Lion of the Blogosphere

Conservatives and Obamacare

I wrote the following in 2012:

* * *

There has suddenly been a lot of words wasted by conservatives about how Obamacare is the worst affront to the Constitution in the history of the United States.

Why haven’t these same conservatives been complaining about Medicaid? Or Reagan’s Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act which essentially created free healthcare for everyone? Or various zillions of special tax breaks for doing something. What’s the difference between a tax break for buying an electric car versus a tax penalty for not buying an electric car? Sounds like the same thing to me. For that matter, we already have a tax break for buying health insurance, which isn’t any different than a tax penalty for not buying it. And Republicans actually love that tax break. Any change to the tax code which is worded as a “break” Republicans love, and any change that is worded as an “increase” or a “penalty” Republicans hate, even though they are two sides of the same coin, using the tax code to reward desirable behavior and punish undesirable behavior.

Conservatives, grow up.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

March 3, 2016 at 9:54 am

55 Responses

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  1. You don’t see the problem with creating a new class of people who rely on the government to provide an important benefit?

    Obamacare increases the size of the free stuff army, which makes it ever so much harder for future conservatives to win elections.


    March 3, 2016 at 10:08 am

    • Which is hilarious because conservative activists have been known to say, “Keep the government’s hands off my Medicare!”


      March 3, 2016 at 12:42 pm

    • The free stuff army is voting for Trump in large numbers. Most of the “free stuff” army is white, and apparently ethnic identification still trumps narrow economic benefits. The funny thing about a lot of people who get free stuff is that they are too stupid to realize they are getting free stuff, and think they are independent self-reliant people.

      Peter Akuleyev

      March 3, 2016 at 1:16 pm

      • And most of the murderers are white too.


        March 3, 2016 at 2:32 pm

    • Almost everyone relies on the government to provide important benefits.


      March 3, 2016 at 4:02 pm

  2. I suspect your questions are rhetorical but the answer to all is simply that conservatives are retards. Retards don’t know that they are retards, that’s part of the retardation.

    Conservatives will never grow up. They need to be destroyed. After our Glorious Leader wins the nomination, Reaganite Conservatism will be destroyed once and for always.

    And the Revolution shall tolerate no dissent! Frequent purges against counter revolutionary forces must and will be launched to guard against the rise of new enemies of the people.

    Otis the Sweaty

    March 3, 2016 at 10:11 am

    • Sounds like you’d be a perfect candidate to ghostwrite The Donald’s Little Red Book.

      Lewis Medlock

      March 3, 2016 at 12:45 pm

  3. You don’t seem to understand Americans very well.

    Americans don’t view tax breaks and getting something from the government. They view it as keeping something that’s already theirs (their income). That is very different from being required to purchase something (health insurance) merely on the condition of being a living, breathing human being.

    Andrew E.

    March 3, 2016 at 10:18 am

    • Well, you need to be a net taxpayer in the first place to get a tax break.


      March 3, 2016 at 2:31 pm

      • “Well, you need to be a net taxpayer in the first place to get a tax break.”

        The government also gives out credits and negative taxes. All constitutional under the government’s taxing and spending power (at least as interpreted by the Supreme Court since FDR was president).

        Lion of the Blogosphere

        March 3, 2016 at 2:38 pm

    • “Tax credits” are cash payments. You can back more in tax credits than you ever pay in taxes!


      March 3, 2016 at 5:46 pm

  4. First, until Chief Justice Roberts’ called it a tax, the Congressmen pushing the ACA went to great lengths to prevent the same extraction from being categorized as a tax. So you have something that is not a tax so it can get approval by the legislature, but then it is a tax to get past the judiciary. That is really a horrible, much more cynical than usual, way to make law. It should be criticized as widely as possible.

    Second, it is a new development to now tax people for not doing something. In the past, taxes were levied when people went out and did something, like buying something or earning income. And people could be taxed but then get a discount (tax break) if they went out and did something. Its generally agreed by good government types that tax codes are used far too often by the federal government, incidentally. Now you tax people for not doing something. Its like arresting people and charging them for not doing something. It may pass muster constitutionally, but you really don’t want to go there and the political culture should discourage it.


