Thursday, September 23, 2010

Why Won't The Stupid Voters Listen When We Tell Them What They Want?

Apparently mystified by persistent public opposition to his health care law, President Obama is blaming himself, not for signing a bill that started out unpopular and grew more so throughout the process of its passage, but for failing to sell it well enough. Obama continues to argue that the reason people don't like the law is because they aren't aware of all the benefits it will bring them. But as Reason's Peter Suderman points out, there's a simpler and empirically better supported explanation - that the public is aware of the law's benefits, which contrary to what the President thinks the Democrats have talked up to no end, but is also aware of its costs, which the Democrats have rather assiduously avoided discussing, and does not consider the former worth the price of the latter.

I haven't been polled, but I certainly fall into this category. I'm all for ensuring that people with pre-existing conditions can receive subsidized medical treatment for them if they can't afford it themselves, making health care plans more portable between places of employment, and the like. What I'm not for? The massive, cost-spiraling distortion in the health insurance market that forcing insurance companies to issue policies on which they are guaranteed to lose money will create. The higher taxes that will raise the price of new treatments and stunt medical innovation. The almost certain budget busting costs. The giant middle finger to personal freedom and constitutional rights that is the individual mandate. The unsavory backroom dealing that went into drafting the law. And most of all, the vast array of statistical gimmicks, euphemisms, blandishments, and outright lies via which the Democrats have tried to obscure all of this. I don't know how representative I am, but I know why I don't like the law, even though as a young person with a checkered travel history I stand to benefit from it in some ways, and it's not because I don't know what it's in. I'm not sure which is more offensive, the Democrats' arrogance in ramming this law through against the popular will, or their condescension in assuming that people oppose it because they're too stupid to know what's good for them.

It's widely expected that the Democrats will get hammered in the upcoming midterm elections, and very likely lose their governing majority in at least one house of Congress. I suspect that much of that is a result of the fact that the economy continues to sputter. But if health care does prove to be a salient issue in this campaign and hurts the Democrats as it almost certainly will if that's the case, they deserve it. Whatever the merits, or lack therof, of the particular laws they pass, parties that overinterpret their mandate and/or take the electorate for a pliable mass of idiots need to suffer for it.

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