Barack Obama, the adolescent president

A third rhetorical move by argumentative adolescents is to declare that there is nothing to argue about because everything is going along swimmingly. Seven times Obama asserted that the ACA is “working.” That is, however, uninformative because it is ambiguous. The ethanol program is “working” in the sense that it is being implemented as its misguided architects intended. Nevertheless, the program is a substantial net subtraction from the nation’s well-being. The same can be said of sugar import quotas, or agriculture subsidies generally, or many hundreds of other government programs that are, unfortunately, “working.”

Finally, the real discussion-stopper for the righteous — and there is no righteousness like an adolescent’s — is an assertion that has always been an Obama specialty. It is that there cannot be honorable and intelligent disagreement with him. So last week, less than two minutes after saying that the argument about the ACA “isn’t about me,” Obama said some important opposition to the ACA is about him, citing “states that have chosen not to expand Medicaid for no other reason than political spite.”

This, he said, must be spiteful because expanding Medicaid involves “zero cost to these states.” Well. The federal government does pay the full cost of expansion — for three years. After that, however, states will pay up to 10 percent of the expansion’s costs, which itself will be a large sum. And the 10 percent figure has not been graven on stone by the finger of God.