Obamacare: Both Cynical Power Play and Sincere Struggle for Progressive Virtue

Obamacare is without doubt a power play – a political move designed to appropriate one-sixth of the U.S. economy into the government. As the medical sector is socialized, Washington’s politicians and bureaucrats gain significant wealth and power.

But government doesn’t create wealth; it only consumes it. So as the public sector grows, the private sector suffers; Washington and the state capitals thrive while the rest of the country withers. Payroll taxes will have to increase, perhaps double, to the level of comparable European systems in order to finance the single-payer, Medicare-for-all system which seems to be our destination. As doctors leave the system and bureaucratic costs rise, medical treatment will become more expensive, less available and lower in quality. Family budgets will incur hundreds of dollars more per month in health insurance and payroll taxes, and potentially thousands of dollars more per year in deductibles. The result? A substantial percentage of disposable family income will no longer be spent in the private sector. Budgets, whether a family’s or a nation’s, are not infinitely capable of absorbing hits like this. At some point they break. At some point the already fragile economy collapses.

So, given all the negatives, why is the socialization of America’s medical industry a priority for progressives? Is it just a cynical power play on the part of the Washington elite? To see it only this way is to miss a lot. Remember (see my last blog post), progressives tend to believe that utopia is possible. Many of them believe that Obamacare will eventually bring inexpensive (in some cases, free) health care to everyone. That this utopian ideal is unreachable doesn’t matter; that possibility is rarely even entertained. Universal health care is progressively virtuous. The struggle for progressive virtue is, to progressives, the important thing. Merely striving for progressive virtue in itself makes progressives feel virtuous.

This devout sense of progressive virtue is predominant outside of the elite. But don’t be so cynical that you can’t recognize this idealism, mixed with the duplicity that is necessary to pursue their unpopular aims, among the progressive elite too.

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