Momma Was Right

Your mother was right when she told you that there was no such thing as a free lunch, but the progressives continue to peddle the lie that people can have something for nothing. 

Barack Obama promised Americans universal health insurance in his 2008 campaign for the presidency, and promptly conspired with Nancy Pelosi as the House Speaker and Harry Reid as the Senate Majority Leader to ram the Affordable Care Act through Congress on flimsy procedural maneuvers without one Republican vote in either chamber and over the objections of a majority of Americans who strenuously voiced their objections to this massively complex new entitlement. The progressives controlling both chambers of Congress immediately seized upon the opportunity to enact the long held progressive dream of universal health insurance presented to them by their new progressive president to hastily throw together legislation that was so poorly thought out that at one point they were passing blank pages to be filled in later so as not to miss the window of this golden opportunity. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi famously declared in a press interview “But we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what’s in it…” in a stunning epitome of progressive arrogance and overreach.

President Obama immediately set out on a campaign to sell the Affordable Care Act to Americans despite the fact that he had already signed the legislation into law. This was a noteworthy event in that a president usually rallies Americans around his position on a controversial issue so they can urge a reluctant Congress to support his position. In the case of the Affordable Care Act, the president and his progressive congressional leaders rammed through an unpopular bill, and then he set out to convince Americans why they should like what he and his fellow progressives were thrusting upon us. Obama repeatedly proclaimed the lie that Americans could keep their existing health insurance plans if they liked them to assuage fears that the Affordable Care Act would force insurers to cancel existing policies that did not meet the minimum standards for health insurance policies as proscribed by the act. Obama also repeatedly proclaimed the lie that health insurance rates would not skyrocket once the act kicked in late in 2013.

Conservatives were consistent in their opposition to the Affordable Care Act which they derisively labeled ObamaCare and which Obama proudly picked up as the name of his signature legislative achievement to further stroke his narcissistic ego. They warned that ObamaCare was a massively complex new entitlement that relied upon young people being forced to acquire heath insurance policies they did not necessarily want with gold-plated provisions they did not necessarily need like maternity care, mental health care, and abortion services. Conservatives also warned that the cost of these new gold-plated health insurance policies would dramatically rise above the cost of current insurance policies with which Americans were already happy. They pointed out that this was nothing more than a massive wealth redistribution scheme whereby young, healthy Americans were being forced to subsidize the costs of insurance for older, less healthy Americans and those without insurance along with those who were uninsurable due to preexisting conditions. Conservatives explained there were sensible reforms that could be enacted to address concerns like preexisting conditions without having to wreck the entire private insurance market with ObamaCare.

President Obama rebutted each of these concerns with lies that none of these were true until the day arrived when the much touted ObamaCare website went live on October 1, 2013 after years of design and coding, and after hundreds of millions of dollars spent on its creation. It promptly crashed in spectacular fashion, along with the lies of the progressive movement unable to translate its grandiose Utopian schemes into reality. President Obama headed for the golf course as the ObamaCare website imploded and became a laughingstock. Americans began receiving notices that their existing health insurance plans were being cancelled immediately because they failed to meet the minimum standards required by ObamaCare. President Obama immediately began peddling the lie that he never told Americans they could keep their existing plans as insurance companies began cancelling policies that did not meet ObamaCare’s minimum standards in a massive wave just as conservatives predicted. He then shifted to the flimsy excuse that he meant policies which had not changed since ObamaCare took effect would not be cancelled, but this was a lie because ObamaCare required every health insurance plan to change its pricing in the new insurance environment and Obama knew full well this was the case. Obama’s lies have continued to multiply as his signature legislation implodes, his progressive Democrat congressional base deserts him in the face of election season next year, and the hopes of the progressive movement recede with the increase of awareness by Americans whose opposition to the progressive agenda grows with their familiarity.

