The road to single payer is paved with good intentions

I recently wrote about the trap which the Democrats set for Republicans when they initially passed Obamacare. (See: The decline and fall of Obamacare and the AHCA.) At the time, I speculated that American voters had been so indoctrinated to expect the “good things” in Obamacare that it would essentially be impossible for the GOP to take those goodies away without committing political suicide. This is likely to produce a scenario where the “repeal and replace” effort turns out to be a crippling, expensive solution which collapses the health insurance system and puts us on the path to single payer for the entire country.

So what’s the only solution left to keep delivering bread and circuses to the masses? Probably a completely top-down, socialist single payer program, which will rapidly bankrupt the entire system. (California is already finding that out the hard way.) You can expect to eventually see some Republicans going along with that line of thinking too, believe it or not. It’s that or the aforementioned head-in-the-oven scenario.

I received some negative pushback for that one, which is understandable since most fiscal conservatives dread the wreckage which would result from such a scheme. (Including yours truly.) But I’m obviously not the only one thinking along these lines. Hugh Hewitt has a piece in the Washington Post this week in which he sees the same dismal scenario playing out right now if the GOP doesn’t step carefully.

The iceberg approaches for the Senate GOP’s ship, but unlike with the Titanic, there is plenty of time to turn. Republicans slowed the engines and thus the speed by postponing a vote until after the July 4 recess, but they are still set to collide with the consequences of breaking a core promise to the voters who sent them to Washington. If the GOP does not disengage the country’s health-care system from the disaster of Obamacare, we are headed for the misery of single-payer. This is the last chance to divert that outcome…

Now there is a president who will sign their bill, if they can pass one. If they don’t, single-payer will arrive by default — the collapse of health care is not acceptable in a country as wealthy as ours — and the GOP will have earned a long exile. It’s a shameful capitulation to fear: fear of the media and fear of the Congressional Budget Office — even though the CBO’s health-care projections frequently have been wrong. The left and the right of the GOP caucus need to compromise now, or be marked as pushovers or worse. There is nothing they can say to defend this collapse.

Read Hugh’s entire article to get the full sense of how dire this is. But at the same time, I don’t share his optimism regarding a path out of the wilderness here. He talks passionately about the current Senate bill and how it would provide, “needed changes to Medicaid” and a method which involves, “devolving authority to the states” for portions of that program. That’s small government, fiscal conservatism in a nutshell and anyone who follows such things could see the wisdom of it. But that’s not the mindset of the general public and efforts to educate them on some of the harsher realities and necessities involved have failed utterly.

Just this morning I saw a new poll from Morning Consult which shows that voters have heard about the proposed “cuts” to Medicaid in the bill and they don’t like it at all. How could they miss that message? It’s practically all that the Democrats and most of the media (but I repeat myself) have been screaming about since McConnell unveiled the bill.

I don’t want to continually play the role of Eeyore here, but I think the Democrats have already won that argument in the court of public opinion. Too many voters have zero interest in hearing about the long range threats to our economy and the entire health insurance industry which come along with the Democrats’ proposals. Making a fiscally conservative argument which takes away or limits “goodies” which the public has come to expect is, I fear, a losing proposition. The road to single payer is in front of us and it will take someone far smarter than me to find an exit ramp at this point.