    March 3, 2016 at 10:31 am

  5. The main problem is an extension of why only the Scandis can have a real welfare state. It’s not the mechanism that Republicans have an issue with, it’s who’s being subsidized.

    And fine. Whatever. But it’s kind of galling to see the establishment types swear blind that nooooo, it’s not identity politics! American conservatism is totally universal! Everyone should do it, and it works for everyone!

    Interestingly enough, this annoys people far more than an honest statement of promoting their own peoples’ politics, for their own people.


    March 3, 2016 at 10:40 am

    • You’ve just explained the connection between marxism and so-called “anti-racism”. It’s not that marxists give a shit about blacks. Its that they’re true believers in marxism and incite racial grievance to promote their political desires. That’s why marxists are the largest promoters of racism in America.


      March 3, 2016 at 12:34 pm

      • I’m sorry,but that seems like the biggest non sequitur ever.


        March 3, 2016 at 2:14 pm

  6. Exactly Lion. This is why Roberts’ was the correct decision.

    March 3, 2016 at 10:48 am

  7. Serious question: why didn’t the Dems just phrase Obamacare in such a way that it would hit fewer Republican sore spots – or at least not so blatantly? Give them less opportunity to righteously kvetch, and so forth.

    Sure, there’s probably some rationale about allowing your enemies enough rope to hang themselves, but I dunno. Seems like an awful lot of extra work to me.


    March 3, 2016 at 10:55 am

    • Serious question: why didn’t the Dems just phrase Obamacare in such a way that it would hit fewer Republican sore spots – or at least not so blatantly? Give them less opportunity to righteously kvetch, and so forth.

      Because Obama wanted to win re-election. Add stuff like “free birth-control,” and when the GOP makes a case against Obamacare (see Ed’s comment at 10:31am) you run ads telling 18-35 yr old single women “THE REPUBLICANS ARE TRYING TO FORCE YOU TO GET PREGNANT!!!!!!”


      March 3, 2016 at 5:26 pm

      • “why didn’t the Dems just phrase Obamacare in such a way that it would hit fewer Republican sore spots”

        That’s why the tax was phrased as a “penalty” and not a tax, and why there was no “public option.”

        Lion of the Blogosphere

        March 3, 2016 at 6:12 pm

  8. I agree completely with this statement.

    Obamacare needs to be improved a little bit, but the ability to obtain health insurance on an exchange is a totally fine. If Obamacare doesn’t work economically, then we’ll know because health insurers will start pulling their plans from the exchange.

    Medicaid and Medicare are the health-insurance schemes that will bankrupt the country, especially Medicare. Obamacare is a drop in the bucket.

    I personally think Trump’s points are a good first step, but getting rid of Obamacare would expend a lot of political capital, energy and time. He should focus solely on anti-immigration his first term and use up his political capital on that. Preventing illegals coming to America while also reducing the amount that snuck in will fundamentally change the course of this country.

    I also personally think that Trump is presenting his health-care reform now in order to coalesce the Republican base around him. Once he’s elected, he’ll probably drop a lot of these stupid Republican positions and begin pivoting the party towards economic nationalism and strong borders.


    March 3, 2016 at 10:56 am

    • There’s no reason to expend political capital on immigration. The executive branch already has the authority to institute e-verify, prosecute employers who hire illegals and deport them like crazy. Without even passing any new legislation. There’s already a precedent with Eisenhower. And the court has long ruled the president can pretty much block any visas for national security reasons. So his temporary ban on refugees or any other immigrants is completely legit. Presidents have always had that authority. They didn’t do it because the establishment didn’t want it done.


      March 3, 2016 at 12:48 pm

    • If Obamacare doesn’t work economically, then we’ll know because health insurers will start pulling their plans from the exchange.


      March 3, 2016 at 1:00 pm

      • United Healthcare hasn’t pulled out yet.


