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Emanuel vs. Capretta on Obamacare



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I am probably not the best judge of the Fox News Sunday debate this weekend between Jim Capretta and Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, a former Obama-administration adviser. But to my eye, Dr. Emanuel made the government intervention’s case very poorly, and Capretta did an excellent job. (Watch for yourself.)

I may be wrong, but I can’t imagine that the administration’s current line of defense — that the president’s “if you like your plan, you can keep it” line only referred to grandfathering the plans that were in place when the law was adopted – will appeal to many Americans. The president did go around the country for months arguing that “if you like your plan, you will be able to keep it, period.”

One missing aspect: The debate didn’t touch on doubts about whether the Obama administration knows what’s good for us better than we do or whether, if it does know better, it is entitled to impose it on us.

One final point, Ezra Klein writes the following this morning:

The political difficulty of this period, however, is being magnified for the Obama administration because Obamacare’s Web site remains such a mess. The White House expected that these cancellations would come at a time when millions of Americans were signing up for low-cost health insurance that they couldn’t afford or weren’t being allowed to buy before. For every loser, there would be many winners. But the losers are learning they lost at a time when the winners still don’t know that they won. So rather than the media having some stories of “rate shock” and some of “rate joy,” it’s all rate shock.

In other words, the administration assumed that the broken promise would have been fast forgiven when the great news delivered by the website outshone the bad news. For one, I think that there is a lot of wishful thinking going on here. As the Manhattan Institute’s Avik Roy’s new calculation shows:

One of the fundamental flaws of the Affordable Care Act is that, despite its name, it makes health insurance more expensive. Today, the Manhattan Institute released the most comprehensive analysis yet conducted of premiums under Obamacare for people who shop for coverage on their own. Here’s what we learned. In the average state, Obamacare will increase underlying premiums by 41 percent. As we have long expected, the steepest hikes will be imposed on the healthy, the young, and the male. And Obamacare’s taxpayer-funded subsidies will primarily benefit those nearing retirement—people who, unlike the young, have had their whole lives to save for their health-care needs.

Even a fully functioning website might not have eased the pain for that many Americans. Second, Klein’s point is a pretty blatant admission that this law was going to produce losers — something the president denied when he was selling the law — but it also begs the following question: If the rollout of the exchanges was so important, why didn’t the administration make sure that it would be successful, instead of the total disaster that it was (and still is)? Maybe they couldn’t, because, as I suggested here, government’s decisions are mostly driven by politics and special-interest needs, which aren’t conducive to good policies or, in this case, a smooth rollout of Obamacare.



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