The conventional wisdom on its anniversary since enactment is that ObamaCare cannot be overturned because Senate Democrats will refuse to even consider it and because the President would veto repeal of his signature issue even if they did. But 35 years of grassroots advocacy has taught me that the body politic can overwhelm and eclipse conventional wisdom and make the impossible, possible.
The House has a budget proposal by Rep. Paul Ryan that repeals ObamaCare and saves $1.8 trillion dollars. Every Senate Republican has voted to defund ObamaCare in the Continuing Resolution. Neither effort can get past Senate Democrats or the President so what’s the point? It’s a fool’s mission say Democrats still cheerleading for this massive new government program. Missed in this calculation–as usual–are the real-world effects of ObamaCare and the reaction of voters.
Beneath all the politics and posturing is the reality of a flawed new entitlement program enacted over the objections of a majority of Americans. As this ill-conceived mistake begins affecting average Americans with long waiting lines, the loss of personal physicians, intrusive and overly complex paperwork and higher and higher costs and taxes, the public may very well rise up and change the “political reality”.
So far, the two million petitions we have delivered demanding repeal have had little effect on still tone-deaf legislators in the Senate. But implementation of ObamaCare itself will become the most powerful argument for repeal. It happened in 1989 when senior citizens revolted and demanded repeal of the Catastrophic Care Act. Legislators suddenly began fearing for their jobs when angry citizens insisted the law was onerous, expensive, intrusive and unfair. Sound familiar?
Insurers have recently warned that healthcare premiums will have to double, at least. We know that millions of Americans will be dropped from healthcare benefits as employers figure out that paying ObamaCare fines is far cheaper than paying for greatly expanded benefits. We know that all those who are dropped by employers will not be keeping their own trusted doctors but will be required to get a new, unfamiliar doctor under consumer-unfriendly healthcare exchanges. And we’ve just learned that the HHS forms to obtain health coverage run 15 pages with 21 different intrusive steps and that this complexity will be reviewed by three separate federal agencies before any determination is made.
What’s not to like, ObamaCare proponents still ask? It is a question that an ostrich would ask while focusing on the hole in the sand. When costs explode far beyond anything predicted so far, our government intrudes further than ever before and taxes and penalties start falling like rocks on the heads of just about everyone there will be a full-throated rebellion that will evaporate the “political reality” like a puff of smoke before a hurricane force wind. And this is just at the grassroots level.
The central promise of ObamaCare was reduction in healthcare costs. That promise ignores the simple fact that adding 30 million new patients in the healthcare system without any new doctors or hospitals is a supply and demand equation that guarantees escalating prices. New federal debt will further sap our economy and state governments will feel it first with greatly expanded Medicaid costs. Education, transportation, law enforcement and every other responsibility of state government will take a hit because of ObamaCare until state legislators dig out of deepening debt holes with higher taxes. Their tax roles will be reduced, however, because small businesses can’t grow beyond 50 employees because of perverse Obamacare penalties. Add more voices to the chorus demanding repeal.
All of this pain and damage to families, businesses, states and the nation can be avoided but only with that rarest of qualities in Washington, D.C.—humility.
That’s another thing that powerful grassroots uprisings always deliver to the political class. Good intentions will be a poor excuse for the suffering ObamaCare will produce and for the arrogance of enacting this law over the objections of so many citizens. It’s the President’s signature issue but it does not have the signature of the governed. That’s going to become even more obvious in coming months.
Ken Hoagland is chairman of Restore America’s Voice, a grassroots advocacy organization that believes that “consent of the governed” is too often ignored in public policy decisions. Find them at:www.repealhealthcareact.org or on Facebook at Repeal-It-Now.