Former President Barack Obama made headlines last Friday when he broke from longstanding tradition to re-enter the partisan fray, offering direct and harsh criticisms of his successor in a public address. Over the course of his lecture, he also blasted the Republican Party writ large: "Over the past few decades, the politics of division, of resentment and paranoia has unfortunately found a home in the Republican Party," he intoned. Out of curiosity, to what would Obama ascribe this 2006 polling, showing that a majority of Democrats believed President Bush had advanced knowledge of the 9/11 terrorist attacks? Or much more recent polls showing that most Democratic voters believe the baseless conspiracy theory that the Russian government changed actual votes in the 2016 US election?
It would seem that division, resentment and paranoia have all found a home in the Democratic Party, too. But tendentious partisanship masquerading as thoughtful, above-the-fray truth telling is vintage Obama. I suspect his reappearance (did he ever really go away?) will motivate certain voters both for and against Democrats at the margins, but won't have too much of an impact overall. Republicans will be reminded of how tiresome he can be, and hyper-motivated Democrats will...applaud vigorously and fortify their motivation. In any case, on the policy front, this shift from Obama was inevitable, but is still noteworthy:
Obama endorses Medicare for all. pic.twitter.com/QCwgLj6425— Dan Diamond (@ddiamond) September 7, 2018
In a well-publicized speech this afternoon, the former Commander in Chief praised the bright ideas of his party's progressive wing. "Democrats aren't just running on good old ideas like a higher minimum wage, they're running on good new ideas like Medicare-for-all," Obama said in his remarks, while also endorsing proposals like giving workers seats on corporate boards and reversing tax cuts.
This idea is neither "new" nor good. But it is entirely predictable coming from Barack Obama. When conservatives warned that Obamacare was a scheme designed to push the country closer to fully government-run healthcare, that was dismissed as fear-mongering -- or perhaps even as the promulgation of, say, division, paranoia and resentment. In spite of some powerful evidence, including Obama's own stated views on single-payer, these concerns were downplayed and written off by many in the press. But Obamacare is failing (something else we also anticipated), and was objectively failing long before the "Republican sabotage" narrative was even remotely plausible. The law shattered multiple central promises on which it was dishonestly sold to the public, not the least of which was the "Affordable" piece of the so-called "Affordable Care Act." Many on the Left are pointing to these shortcomings as supposed proof that more government intervention is needed to further reshape the system in a "fair" way that guarantees that healthcare as a "human right."
Obama now recognizes this leftward lurch as the wave of the future, and has effectively abandoned his own sputtering, fatally-flawed law in favor of a more complete state takeover of the healthcare sector. Never mind that there's absolutely no way to pay for it without sweeping, bruising tax increases on middle income and working class. Never mind that it would out government bureaucrats in charge of medical decisions, including rationing. Never mind that our existing, massive government healthcare programs are failing, rife with abuse, and/or going insolvent. Never mind that a dramatic shift to single payer would uproot more than 150 million Americans from their current healthcare arrangements. These are all mere details to those who put blind faith in the government, some of whom would like to see the entrenched federal bureaucracy wield more control over people's lives. The Democratic Party's increasingly-dominant left flank is happy to ignore glaring state-level failures and rejections, impose this utopic scheme, then figure out the nettlesome details later. In some cases, that last bit isn't even an exaggeration:
Cynthia Nixon on single-payer health care in New York: “Pass it and then figure out how to fund it.”https://t.co/ovkAbreV29— Josh Greenman (@joshgreenman) September 5, 2018
That appears to be the attitude of California's next governor, as well. To paraphrase Nike's new marketing ploy: "Implement something, even if it means bankrupting everything. Just do it." I'll leave you with this: Despite the GOP's disastrous standing in the state, might Golden State voters be having second thoughts about ongoing left-wing governance, even as Resistance fever runs high? Oh, and here's just one more inconvenient, buzzkill reminder about the overwhelmingly daunting math:
Obama endorsing Medicare-For-All obligates me to point out that NO M4A proposal has ever been produced that adds less than $14T in first-decade debt - and the Sanders bill adds $30T.— Brian Riedl (@Brian_Riedl) September 7, 2018
All this push for a "fiscally-responsible M4A proposal" that does not even exist.