"Incremental" Strategy Alive and Well

Monday, January 05, 2015

Over at Commentary Magazine is an article by Tevi Troy on the rough year facing the Affordable Care Act (ACA, aka ObamaCare) in 2015. The article is valuable as an analysis of "the possible" the old saw on politics as an art tells us about. The good news, up to a point is that the law is very unpopular, faces serious legal challenges, and has become a public relations albatross for its supporters.

Unfortunately, I see cause for concern in how these problems will likely shake out in the short haul:

It is possible that none of these changes will get signed into law by President Obama. He has the veto pen, and both the House and Senate lack the two-thirds majorities necessary to override him. But the fact that these matters, and others like them, will be on the legislative agenda will keep ObamaCare on the defensive. President Obama can engage in a holding action to protect the ACA from legislative changes over the next two years. But he cannot hold off changes forever, and it is a near certainty that the next president, from whichever party, will be far more open to significant alterations.
The problem lies with the kind of tinkering we are likely to see should a Republican vote to repeal the ACA be vetoed. Success at any pecemeal changes could, through masking, delaying, or appearing to solve some of the more obvious problems with the ACA, end up mollifying enough people long enogh to "fix" the ACA, saving it from oblivion. This would be ironic since part of the rationale for the ACA has been to "fix" other problems caused by government meddling (but blamed on capitalism). It would also leave a fundamental problem, that controls breed controls, unaddressed, practically guaranteeing that any lessening of government control would be obviated sooner or later by even more central planning.

Unless those who favor freedom on principle remain vigilant to this threat, the "incremental strategy" for realizing socialized medicine will remain alive and well. This is a big part of why, as Paul Hsieh recently wrote, "The New Congress Should Propose Free-Market Health Care Reforms".

-- CAV

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