If you watched the State of the Union address last Tuesday evening, you probably had an experience that can be compared to eating a nice, big bowl of lettuce leaves for dinner. It sounds good at the time, and you may have even enjoyed the meal, only to lay in bed starving a few hours later wondering how you got to this point. Finally, over the roaring grumbles in your stomach, you realize one very important detail. You didn’t actually eat anything. Perhaps this sensation was no more poignant than after the President’s discussion of the new healthcare roll out.
Using his signature smooth rhetoric, the President (obviously) stuck to the positives. He cited statistics like the three million people who got coverage under their parents’ plan, or the nine million under “private” insurance or Medicaid. He put a personal touch to these numbers by telling the story of Amanda Shelley, who had a pre-existing condition, got insured, had to have emergency surgery soon thereafter, and was spared high costs. However, he conveniently failed to mention the 700,000 people in Florida and California who lost their coverage, or the circus show surrounding online registration, or the story of Emilie Lamb who suffers from lupus. Her premiums jumped $300 due to Obamacare, and she now works two jobs just to afford medication. Like Amanda, Emilie was also in attendance for the President’s address.
What do these statistical and personal contradictions mean? On the surface, they do nothing more than prolong the political merry-go-round of Washington in-fighting and stretch the already gaping chasm between parties. However, the larger picture shows that regardless of the issue, government interference always results in the picking of winners and losers. Just as in the case of most federal subsidies and “incentives,” government involvement in these areas puts the power in the hands of the removed few, rather than the people who are directly affected. The problem then expands from merely the shortcomings of a liberal health care agenda to a larger issue of government hubris, perhaps the only issue that is truly bipartisan.
So if you found yourself laying in bed unsatisfied by the political lettuce cloaked in your favorite dressing of choice on Tuesday, the reason is that there was nothing to consume. It’s time for the next course.