Obamacare: conservatism as the new liberalism


Even though I think the Affordable Care Act is a bad law, I’m opposed to most of the people who oppose the law.

Most opponents of the law are against it because they don’t agree with having the government guarantee a minimum level of medical care to all.  I’m opposed to the law because I don’t think it will come anywhere near to accomplishing that purpose.

Defenders of the Affordable Care Act point out that it originated as a conservative Republican plan, drafted by the right-wing Heritage Foundation and first implemented by Mitt Romney as governor of Massachusetts.

From my standpoint, that is the problem. I am a liberal Democrat who voted for Barack Obama in 2008, and I did not vote for him in order to advance a conservative Republican agenda.

I’m pretty sure that the Heritage staff did not offer up their plan because they felt an urgent desire to assure health insurance for everybody.  I think they proposed their plan as a way to avoid enacting Medicare-for-all, aka a single-payer plan.

The chief merit of the Obama / Heritage plan from the right-wing point of view is that it locks the for-profit insurance companies into the system and gives them a captive market, even though they add no value to medical care.  The threat of a universal system would be that there would be no role for the insurance cmpanies.

Back in 2008, the single-payer plan was the mainstream Democratic position. Both Hillary Clinton and John Edwards advocated it in their presidential campaigns.  Barack Obama offered a moderate compromise, a public option in which an affordable government insurance plan would be made available, which at the time that seemed reasonable to me.

But as soon as President Obama took office, he embraced the Heritage / Romney plan.   His staff ridiculed anybody who took his campaign promise seriously.

If Obama thought that this would bring the Republicans on board, he was sadly mistaken.  They reverted to what they really wanted all along, which is to do nothing or take away what we have.

In five years, the former mainstream liberal position has been taken off the table for discussion. The former mainstream conservative position has been redefined as the liberal position.  The extreme right-wing position which was not then on the table has been redefined as the mainstream conservative position.

Nobody really wanted Obamacare.  It was originally proposed as a lesser evil from the conservative point of view,  and it was enacted as being a lesser evil from the liberal point of view.   The right-wing Republican goal is to get rid of it altogether.   The liberal Democratic goal should be to replace it with something adequate.


Obamacare VS Single Payer — Top 10 Things the ACA Gave Us VS the Top 10 Things We Gave Up by Bruce A. Dixon of the Black Agenda Report

A Letter From the GOP to Itself: ‘Why We Will Come Out Ahead’ by Robert Kuttner for the Huffington Post

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3 Responses to “Obamacare: conservatism as the new liberalism”

  1. Notes To Ponder Says:

    You hit the nail on the head with “for profit insurance companies” – holy crap! It makes my Canadian head spin! America is run by “for profit” lobbies and palm greasing nonsense. Affordable, assured healthcare for all citizens? I can’t even begin to fathom what argument any reasonable person has with that.

    Wake up America – your petty squabbling will be the death of you.


  2. philebersole Says:

    Most of us Americans love Medicare, which we copied from Canada, but Medicare for everyone seems beyond our reach.


  3. Robert Heineman Says:

    The basic problem with ACA stems from the President’s failure to understand the American policy process and his disengagement from has to be done to make it work. The disjunction between his rhetoric and action is matched only faintly by JFK. Basicallly he turned this program over to Congress and the results are predictably chaotic. Someone has to lead and to set boundaries. I support universal healthcare and it appears to me that Romney’s plan has worked pretty well in Massachusetts. To final points: 1) the American policy process move incrementally and Clinton’s and Obama’s efforts simply do not understand this. Bush’s implementation of Part D of Medicare did and was quite successful. The assertion that the Republicans do not want effective health care is simply unwarranted. 2) A single-payer plan draws on inapt analogies–the Europeans and Social Security–neither of which have any useful applicability here because a) the European system is framed by highly discipline parties and a highly trained, professional bureaucracy and b) Social Security is based on a simple formula that for the most part is not susceptible to interest manipulation. R.H. from AU


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