October 15, 2017

THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU RAM THROUGH UNPOPULAR LEGISLATION ON A PARTY-LINE VOTE: Obamacare Was Built With the Flaws Trump Now Exploits: Executive orders allowed the past administration to keep the program alive. They allow this administration to destroy it.

Do I just hate the poor so much that I can’t stand to see them getting help paying for health care? Well, no. I have no particular objection to the payments as policy. Except for one small thing, which is that they seem to be sort of illegal.

But at this point, such arguments are moot. It might be more fruitful for Obamacare’s supporters to ask what role they themselves played in bringing us to this pass.

A few years ago, as we all stood gaping at the disastrously bungled launch of the Obamacare exchanges, I was invited by Intelligence Squared to participate in a debate: “Resolved: Obamacare Is Beyond Rescue.” Longtime readers know that my motto is “Predictions are hard, especially about the future.” I was thus reluctant to declare, without equivocation, that Obamacare was already dead, dead, dead. But I’m a huge fan of Intelligence Squared, so I accepted, and then I resorted to a time-honored debate-weasel: 2 I reframed the question.

Thus I chose not to argue that Obamacare was going to collapse and be repealed in its entirety, but rather, that Obamacare would not, and could not, be the program that had been promised or intended. It had already failed to deliver on key promises for coverage, affordability and of course, the infamous promise that “if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor.” It was also dangerously unstable, requiring steady executive intervention just to keep the program from collapsing. I argued that these executive interventions, enthusiastically supported by the law’s proponents, were setting a precedent that would eventually be used against it. Worried that health care was too hostage to the vicissitudes of the markets, Democrats had instead made it the prisoner of politics.

“Essentially they’ve made it so that Republicans can undo two-thirds of this law with a stroke of the presidential pen,” I said at the close of my opening statement. “Obamacare is now beyond rescue. The administration has destroyed their own law in order to save it.” Four years later, we are watching those dominos fall.

Indeed. But there’s a bright side: By Cutting Off Obamacare’s Insurer Subsidies, Trump Might Help More People Get Health Coverage: The president has finally brought the law into constitutional compliance.

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