Wednesday, July 10, 2013
Cass Sunstein writes an interesting article on confirmation bias
among certain detractors of ObamaCare. (Interestingly, Sunstein (or at least his editor) feels the need to call such detractors "haters".)
Noting the chorus of "I told you so" roused by the recent decision by the Obama administration to delay implementation of part of the measure by a year, Sunstein likens the chorus to the work of Edwin During-Lawrence, whose work, Bacon is Shakespeare, he cites as an example of confirmation bias. He continues:
To the critics of the health-care law, however, the real lesson of the announcement is clear: OBAMACARE IS A DEBACLE. And to those critics, that is the real lesson of essentially every development in health-care reform.It is tempting to liken Sunstein's serial dismissals of the difficulties in implementing ObamaCare to his holding the preordained conclusion that OBAMACARE IS JUST ANOTHER LAW. However, I think it is more important to concede that he has raised a good point.
If governors decline to establish state exchanges, leaving that task to the federal government, then Obamacare is a debacle. If the administration releases a complex application form for the coming exchanges, then Obamacare is a debacle (even if the application is just a draft). If states opt out of the Medicaid expansion, then Obamacare is a debacle. [link dropped]
Perhaps the recent delay really is just because reporting requirements are in dire need of revision. I haven't studied the matter enough to know whether Sunsteins's position is correct or the decision really is a symptom of the law being so badly written that it is, beyond being improper, also a comedy of bungling. It doesn't matter which is the case, because a principled opponent of ObamaCare will see the latter case as merely a symptom of a greater problem. Even were the law flawlessly executed, it would remain immoral (and an improper use of government) to dictate to physicians and patients alike the terms by which they are to do business. (Oh, and it would, as such, be a debacle on those merits alone.) Any opponent who can't see this -- who feels the need to grasp at straws -- is going to lose the fight to repeal it, if he sees the need for such a fight at all. ("'Repeal and replace' Republicans, I'm talking to you.)
Maybe this decision deserves ridicule, maybe not. Just don't hang your hat on it. To do so is to concede a bigger issue: whether we should have such a law at all.