Put your money where your mouth is

About a year ago, after Sen. Brown won election in Massachusetts, and it seemed like health care reform would die, I began to despair at the glee I saw in many who opposed the bill. I wrote a post entitled, “This is not a game“:

This isn’t a game; it never was. Like it or not, the problems in the United States health care system are real. I have cared for children who have — literally — died because of bad insurance or no insurance. I have personally known people who have lost everything because of a medical tragedy. And I swear to you, these illnesses involve children who were not lazy or shiftless or deserving of these problems in any way.

I’m not declaring that you have to support health care reform as it’s currently being proposed. I’m also not saying that if you oppose reform then you are somehow to blame for misfortune or death.

But I have to tell you, the glee I’m seeing at its potential failure is unsettling.

This isn’t a game. Real people’s health and lives are at stake. The long term fiscal stability of the United States is on the line. We may not choose to reform the health care system this week, but it must be done.

If you oppose this reform, and I know many people who do, then you have to come up with another plan. Not only that, but you have to come up with a realistic way of getting that plan accomplished. I don’t know nearly as many people who meet those criteria.

I’m watching election returns in Massachusetts and reading bloggers who are simply giddy about what’s going on. Unfortunately, most seem to be excited not for what a Scott Brown victory means in terms of a policy agenda, but for what it means for potentially stopping an opposing agenda.

I’m watching people partying about the potential death of health care reform.

I’ve always been prepared for this bill to fail. There have been many times I’ve not been thrilled with it. And I would continue to stoke my opposition if I saw anyone else proposing a viable alternative. They’re not.

But I’ve not prepared myself for the absolute delight some people seem to be taking in killing this bill.

It’s a year later, and I have to tell you, the despair I’m feeling is pretty similar. Your glee is not endearing.

I get that many of you don’t like the PPACA. As I’ve said over and over, it’s not my ideal way to reform the health care system, either. But I accepted it because it was clear to me that I wasn’t going to get anything better. I watched the Democrats sacrifice a single-payer system in order to placate the Republicans. Then went the public option. The exchanges were whittled down. And implementation was pushed back to 2014 to meet an arbitrary number of $1 trillion over a decade (as if that had some meaning).

I can accept that. As I also said last year, wishing won’t make it 60.

What I want now is the same as what I wanted then – a better health care system. I don’t sense a lot of that coming from many of you. You want the PPACA gone. You want those who passed it to lose. You want to win.

I say this because I see many of you so absolutely crazed by the individual mandate. It’s as if this is akin to “taxation without representation”. You believe this is the first step on the slippery slope to fascism.

Fine.

If that’s the case, where is the simple proposal to lose the mandate? I know you’d have no trouble getting every Republican behind that bill. I bet you’d even get a fair number of Democrats. Heck, Senator Obama was opposed to it. So if you really, really hate the mandate so much, go ahead and lose it. I no longer care.

As I’ve said before, the mandate is there to protect the private insurance industry. It’s so people don’t game the system and then buy insurance only when they need it. If people do that, there’s adverse selection, and rates go up. You see it in New York, which has a lot of regulation, but no mandate. You’ll piss off the insurance companies, and possibly endanger their long term survival, but go ahead.  If the mandate so offends you, so be it.

But I’ve seen no one propose that.  Why not?  I suspect it’s because you’re really not as offended by the mandate, as you are by the PPACA.  If that’s the case, then yes – I call you a hypocrite. You’re begging for judicial activism. You’re asking the courts to do what you cannot do through Congress. And even then, losing the PPACA would likely need reconciliation and a new President, and many of you called that evil last year, too. You’re recognizing that you can’t get what you want through the usual legislative pathway, and looking for a shortcut to achieve your goals without a majority.

And you’re going about it in a pretty cynical manner. You’re using words like “tyranny” and “fascism” and “liberty” for political means. It’s rhetoric, and personally I think it’s harmful.

But prove me wrong. If the mandate so offends you, call on your representatives to support a bill to remove it right now. It’s not like there aren’t other means to achieve the same incentives. Here’s one.

So there’s the challenge. Support a fix to the mandate right now. If you won’t, then you obviously aren’t that concerned about “liberty”. You’re willing to risk the mandate standing if the courts don’t go your way.

Unless… your real goal is a return to the status quo before reform, and your “anger” at the mandate is really a tool to achieve that. If that’s the case, don’t expect me to engage you much. It’s hard to negotiate with people who won’t be honest.

UPDATE: Comments on this post have been closed.

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