        March 3, 2016 at 2:41 pm

  9. EMTALA is the worst law of all time.


    March 3, 2016 at 11:40 am

  10. Trump wrote Obamacare is “certain to collapse of its own weight.” This could be true. UnitedHealth Group warned it is considering pulling out of the Affordable Care Act exchanges because of big losses. Blue Cross of North Carolina announced it lost $285 million on its ACA-insured customers in 2015. “Affordable Care,” like “affordable housing,” are just slightly disguised code words for “taxpayer supported.”

    Mark Caplan

    March 3, 2016 at 11:55 am

  11. Here’s what I don’t understand (truly I don’t understand; not trying to troll): what is the purpose of Obamacare?

    I thought that the issue that Obamacare was supposed to solve was the high cost of medical care. To the best of my knowledge (and I have to admit that I don’t pay just a ton of attention to this particular policy because I find other topics much more interesting), it seems to address insurance premiums.

    Are there provisions that are supposed to lower the cost of actual medical care?


    March 3, 2016 at 12:54 pm

    • Absolutely. If you have a low income, you get healthcare insurance for practically nothing. Or definitely completely free if you are poor enough to qualify for the expanded Medicaid. And you also get healthcare insurance even if you have a pre-existing condition.

      Obamacare did make insurance more expensive for healthy people whose income is above the limit where you get any subsidies and who don’t get insurance from their employer. Although in many cases, especially if you lived in New York State, insurance was practically not available to you at all if you didn’t get it from your job or some other group.

      Pretending everything was all peaches and cream before Obamacare is a lie.

      Lion of the Blogosphere

      March 3, 2016 at 1:28 pm

      • Lion, I think I either wrote my question poorly or you misunderstood it. I understand that the act seeks to make insurance premiums cheaper.

        My question is, “Does it seek to make health care cost less?”

        For example, if my doctor says it costs a total of $500 to talk to me for 5 minutes, does the act seek to find a way for it to cost the doctor only $450 for those 5 minutes?

        I guess my problem is that I’m over here looking at this bill. I see that the doctor charged $500. My insurance company knocked $50 off due to negotiated rates. The company then paid another $350 to the doctor. I get a bill, then, for $100.

        I can understand why the insurance company wants to charge me a boat load of money. Every time I go to the doctor, it costs them $350. That money has to come from somewhere.

        If, however, the doctor didn’t have to spend $500 in the first place, then both the insurance and me would have to spend less money.

        Is that a sensible way of looking at the situation? (Again, I’m completely open to the view that it’s not sensible. My scenario seems logical in my mind, but I don’t know enough about the industry to make any real judgment.)


        March 3, 2016 at 2:31 pm

      • We should have single-payer healthcare like Medicaid for everyone so people don’t have to deal with bullsh** like that.

        Lion of the Blogosphere

        March 3, 2016 at 2:39 pm

      • Lion, you didn’t answer the question onereasonableperson asked which was did Obamacare lower the actual cost of care? No, it has not. Did it lower the cost of insurance? No, it did not. Insurance premiums have increased considerably. For some people that higher cost is shifted to taxpayers, but the cost is still higher. Did Obamacare reduce the ranks of the uninsured? Yes, perhaps about 10 million newly insured, but the vast majority have been covered by expanded Medicaid. The reforms to the private insurance market, including the exchanges, have increased insurance coverage by about 3 million or less than one percent of our population. Was it really necessary to transform the insurance industry to cover 3 million people? Almost certainly not.

        Here are sources for the inevitable doubters:

        “Changes in Health Insurance Enrollment Since 2013,” Rand Corp., April 2014.
        “Obamacare’s Enrollment Increase: Mainly Due to Medicaid Expansion,” Heritage Foundation, October 2014.
        Pauly, et al., “’Sticker Shock’ in Individual Insurance Under Health Reform, National Bureau for Economic Research, June 2014.
        Kowalski, A., “The Early Impact of the Affordable Care Act State-by-State, The Brookings Institution, September 2014.
        Roy, Avik, “3,137-County Analysis: Obamacare Increased 2014 Individual Market Premiums By Average of 49%,” Forbes, June 18, 2014.

