Editor’s Note: This column first appeared in the October issue of Townhall Magazine.
Conservatives have experienced a fair share of setbacks over the past 12 months in the ongoing battle to roll back the debacle of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, now euphemistically referred to as Obamacare.
Our first setback was acquiescing to the phrase ‘Obamacare’ taking hold in the popular lexicon. Barack Obama is a good and decent man, and a fair number of Americans actually think positively about him. While we vehemently disagree with the president about the size and role of government, opposing a law with his name on it, regardless of how bad the actual legislation is, turned many people away from our arguments. A rebranding is in order.
The courts have provided mixed results, with the Supreme Court finding the law as a whole constitutional, but lower courts invalidating specific federal subsidies. It would take major legal gymnastics to undo those decisions, but stranger things have happened. Where this particular part of the drama ends is difficult to know at this point, so we shouldn’t put all our eggs in the legal basket. As conservatives, we don’t like to rely on courts to solve our political disagreements unless absolutely necessary.
Which brings us to the individual mandate. Liberals are fond of reminding Republicans that the individual mandate was originally an idea from The Heritage Foundation, or individuals associated with Heritage. This is true, but the original idea of requiring a small bit of shared social responsibility is very different than the Obamacare mandate in its current form,which also requires single men to carry plans that include maternity coverage. The examples of other such unnecessary coverage requirements abound.
And then there’s the elephant in the room: the finances. Democrats are fond of rolling out circumspect data pointing to decreases in health care costs for consumers, but there is as much anecdotal evidence that costs actually increased for a large percentage of the population as well. What is rarely discussed is the cost to the taxpayer as Medicaid roles surge and subsidies spread the cost of care across the taxpaying base. Ultimately our children’s children will end up paying for all this spending in the form of higher debt payments than any sane person could have imagined possible only a few short years ago. It would be easy to sit back on our hands and let the financial weight of the law put the country in imminent danger. Our job as conservatives is to avoid this easy path. We must fight to save our country now.
Our job moving forward is patience and the countenance of a happy warrior. The immediate hurdle is to recapture the Senate so Republicans control both chambers of Congress. The obvious follow-up is electing a Senate leadership team that is committed to working hand in hand with congressional Republicans to pass defund and repeal legislation.
Make no mistake, the president will veto these laws. That is fine. We shouldn’t be afraid to shut the government down if need be to get some common sense concessions from the president in his final years in office. Our focus should be on 2016, and demonstrating in no uncertain terms that the Republican Party is the party of health care reform based on free market principles and individual liberty.
Hillary Clinton, or whomever the Democrats nominate, will run from Obamacare. The Democrats will promise reform, attempt to paint our Republican nominee as heartless, and emphasize how popular parts of the law are with the general public. We must make it known far and wide that this is only their first step and that their ultimate goal is the disaster of a single payer system that will ultimately bankrupt the country.
We will remind Americans there is a better choice, a freedom loving choice. This is an uphill battle; winning back the Senate in November and the White House two years from now is a daunting task, and just the first step in really reforming our health care system for the long term health of the nation. •
Bryan Pruitt is a Washington, D.C.-based director at RedState. He can be reached at [email protected]