The following is an excerpt from OpinionJournal.com’s “Best of the Web” written by the editor, James Taranto.
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“When Robots Take Our Jobs, Humans Will Be the New 1%. Here’s How to Fight Back”–headline, Guardian website (London), March 22
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“You never get a second chance to make a first impression,” observes the Washington Post’s E.J. Dionne: “But at the end of this month, the new health care law will get a third chance to make a decent impression–finally.”
Well, hope springs eternal. But Dionne at least acknowledges this much:
The first two opportunities to make the case were blown. During the battle to pass the law, its opponents did a far better job of tarring it than its sponsors did of extolling it. Last fall, the crash of the HealthCare.gov website made a hash of its debut.
He doesn’t mention insurance cancellations, narrow networks, high deductibles, blown deadlines, work disincentives, adverse selection–the list could go on. Instead it’s back to the happy talk:
The ACA is worthy of defense on its merits because it begins solving problems that Americans have always wanted solved. These include outlawing discrimination against those with pre-existing conditions and doing away with the fears of those could never afford coverage or temporarily lost it during hard times.
But a larger principle is at stake, too. In an article last week about Americans for Prosperity, the group backed by Charles and David Koch, New York Times writers Carl Hulse and Ashley Parker made the essential point. The Koch effort, Hulse and Parker wrote, is “not confined to hammering away” at the ACA. “They are also trying to present the law as a case study in government ineptitude to change the way voters think about the role of government for years to come.”
Whether ObamaCare “is worthy of defense on its merits” surely depends not on its aim of “solving problems” but on the extent to which it is effective at solving them without creating new problems.
But the idea of defending it in the name of the “larger principle” of activist government is especially dubious. When liberals want to make that case, they usually point to Social Security, which–although there are grounds to criticize it–has the virtues of being reasonably simple, well established and broadly understood as beneficial.
In making the case for the larger principle of limited government, AFP points to ObamaCare because it is the mirror image of Social Security. Although there may be grounds to praise it, it has the shortcomings of being maddeningly complicated, untested and broadly understood as unfair and harmful.
By urging a defense of ObamaCare in the name of a “larger principle,” Dionne is accepting AFP’s contention that the law is typical of big government. Or maybe he’s just following another “Animal House” quote: “I think that this situation absolutely requires a really futile and stupid gesture be done on somebody’s part! We’re just the guys to do it.”
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