        Bitter Clinger

        March 3, 2016 at 2:32 pm

      • Lion, Regarding single payer healthcare, perhaps that is a better solution; I truly don’t know. It seems to me that that solution still doesn’t address the underlying issue – why does it cost the doctor $500 in the first place?


        March 3, 2016 at 2:45 pm

      • Obamacare contained a number of provisions that are suppose to help contain costs.

        First and foremost, Obamacare creates a market place where people can easily compare cost and coverage options between various insurance companies. That is suppose to encourage those insurance companies to compete on price and drive down costs for health care. There is some question of how effectively this free market mechanism will be. Hospitals, doctors and drug companies try their best to prevent insurance companies from reducing cost.

        Obamacare uses Medicare to drive future reductions in healthcare cost. For example it set up standards for patient re-admission and penalize hospitals that have to re-admit a large percentage of patients.

        Obamacare funds research to compare the effectiveness of different treatment options. For example, almost all drug studies are funded by drug companies. Those studies seek to show that the drug they are testing is effective. They hardly ever compare the effectiveness and safety of their drug to other drug options. Under Obamacare the US government will fund that kind of research so doctors can have access to that information.

        The Independent Payment Advisory Board is suppose to help set standards to control costs in healthcare. This is the part of Obamacare that Republicans labeled a “death panel” and have sworn to never approve anyone appointed to the board, because …. well because they want Obamacare to fail.


        March 3, 2016 at 4:49 pm

      • @LotB: We should have single-payer healthcare like Medicaid for everyone

        If it’ll allow me to retire by age 52, then bring it on!

        E. Rekshun

        March 3, 2016 at 6:12 pm

  12. Social Security is blatantly unconstitutional, as far as the written constition goes. But, guess what, people like their Social Security checks a lot more than they like the constitution. Basically, we live in a country with an unwritten constitution, like the UK. Well, the procedural stuff like presidents serving for 4 years, Senators for 6, etc. seem to still apply, but anything that limits the power of the federal government has been a dead letter for decades. Nobody cares.

    Greg Pandatshang

    March 3, 2016 at 1:10 pm

  13. Great points, Lion. When you look at the big picture, you can see how politicians manipulate their supporters with buzzwords. Unfortunately, we’re probably all more susceptible to that kind of manipulation than we want to believe.


    Back when JFK was running for president, one of the supposed worries among certain WASPs was that, as a Catholic, he would take orders from the Vatican.

    Well, after Romney’s bizarre anti-Trump speech today (four years after Romney happily appeared at Trump Tower to announce Trump’s endorsement in the 2012 race), I started to wonder if Romney is taking orders form the cabal in Salt Lake City that runs Mormonism, Inc. Maybe his Mormonism was more of a problem than we realized when we was running for president.


    March 3, 2016 at 1:11 pm

  14. “What’s the difference between a tax break for buying an electric car versus a tax penalty for not buying an electric car?”

    The former is voluntary, the latter isn’t.


    March 3, 2016 at 1:50 pm

    • I never volunteered to pay taxes of any kind!

      However, you can still volunteer to buy health insurance and pay less tax than if you did not volunteer. The semantics of what that’s called is what you are arguing about.

      Buy electric car. Buy health insurance. Pay less tax.

      Don’t do those things. Pay more tax.

      Lion of the Blogosphere

      March 3, 2016 at 2:28 pm

  15. I used to be a TrueCon on healthcare but changed my mind over the years. Look at expanded Medicaid for example. Conservatives are against it with a vengeance. So basically they only want poor single mothers (who never vote Republican) to receive Medicaid benefits. They are willing to let poor, childless men die on the streets. The conservatives are waging a war on men when it comes to healthcare.

    Still I am overall very critical of Obamacare because of the high deductables make it near useless. The idea is OK with me but the product itself stinks.

    Jay Fink

    March 3, 2016 at 2:11 pm

    • Obamacare further legitimizes the idea that healthcare should be connected to employment, which is the worst system imaginable. It’s an awful policy but repealing it without a real plan to replace it and without keeping its positive aspects (Medicaid expansion, protection for pre-existing conditions, etc) is worse.


