A recent post, No Cause For Celebration, argued that nothing has changed from an economic perspective as a result of the recent government shutdown. From a political perspective a major inflection, even turning point, may have occurred.
No Grand Bargain
Talk of a “Grand Bargain” before January 15 is delusional.
Simpson-Bowles provided a framework for a grand bargain early in the President’s first term. Obama and the Democrat Party ignored every recommendation of their own commission. The reaction to this effort suggests that the Democrats did not understand the mathematics of the revenue-spending-promises problem or that they didn’t believe it would blowup on their watch.
Now we are several years deeper into the hole. Today’s version of Simpson-Bowles would have to be substantially more painful to accomplish the same end.
Neither Obama nor his fellow Democrats have any stomach for revisiting this issue.
January 15 is not far away. Spending will continue to rise. Movement further down the Road to Ruin will occur.
There is one possibility, never dreamed of by Democrats that may alter dramatically the political equation. ObamaCare may do what the politicians were unable to — reverse the march toward ever bigger government.
ObamaCare — Political Implications
Politics and its practitioners have never been held in lower esteem. Both parties were diminished by the shutdown as was the President.
In terms of winners-losers, all lost. Most of the pundits believe the Republicans lost more than the Democrats. That may be so, but I am not sure this judgment holds over time. John Hayward provides his opinion on what may happen:
The Democrat “victory” is preserving a disaster that’s only going to get worse once more people can log into it and see their sky-high premiums. A party can be bled to death with “wins” like that. Hearings into the disastrous Healthcare.gov launch – a no-bid contract to a firm with cozy Obama connections – should be percolating right along as the midterm elections get under way. Remind voters, at every opportunity, that this is what Democrats shut down the government to protect.
Never stop reminding them about Obama’s Shutdown Theater antics, too. The Republicans didn’t do a good job of keeping our memories of Sequester Theater fresh. The director of the National Park Service just admitted, in congressional testimony, that all those outrageous open-air monument closings were discussed with the White House. If Obama defenders want to trot out the Empty Chair defense, fine: ask how much of this titanic government is operating on a rogue basis, and suggest maybe the President should golf less and manage more. Obama’s perpetual cover-ups and evasions of responsibility should be an anchor around his neck, a card he should never be allowed to play without facing ridicule. A lot of people out there in flyover country – including a lot of the folks who didn’t vote in 2012 – are getting really sick and tired of hearing those buck-never-got-here excuses. –John Hayward
The Democrats may have backed themselves into a corner from which there is no escape. They have taken an existential position on ObamaCare; they are all in and must fight for their Frankenstein monster no matter what.
ObamaCare represents President Obama’s signature program, arguably his only real success. For about a century universal healthcare has been the dream of every Socialist. Like all Socialist dreams, it looks better in the dream than when the lights go on. Now it is here with more than its share of warts and defects. The old warning about being careful what you wish for seems especially appropriate.
As the details of ObamaCare become known, it is likely that their blind commitment to this dysfunctional program will torpedo whatever advantage they might have gained from the shutdown. They are stuck defending what will increasingly be seen as indefensible. Here are but a few links regarding the problems:
The Medical Implications
- Sticker-shock has yet to be felt by the public. Premiums are not going down, they are going up — and substantially! That people are unable to sign up because of the incompetence of the implementation may, in retrospect, be considered a positive. The roar from the public when they learn how much more they will have to pay is likely to be deafening.
- Dissatisfaction will extend well beyond sticker-shock. People are having their insurance, which they were assured they would be able to keep, canceled.
- Jobs are not being created as a result of ObamaCare.
- Full-time jobs are turning into part-time jobs in order to avoid the regulations associated with ObamaCare.
- Some people will lose their doctors in the shuffle.
- Waits to see a doctor will extend as the demand-supply relationship shifts. More people will be demanding more medical care.
- The existing supply of doctors will be insufficient to deal with the demand. Queues and rationing are inevitable.
- The practice of medicine will become more demanding and less rewarding.
- Patient-doctor relationships will deteriorate.
- Those doctors who are able are likely to retire early, further exacerbating the supply issue.
- The best and brightest will no longer go to medical school. Talented people can make good livings without all these headaches and income constraints.
- Eventually the supply imbalance will be remedied but with less qualified and talented medical personnel.
The Potential Political Earthquake
ObamaCare may end of whatever effectiveness Obama may have had in his lame duck period. ObamaCare will fail spectacularly.
While it represents the culmination of Liberalism’s dream, its failures present an existential threat to Liberalism itself. One can only hope that this failure will cause the basic tenets of Liberalism to be re-examined. If so, ObamaCare, despite the immense short-term dislocations and pains it causes, may do the country a great service — It may sound the death knell for the Social Welfare State.
How ironic might it be that this Holy Grail of Liberalism might turn out to be a cup of hemlock unwittingly consumed by Democrats.