Post-launch, however, these conservative “lies” are looking more and more like wisdom, historical literacy, and political foresight. The sheer number of canceled plans may have shocked “some on the Left,” but it certainly didn’t shock the law’s opponents — many of whom had been predicting it for years. Likewise, while the sheer audacity of the president’s unilateral changes have surprised nearly everyone, the fact that the law has dangerously conferred upon the executive branch an almost unlimited power to shape the regulations and the insurance market as it sees fit has not. This, as was observed ad nauseam during the debate, is not so much a law as it is an enabling act.
It has not simply been that time has vindicated many of the conservative complaints. On the contrary: The Left has started to admit that much of what Obamacare’s critics said was true all along — even going so far as to unashamedly incorporate the grievances into their apologies. Earlier in the year, Jonathan Chait, Jonathan Cohn, and Ezra Klein — the administration’s golden trio — all of a sudden switched tactics and came clean
. As reports of increased premiums started to flood in from across the country, the group tutted impatiently, rolled its eyes, and, with a how-stupid-are-you
tone, explained that obviously
one couldn’t cover a whole host of new people without some
premiums’ being raised. In other words, once Obamacare’s launch was imminent, the Left admitted that conservatives’ key critique — which the president and Nancy Pelosi had promised over and over and over again was but a lie — had been correct all along.
So habitually has the administration insisted that the troubles with Obamacare are the fault of wreckers and traitors that it has occasionally lost touch with reality. As Mediaite’s Noah Rothman noted, on the last day of last year a White House health-care adviser named Phil Schiliro took to MSNBC to claim that that the CBO enrollment projections that the White House and HHS secretary Kathleen Sebelius had been touting as a target all year had nothing to do with the administration. George Orwell’s name is rather overused in modern political journalism, but this really was a deception worthy of IngSoc, and its shifting, mutating truths the sign of deep dysfunction. Over and over, Sebelius had made it abundantly clear that the government wanted 3 million sign-ups by January, and 7 million by the end of March. But when the government only got 2 by the New Year, it simply pretended that the target had never existed. Have we always been at war with Eastasia?
Nonsense on both sides has been rife from the outset. That’s politics. And around the edges, some conservatives did indeed scream bloody murder — weakening their case with frivolous allegations and careless language. But where it really mattered, the Right’s barbs hit their target. Whether Obamacare was a stalking horse for something much worse, and whether it will succeed in metastasizing into a nightmare for liberty, remains to be seen. Still, at this early stage, one thing seems certain: By the time we find out what happens in Chapter 2, an awful lot more of the “lies” that were told about the law will — as quietly as possible, without an apology in sight, and only when it is safe for them to do so — have somehow, magically come true.
— Charles C. W. Cooke is a staff writer at National Review.