Health Care: A Uniquely Partisan New Entitlement

If Obamacare passes — and as the endgame plays out today, that feels like the way to bet — it will pass without a single Republican vote in either house of Congress.  Historic legislation indeed:

Regardless of the political fallout, historians say health-care reform will take its place in the same category as the enactment of Social Security in 1935 and Medicare in 1965…

But there is a major difference between this health-care battle and the debates that preceded passage of Social Security and Medicare. Although there was opposition to those measures — conservative opponents called Medicare socialized medicine — in the end they passed with overwhelming, bipartisan majorities.

The House approved the Medicare bill on a vote of 313 to 115, including 65 Republicans — nearly half the GOP caucus at the time. The Senate approved the measure by 68 to 21, including 13 of the 27 Republicans.

Social Security passed the House in 1935 by 372 to 77. On that vote, 77 Republicans joined the majority and 18 Republicans opposed it. In the Senate, the vote was 77 to 6, with five of 19 Republicans in opposition.

In one important way, however, Obamacare will be like Medicare:  Financially unsustainable. Businessweek:

The Democrats’ model of a successful government health-care program, Medicare, is going broke. Medicare’s Hospital Insurance Trust Fund is already insolvent on a cash-flow basis and will be exhausted within the next eight years, according to the Social Security and Medicare Boards of Trustees’ 2009 Annual Report.

And that’s before the baby boomers start to retire.

If ObamaCare passes, the outlook isn’t that much different. While the Senate bill has some good features, including the creation of health insurance exchanges where individuals and small businesses can buy coverage, it fails to tackle the basic problem: the lack of incentives. Consumers are divorced from the cost of care. Is there anything else we buy — from big-ticket items like cars and appliances to necessities like food and clothing to discretionary items like sports tickets and air fares — where we don’t comparison price shop or weigh our infinite wants against our more limited resources?

With their fingers in their ears and their voices chorusing “la-la-la-la-la,” the Democrats are on the verge of passing a health care bill opposed by a majority of Americans.  They’ll pay for it in November, of course, but the damage will be done.  Republicans will bravely talk about repeal, but entitlement programs will end only when the government runs out of other people’s money.

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One thought on “Health Care: A Uniquely Partisan New Entitlement

  1. The only bi-partisanship in this whole process is in the opposition to it. I am so angry right now I can hardly put two words together.

    We are on the cusp of another revolution in this country. History always repeats itself.

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