Today President Obama's health care overhaul is one year old. And how are people celebrating? By concluding the infant law hasn't done much yet. Even many of the Affordable Care Act's provisions don't take effect until 2014 (the Kaiser Foundation has a handy tool to see what goes in effect when), many Republicans are declaring health care reform a failure. This past-tense pronouncement, however, largely relies on the future tense predictions of last year's tumultous debate. Here are some examples:
- It Will Be Too Expensive. In Politico, Sen. John Thune--a former contender for 2012--calls the law "a failed experiment" and "failed program," but is largely looking to the future, predicting that premiums will go up, that "many families will very likely have to pay higher deductibles and co-payments," "billions of dollars more will most likely be spent to prop up the law’s new health care entitlement program," and "51 percent of U.S. businesses will have to change health insurance plans in the next two years."
- It Will Create Too Much Bureaucracy. The Chamber of Commerce's Bruce Josten, also writing in Politico, argues the law "impractical and unworkable," and has "serious flaws" that have a "chilling effect" on the economy. But Josten's evidence is that "the law grants extraordinary powers to the Department of Health and Human Services to redefine health care as we know it." And it will create "159 new agencies, commissions, panels and other bodies" to regulate the industry. And it could kill 800,000 jobs over the next ten years.
- It Will Curb States Rights. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney--whose state health care overhaul provided a template for Obamacare and thus threatens his chances for winning the Republican nomination in 2012--wrote at the National Review that he'd kill Obamacare on his first day in office if elected president. Why? Because a national system could limit states' ability to experiment with health care solutions.
- It Will Explode the Debt. In Human Events, Newt Gingrich urges Republicans in Congress to vow not to raise the debt celing unless the law is repealed in the same vote. (Not raising the debt ceiling would be a big problem.) "At this one year anniversary, it is clear that ObamaCare does not age well with the American people. And it’s about to get a whole lot worse." Gingrich also sees fewer jobs and higher premiums--on the horizon. "[W]hen fully implemented, ObamaCare will cost $2.6 trillion at a time when we are facing a $14 trillion debt."
- It Would Have Killed My Daughter. Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson writes in The Wall Street Journal that Obamacare is "the greatest single assault on our freedom in my lifetime." His proof? He delves into the conditional perfect progressive tense: Writing about his daughter born with a heart defect, he asks "Would the life-saving procedures that saved her have been deemed cost-effective by policy makers deciding where to spend increasingly scarce tax dollars?"
Of course, the law's supporters have their own hypotheticals about the potential gains promised by implementing the rest of the legislation. And Dave Weigel notes that a recent CNN poll shows that health care reform still has the same support it did last year. But the debate, sadly, remains overheated as ever. Former Rep. Bart Stupak, the pro-life Democrat whose vote was critical in passage, tells The Hill's Jason Millman that he's afraid for his life. "The vitriol surrounding the [health care] debate was so palpable that Stupak said he was not surprised when he heard, in January of this year, that a lawmaker had been shot," Millman writes. But Stupak was surprised it was a relatively uncontroversial politician like Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. Stupak thought he'd be the one targeted--a father and son are currently facing charges for threatening him. still. “It still could be [me]... Who knows?”