The first hustler runs the big con

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary - By Pa­trick J. Buchanan

“Noth­ing is lost save honor.” o said Jim Fisk af­ter he and Jay Gould sur­vived yet another scrape in their cor­rupt and sto­ried ca­reers in the Gilded Age Fisk’s dis­missal of honor came to mind while watch­ing Barack Obama in Bos­ton smugly ex­plain how his vow — “If you like your health care plan, you can keep it!” — was now in­op­er­a­tive.

All along, it had been a bait-andswitch by the first hustler.

In Bos­ton, Mr. Obama could no longer evade the truth. Hun­dreds of thou­sands of Amer­i­cans who had pur­chased health insurance in the pri­vate mar­ket were get­ting notices their plans were be­ing can­celed.

That this rev­e­la­tion had blown a hole in his cred­i­bil­ity did not seem to trou­ble Mr. Obama. In­deed, the pres­i­dent ap­peared im­pa­tient with the com­plaints. Th­ese were “sub­stan­dard” plans any­how, he said, the lousy of­fer­ings of “bad-ap­ple in­sur­ers.”

“So if you’re get­ting one of those let­ters (can­cel­ing your insurance plan), just shop around in the new mar­ket­place. … You’re go­ing to get a bet­ter deal.”

Be­hind the ar­ro­gance is the realty: Mr. Obama has the veto power. No al­ter­ation of Oba­macare, ex­cept for changes he ap­proves, can be made be­fore the

Swin­ter of 2017. And by then, Oba­macare will be so deeply em­bed­ded in law and prac­tice it will be be­yond re­peal. We won, you lost, was writ­ten across Obama’s face. Yet, Mr. Obama’s vic­tory calls to mind that of King Pyrrhus of Epirus over the Ro­mans at As­cu­lum as de­scribed by Plutarch. Count­ing up his dead friends, dead com­man­ders and dead sol­diers, the king re­marked, “One more such vic­tory and we are un­done.”

The price Mr. Obama will be a long time pay­ing for this vic­tory is his­toric and huge.

First, there is the ir­re­versible dam­age to his cred­i­bil­ity and in­tegrity. He conned the peo­ple into be­liev­ing some­thing he knew to be false — that all Amer­i­cans would be al­lowed to keep the health care plans that they had and liked.

This as­sur­ance, re­peated again and again, helped dis­arm the op­po­si­tion. Amer­i­cans who liked their doc­tors and insurance plans and were re­peat­edly told they could keep both were not only relieved; they be­came more re­cep­tive to the idea of help­ing the less for­tu­nate.

Mr. Obama’s as­sur­ances of keep­ing your insurance plan if you like it now en­ters pres­i­den­tial his­tory along­side Ge­orge H.W. Bush’s “Read my lips! No new taxes,” Bill Clin­ton’s “I did not have sex­ual re­la­tions with that woman, Miss Lewin­sky,” and Ge­orge W. Bush’s tales of yel­low cake in Niger and hid­den ar­se­nals of WMDs.

As for the ide­al­is­tic avatar of hope and change from 2008, who led the na­tion to be­lieve that he was some­thing new and dif­fer­ent in pol­i­tics, he has been re­vealed as the big­gest cynic of them all.

More­over, where his cam­paign against Hil­lary Clin­ton in the pri­maries and John McCain in 2008 seemed to hold out prom­ise of a newly com­pe­tent pro­gres­sive crowd, those hopes have all but van­ished in the leg­endary in­com­pe­tence of the Oba­macare roll­out.

Here was the pres­i­dent’s sig­na­ture pro­gram — what So­cial Se­cu­rity was to FDR, Medi­care to LBJ — and one month into launch, it is grist for the mills of Satur­day Night Live and Com­edy Cen­tral.

Ob­serv­ing the roll­out, one be­gins to ap­pre­ci­ate what Ge­orge Wal­lace meant when he talked of Wash­ing­ton be­ing a city of “pointy-headed bu­reau­crats who can’t park a bi­cy­cle straight.”

And though the Oba­macare web­site will one day be re­paired, and peo­ple may be­gin to sign up, the land mines in Oba­macare are by no means all ex­ploded. We will be walk­ing right through them.

As Oba­macare re­quires the can­cel­la­tion of insurance plans and forces Amer­i­cans to buy more ex­pen­sive insurance than they want, this will in­evitably raise the cost of health care for the na­tion.

And when the em­ployer man­dates cut in, many busi­nesses will halt hir­ing at 49 em­ploy­ees to keep out of Oba­macare, as oth­ers cut part-time work­ers to 29 hours a week to es­cape the man­dates.

This can­not but ad­versely im­pact an econ­omy whose growth in job cre­ation un­der Mr. Obama has been ane­mic at best for five years.

Mr. Obama and co­horts are cel­e­brat­ing an his­toric achieve­ment in pass­ing Oba­macare. But as one looks at Greece, Italy, Spain, France, Puerto Rico, Detroit and Illi­nois, the truth seems ob­vi­ous.

The wel­fare state that be­gan with Bis­marck is reach­ing the end of the line, just as the pri­vate sec­tor that gen­er­ates the wealth to sus­tain that state is now, al­most ev­ery­where, buck­ling un­der its weight. The deficits stretch to the hori­zon. The debts rise in­ex­orably.

Across the West, neo-so­cial­ism is out, the new aus­ter­ity in.

And of all the great ad­vances pro­claimed by pro­gres­sives over a cen­tury and a half, from free school­ing to So­cial Se­cu­rity, Oba­macare looks like it will even­tu­ally be ranked among the last -and the least.

Pa­trick J. Buchanan is the au­thor of “Sui­cide of a Su­per­power: Will Amer­ica Sur­vive to 2025?”

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