Critical Condition

Medicare in Defense of Liberty

Among the many reasons that Obamacare is in such dire political trouble is the opposition of Medicare beneficiaries, who recognize even if only instinctively that once the federal government has a seat at the medical-decision table formerly hosting only patients and doctors, the inescapable conflicts among limited resources, interest-group pressures, and the expanding health-care needs of seniors will yield rationing predicated on any number of criteria to be decided by panels of government bureaucrats. Yes, death panels: Sarah Palin is absolutely correct about that. 

What is fascinating is this: In the long run (not necessarily a long period of time), Medicare probably is the largest existing threat to limited government in the U.S. But in the immediate term, Obamacare represents that threat, and the comparison between the two is not even close. Leviathan has not patients but instead interest groups, and the current opposition to Obamacare by seniors is a classic manifestation of that reality. And so for now Medicare is serving as a bulwark against something far worse, and thus in defense of liberty. Who’d a thunk it?

Benjamin Zycher is a senior fellow at the Pacific Research Institute.

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