ObamaCare is just the latest example of progressive promises of a free lunch. FDR enacted the free lunch promise of Social Security to ostensibly guarantee a public pension to those seniors who never earned one working for a company. It too relied upon the young workers to fund the pensions of the old retirees in a wealth redistribution scheme that began a lot less burdensome than ObamaCare is turning out to be. Social Security took only a few dollars from each paycheck while ObamaCare substantially raises the cost of health insurance to the point where many are discovering it to be completely unaffordable despite the name of the law which gifted Americans with it. Social Security now takes a substantially larger bite from each paycheck, so ObamaCare just bypassed the ramp up period to be unaffordable from the start.

LBJ enacted Medicare to augment Social Security and provide seniors with health insurance, and Medicaid to insure those who had no health insurance as part of his Great Society legislative push. At the time, medical costs were trivial compared to today, and it seemed like a fairly inexpensive entitlement for Democrats to purchase political support. Few had the foresight to realize that government entry into the health insurance market would cause medical prices to explode over the intervening decades to the point where catastrophic healthcare is completely unaffordable without health insurance. Medicare and Medicaid have both famously blown through their projected costs as healthcare costs have continued to rise dramatically. Once the government became the guarantor of payment for healthcare, the healthcare industry responded with massive research and innovation which have led to remarkable new medical device advances and life-saving procedures, along with new pharmaceuticals that prolong life while reducing the need for invasive surgeries. All of these advances cost money and have driven up the cost of healthcare as a whole to fund these innovations.

These redistributionist schemes have become failures as the private market has innovated to the point of leaving them far behind. Social Security pays out a pittance that no one could live on despite progressive promises over the years. Private companies long ago moved away from the complex defined benefit model of pensions to the much easier 401(k) model of defined contributions. By some estimates, Social Security is underfunded to the tune of some $200 trillion as politicians have spent every dime of Social Security revenues collected from workers while continuing to run the country’s debt up to $17 trillion while defined contribution plans are funded by the individual and incur no unfunded liability. Medicare insurance requires seniors to purchase supplemental policies to pay the portion of healthcare costs it does not cover because seniors are the ones who are most in need of the catastrophic care that is so expensive. The private insurance market has responded to this need by offering a wide range of supplemental insurance plans from which seniors can choose to augment their one-size-fits-all government Medicare plan. Medicaid was designed to provide insurance to the poor for catastrophic coverage and to promote the preventive care that allowed management of catastrophic conditions, but the poor have come to rely upon it as a last resort as they deluge emergency rooms seeking care for conditions they can no longer ignore and forsaking the preventive care it was designed to encourage.

These arrangements have become failures, but Americans have become conditioned by the progressives to depend upon these programs and to defend them with the progressive lies they’ve been fed over the decades. We’re told that they are necessary and that Americans couldn’t live without them despite the fact that Americans lived quite well without them before they became law. The private markets have designed much better products that are much more affordable and much better administrated, yet progressives continue to peddle the lie that only government can do these things when the reality is that government can only do these things badly. Promises of a free lunch are just that – promises. No matter how badly Americans want these promises of something for nothing to be true, they will never be more than lies and promises. And now, ObamaCare joins this list as yet another progressive redistribution failure that is fortunately failing spectacularly from the onset. Its spectacular failure provides hope that it can be repealed before becoming entrenched and haunting us for decades as it slowly drags down our economy.

The great failure of communism is the promise of something for nothing. Once workers figure out that they get a free ride from the state whether they work or not, their self-interest kicks in and they refuse to work either by shirking or just outright doing nothing. Then, food stops being produced and store shelves sit empty as workers figure out there is no incentive in a system which rewards all equally regardless of effort. Goods aren’t produced, consumers aren’t satisfied, and totalitarian dictators increase state control over their citizens in an effort to improve productivity that is doomed to failure.

Momma was right all along when she told you there’s no such thing as a free lunch. Someone always pays for that lunch. In the case of progressive redistributionist schemes such as Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and ObamaCare, that someone is us!

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