.
Right now, progressive Democrats and the media (but I repeat myself) are filling the airwaves and the internet with the most vile, hateful lies about the impact of the ObamaCare repeal bill, claiming it will cause tens of millions of people to lose their health insurance (something ObamaCare already did), and that the GOP is literally murdering fellow Americans. They claim the GOP-bill will deny treatment to rape victims because it would consider rape a pre-existing condition, which is a damnable, disgusting lie. And yet far, far too many Americans blindly accept these lies as fact.
The reality is the AHCA is the first step in undoing the ObamaCare disaster, the slithering tentacles of which are deeply embedded in the regulatory state. More must be done during the next two phases, and a failure to pass those next two phases will constitute a massive failure on the part of Republicans. At the same time, Americans must realize that insurance is a mechanism for risk dispersal for unexpected occurrences. If you smoke three packs a day and are obese because of poor eating habits, then lung cancer and diabetes are not pre-existing conditions. They are inevitable consequences of stupidity and poor decision-making.
ObamaCare is symptomatic of a larger problem; namely, that the American people have largely embraced quasi-socialism, in deed if not name. By popular demand, government has gone from the protector of rights to the guarantor of privileges now defined as “rights”. The “right” to education, the “right” to health care, the “right” to high-speed internet, the “right” to never be offended. TEA Partiers want government out of health care, but government better stay away from their Social Security and Medicare! Progressives demand that government stay out of our bedrooms, while simultaneously demanding taxpayers pay for birth control and abortion-on-demand.
This should come as no surprise to students of history. The brilliant French economist Frederic Bastiat warned that "Government is the great fiction, through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else." Self-proclaimed socialist George Bernard Shaw was even more blunt, smugly admitting that "A government that robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend upon the support of Paul."
Yes, Republicans should show moral fortitude and stand up for the Constitution and the cause of liberty. At the same time, in order to retain and secure the republic, Americans must support, rather than attack, those who stand up for liberty and personal responsibility.
Louis DeBroux is a small business owner and chairman of the Bartow County GOP.