Victor Davis Hanson

Washington has a bad habit of naming laws by what they are not.

These euphemisms usually win temporary public support. After all, who wants to be against anything "affordable"? But on examination, such idealistically named legislation usually turns out to be aimed at special interests and the opposite of what voters were promised.

The "Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010," otherwise known as Obamacare, frontloaded for immediate enactment some popular freebies. Who would oppose keeping children on their parents' health coverage until age 26, or prohibiting denial of insurance for those with pre-existing illnesses?

Then, three years later and with two elections out of the way, the tab for all the perks suddenly came due. The law turns out neither to protect patients from pay hikes nor to make health care affordable. In fact, the administration promises of 2009-10 are becoming the nightmare of 2013.

Health insurance premiums are skyrocketing. Taxes to pay for the bill increased. So far, the Obamacare sign-up website has made going to the DMV seem like a picnic. Businesses are not made more competitive as promised, but cutting back on their full-time employees. The deficit will not go down due to Obamacare.

Doctors do not welcome the radical changes; many may retire to avoid them. Healthy young adults are not rushing to buy Obamacare plans -- at least not once they learn that they will pay a lot for something they use rarely to pay for others who pay little for something they will use constantly.

All individuals must buy a plan or pay a penalty, while businesses have already been given a one-year reprieve from skyrocketing expenses of the coverage. Congressional and administration staffers who wrote the law, insider businesses that supported it and pet unions that donated for it now all want to be excused from it.

At a time when the national debt has just hit $17 trillion and Medicare and Social Security are facing impending insolvency, another gargantuan redistributive entitlement does not seem a good way to revive the economy or streamline the nation's health care.

Obamacare does, however, grow government. It increases the federal workforce. And clerks in Washington will judge which Americans have too much health care and which have too little -- and then even everything out.


Victor Davis Hanson

Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and a recipient of the 2007 National Humanities Medal.