Henninger: The President That Time Forgot
ObamaCare was a legislative monolith, out of sync with an iPad world.
The signs this was so were everywhere, but Barack Obama and the Pelosi-Reid edition of the Democratic Party blew past them. Years before it arrived at the Supreme Court's door, the Obama health-care law was unpopular with the American public. With occasional exceptions, its unfavorables have been above 50% for nearly three years. And why not? It runs counter to the daily experience of virtually everyone.
Electronics, foods, fashion, entertainment, apps, social media, appliances—pretty much anything that escapes the cold hands of a public agency is laid before us in a dazzling, unprecedented array of choices. Despite all the incoming, people learned to navigate the options. Virtually everyone has become adept at customizing a personal milieu that suits them. Given a reasonably growing economy, they'll be able to sustain these choices.
In this context, the Affordable Care Act gave new meaning to the word "outlier." Starting with the insurance mandate. Of course most people hated it. They're living in a world turning more anti-mandate by the minute, and the Democrats are ordering them all into a national health-insurance pool.
Back in 2010, some Democrats talked like it was 1937 all over again. They intoned how for 70 years they've wanted to enact a big national health-care law. The Depression—those were the glory days. Or they said ObamaCare's coverage-for-all would close the policy loop left open 45 years ago with Medicare for the elderly and Medicaid for the poor. So naturally one pillar of the Obama health-care law was to push more people into Medicaid's already faceless, frightening maw.
This is a Democratic Party whose political survival now is yoked to monolithic public-employee unions that themselves haven't allowed a new idea in 40 years. The teachers unions persist in an irrational, immoral refusal to try other ways of teaching inner-city kids.
Public-employee unions in California are letting towns and cities—the latest is Stockton—slide over the fiscal cliff. Since JFK, the Democrats have departed once from a political one-size-must-fit-all, and that was the Clinton welfare reform, which freed impoverished women to enter the private economy inhabited by everyone else. That was it. The Republicans, to their discredit, don't have an alternative to ObamaCare, but at least they're not still building more Titanics.