(5) Promise nothing but pleasure -- for now. Make health insurance universal and permanently protected. Tear up the existing bills and write a clean one -- Obamacare 2.0 -- promulgating draconian health-insurance regulation that prohibits (a) denying coverage for pre-existing conditions, (b) dropping coverage if the client gets sick, and (c) capping insurance company reimbursement.
What's not to like? If you have insurance, you'll never lose it. Nor will your children ever be denied coverage for pre-existing conditions.
The regulated insurance companies will get two things in return. Government will impose an individual mandate that will force the purchase of health insurance on the millions of healthy young people who today forgo it. And government will subsidize all the others who are too poor to buy health insurance. The result? Two enormous new revenue streams created by government for the insurance companies.
And here's what makes it so politically seductive: The end result is the liberal dream of universal and guaranteed coverage -- but without overt nationalization. It is all done through private insurance companies. Ostensibly private. They will, in reality, have been turned into government utilities. No longer able to control whom they can enroll, whom they can drop and how much they can limit their own liability, they will live off government largesse -- subsidized premiums from the poor; forced premiums from the young and healthy.
It's the perfect finesse -- government health care by proxy. And because it's proxy, and because it will guarantee access to (supposedly) private health insurance -- something that enjoys considerable Republican support -- it will pass with wide bipartisan backing and give Obama a resounding political victory.
Isn't there a catch? Of course, there is. This scheme is the ultimate bait-and-switch. The pleasure comes now, the pain later. Government-subsidized universal and virtually unlimited coverage will vastly compound already out-of-control government spending on health care. The financial and budgetary consequences will be catastrophic.
However, they will not appear immediately. And when they do, the only solution will be rationing. That's when the liberals will give the FCCCER regulatory power and give you end-of-life counseling.
But by then, resistance will be feeble. Why? Because at that point the only remaining option will be to give up the benefits we will have become accustomed to. Once granted, guaranteed universal health care is not relinquished. Look at Canada. Look at Britain. They got hooked; now they ration. So will we.
Charles Krauthammer is a 1987 Pulitzer Prize winner, 1984 National Magazine Award winner, and a columnist for The Washington Post since 1985.
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