      March 3, 2016 at 6:20 pm

  16. Lion, we should get back to the Guaranteed Basic Income one of these days. In a sane society (sans 3rd world hordes) this should be the goal. A person has NO FREEDOM if they are FORCED to work to live. Such work is a mockery of freedom. A wage slave IS a slave. The workplace is far more authoritarian than the government could ever be.


    March 3, 2016 at 2:56 pm

    • A federal job guarantee program is more compatible with pre-post-scarcity morality, plus it would allow for the opportunity to get unemployed people to do something useful for their money and could be tied in to different skill training programs. What’s clear is the days of almost everyone being able to support themselves by finding a decent job in the private market are quickly coming to an end, never to return.


      March 3, 2016 at 6:18 pm

  17. There’s a big difference between a tax penalty that takes money someone has earned and a tax break that doesn’t. You claim they’re opposite sides of the same coin. But they’re completely opposite.


    March 3, 2016 at 3:02 pm

  18. Healthcare is easy:
    1.Drop Medicaid threshold back to pre-Obamacare poverty level
    2. Everyone can buy into Medicaid at higher of 1% of their income, or some fee figured out by some nerds.
    3. Medicare can be bought for a higher price since it’s more comprehensive.

    This makes low cost healthcare available to everyone, but TrueCons/Libertarians wouldn’t be able to object because non-poor people have to pay to get the service.


    March 3, 2016 at 5:18 pm

    • Actually, TrueCons screamed at the “public option” that was supposed to be part of Obamacare and got it removed.

      Lion of the Blogosphere

      March 3, 2016 at 6:11 pm

  19. LotB: Any change to the tax code which is worded as a “break” Republicans love,

    I remember a wise blogger once said something similar about tax “loopholes” — Republicans love ’em because they think they pulled a fast one on Democrats.

    E. Rekshun

    March 3, 2016 at 6:18 pm

  20. The fix for Obamacare will wind up being what should have been the fix for the pre-Obamacare mission. Gradually expand who is covered under Medicare and Medicaid, and as you do that actually institute a free market for private health insurance, which won’t have to be as subsidized/ regulated because it will be used to supplement whatever people are getting from Medicare and Medicaid, instead of being the main vehicle for public health. The ACA propped up the already existing health system and served as a vehicle to bail out the health insurers, who are big players in the financial markets.

    “Social Security is blatantly unconstitutional, as far as the written constition goes.”

    This is what I can’t stand about many arguments on conservative blogs. What is unconstitutional about Social Security? No one argued that it was unconstitutional at the time, and this was a time when the Supreme Court was striking down lots of New Deal legislation. As long as you give Congress the power to tax, which was done in 1787 and confirmed in 1913, and the power to spend, they can certainly institute something like social security. This is a national program that crosses state lines, so you can’t even use the states’ rights arguments that were used against spending on internal improvements in the early nineteenth century (and which most people stopped making anyway after the Civil War). Note that this statement is just made as if its self-evident with no supporting facts or logic added at all.


    March 3, 2016 at 6:56 pm

    • They definitely argued that Social Security was unconstitutional. But now that the argument is lost and the Supreme Court follows stare decisis.

      Lion of the Blogosphere

      March 3, 2016 at 7:03 pm

      • Thanks, I didn’t know that. But the argument was that Congress could only levy taxes that were specifically mentioned in Article I, or even which had existed in 1788. That would invalidate most federal legislation made after the New Deal.


        March 4, 2016 at 1:00 am

      • Plus the 16th Amendment.

        Lion of the Blogosphere

        March 4, 2016 at 7:19 am

      • and the Supreme Court follows stare decisis.

        Well, most of the time.

        E. Rekshun

        March 4, 2016 at 5:15 am

      • and the Supreme Court follows stare decisis.

        ^Correction: Some of the members, most of the time.

        E. Rekshun

        March 4, 2016 at 5:17 am

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