Podhoretz takes on Obamacare defenders

John Podhoretz explores in a Commentary column various left-of-center responses to the Congressional Budget Office’s projections of Obamacare’s negative impact on employment.

Its defenders have been reduced, over the past couple of days, to a series of risible partisan “gotcha” responses that indicate just how desperate things are getting for those who support ObamaCare.

Risible response #1: Republicans dishonestly mischaracterized its findings by claiming the report said 2 million will be thrown out of work when all it said was that the lure of subsidies will cause the departure of workers from the workforce equivalent to 2 million full-time jobs. OK, perhaps there was a failure of nuance in the effort to seek quick political gain, but the Talmudic analysis of the difference between the two is ridiculous. Fine, so 2 million won’t be thrown out of work; rather, they will leave working voluntarily because the deal they get from the government for not working is too good to pass up. That’s a better argument?

Risible response #2: Republicans and conservatives are hypocrites because they also claim to want to decouple health care from employment. For decades now, conservative health-care reformers have pointed out that the single worst policy decision in this entire mess was to give employers the tax deduction for providing health care rather than giving the deduction to each individual worker. But the reason for this was to empower individuals and to give them the responsibility for policing their own health care decisions rather than creating a deranged system in which the consumer has no idea what anything actually costs and has no incentive to shop around for a better deal. It wasn’t to decouple health care from employment by making the dole more attractive than self-sufficiency.

Risible response #3: Conservatives mischaracterized the report’s findings on the number of uninsured under ObamaCare. Without it, the report says, there would be 57 million uninsured by 2024. With it, the report says, there will be 31 million uninsured by 2014. Thus, ObamaCare will provide health care to 26 million people who otherwise wouldn’t have it. So it’s good. The point I made in my column was that President Obama said in September 2009 there were 31 million uninsured. The report says in 2024 there will be 31 million uninsured. If 31 million uninsured was unacceptable in 2009 and the key fact in creating this new $2 trillion program, how could the projection that there will be 31 million uninsured in 2024 be considered an endorsement of ObamaCare’s success? In any case, what is missing from any such projection is the fact that one way or another, had there been no ObamaCare, there would still have been significant revision at some point of the health-care system, which everyone acknowledges is broken. Since we can’t know what other changes might have been made, we can’t possibly know how many uninsured there might have been in this alternate 2024.

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