Ken Connor

"Obamacare isn't a political abstraction any longer. Its success doesn't depend on spin or solidarity. What matters for the law -- and for the people who are depending on it -- is how well it actually works. So far, it's not working well at all."

So concludes Washington Post columnist Ezra Klein (no Obama antagonist) in a piece outlining the substantive and broad-ranging problems with Obamacare – problems that extend beyond website "glitches." In four simple sentences, Klein strikes at the heart of the political fallacy encapsulated by the President's signature legislative achievement: When you allow ideology to drive the development of policy with no attention to reality or practicality, the results are catastrophic. For the President and his supporters, Obamacare was conceived not as a policy solution for America's growing healthcare challenges but as a symbol of the President's progressive worldview. If the pre-Obamacare health care system represented the disenfranchisement of the poor, sick, and elderly at the hands of unscrupulous insurance companies, miserly employers, and complicit physicians, then the post-Obamacare health care system would be one in which all of these inequities were eliminated. College graduates entering the workforce would no longer have to fret about whether or not their first job offered affordable and comprehensive coverage – they could simply stay on their parent's plan. Desperate families struggling to secure coverage despite preexisting medical conditions would now have equal access to quality coverage. The very poor would have expanded access to Medicaid. In every scenario and for every demographic (with the exception, of course, of those fortunate one-percenters), health insurance would be easier to get, more affordable, and more comprehensive.

Of course, the question of how exactly the federal government would accomplish the Herculean task of overhauling approximately 1/6 of the U.S. economy was never fully addressed in all the months of debate that led up to the controversial passage of the Affordable Care Act. Again and again, the legislation was defended and promoted not based on its merits as policy, but based purely on its value as a ideological symbol of Progressivism in action. In response to naysaying Republicans and their incessant focus on the constitutional implications of the law and the challenges of deciphering its labyrinthine volumes, Nancy Pelosi replied:

Ken Connor

Ken Connor is Chairman of the Center for a Just Society in Washington, DC.