Mona Charen

Obamacare was designed by people who believe passionately that private companies must be strictly controlled and regulated by Washington bureaucrats, who will run things far more humanely and even more efficiently. Mr. Obama cited the bogus statistic that Medicare has "lower administrative costs" than the private sector. This is specious. Medicare's administrative costs are spread over several different agencies. The IRS collects the taxes that fund the program, the Social Security Administration collects some of the premiums paid by beneficiaries, and the Department of Health and Human Services handles accounting, auditing, fraud and other issues.

Additionally, Medicare's population is older and sicker than the typical insurance pool. Their medical costs are accordingly higher, so as a percentage of total spending on the patient, Medicare's per patient administrative costs will be smaller. But that isn't because Medicare is more efficient.

This is not to say that insurance companies are virtuous. They are simply businesses, doing what makes sense for their customers and shareholders. It would never occur to Barack Obama that the best way to go after insurance companies whose behavior you dislike is to provide competitors. No, his plan, now just beginning to sting, is to create 159 new bureaus and agencies, and 11,327 pages of new regulations (so far).

Any first-year economics student could have predicted what happened last week in response to one feature of the law. Obamacare requires that companies with 50 or more full-time employees provide health insurance or pay a fine. A restaurant chain that includes Olive Garden and Red Lobster (not one of the 1200 well-connected companies and unions who've received waivers) announced that it will be placing more of its 180,000 employees on part-time status -- thereby diminishing the salaries of thousands of people.

The Obama Administration will perhaps regard this utterly predictable response (and this is just the beginning) as "jerking people around," and may, if reelected, issue regulations making it illegal to change an employee's status from full-time to part-time. That's how statists operate. Try firing someone in France -- which is why jobs are so scarce in France.

And so it will go, with the federal government chasing after private industry with more and more restrictions and penalties -- never seeing that they are circling the drain.

Mona Charen

Mona Charen is a syndicated columnist, political analyst and author of Do-Gooders: How Liberals Hurt Those They Claim to Help .
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