This weekend brought the astonishing news out of California that health insurance prices are increasing as a result of the Affordable Care Act.
I can imagine what a shock this must be to supporters of the president's law, often referred to as Obamacare. Who could have predicted that forcing insurers to provide coverage for people who are already sick would lead to rate hikes across the board? Or that requiring insurance plans to offer more services than customers have asked for would cause the cost of those plans to go up? Or that the burden of paying for these changes would be disproportionately borne by young, healthy, middle-class Americans?
Of course, many opponents of the ACA did predict these things. Still, it must be disconcerting for supporters to discover their adversaries weren't just inventing reasons to oppose the law. It seems to have become canon that hatred for the president is the only possible explanation for how anyone could be against the ACA. It apparently never occurred to them that opponents might genuinely believe Obamacare would lead to perverse outcomes, or—heavens to Murgatroyd – that their beliefs could be grounded in reality.
Obama's fans can be forgiven if it's all a bit too much. The president has spent the better part of the last five years swearing up and down that his signature policy will make things better, not worse, for regular Americans. He promised that the average family would save thousands of dollars on premiums, that people who like the insurance they have would be able to keep it, that the law would somehow reduce the deficit despite calling for billions of dollars in new spending on subsidies…
And a lot of people took him at his word. Perhaps we shouldn't fault them for it. His claims may have been a little far-fetched, but hey, father knows best. It would be nice, though, if in the future, he refrained from suggesting the rest of us are acting in bad faith when we warn of a policy's potential for negative unintended consequences. Every once in a while, we're liable to be right.
- Read Peter Roff: Teaching Constitutional and Historical Literacy to America's Youth
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