Op-ed: Obamacare and other Unhealthy acts

  • By Cal Thomas
  • Tuesday, June 27, 2017 10:44am
  • Opinion

Is there anyone who can point to the “Affordable Care Act” (aka Obamacare) and credibly claim it is accomplishing the goals set for it seven years ago?

Insurers are pulling out of the exchanges, premiums and related costs are going up, not down, as supporters of the misnamed law claimed they would. Many people who like their doctors are not being allowed to keep their doctors.

In a Facebook post last week, Obama himself didn’t even bother to defend Obamacare. Instead, he criticized a proposed replacement, calling the Senate bill written by Republicans “a massive transfer of wealth from middle-class and poor families to the richest people in America.”

Leaving aside whether the poor, and much of the middle class, have any wealth to transfer, much less to meet their own needs, who would know more about a massive transfer of wealth than Obama, whose own health care law is attempting to do just that?

In a statement following the release of a summary of the Senate Republican bill, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said: “In the coming days, we expect to receive a budget estimate on our plan. After that, we will proceed with a robust debate and an open amendment process on the Senate floor. I hope every senator engages. Senate Democrats may not have wanted to work with us in a serious way to address Obamacare’s failures before, but I hope they will take this opportunity to do what’s right for the American people now.”

Good luck with that. In our politically polarized atmosphere, even a “Good morning” from a member of the opposition party might provoke a “says who?” response.

In business and in virtually every other area of life, when something doesn’t work, most people would suggest trying another path. Not in Washington where failure is just another opportunity to spend more money. Here, it’s all about intentions, feelings and appealing to “the base,” not accomplishments. If your intention in supporting Obamacare was to fix what is wrong with health care that is all that matters, not whether your fix worked.

One senator is trying to solve a related problem that could serve as a model for his colleagues when it comes to a new health care bill. Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY), who chairs the Budget Committee, wants to end duplicative government programs, along with unauthorized spending on programs whose legislative authority has expired. Enzi estimates duplicative government programs are costing taxpayers $310 billion and counting.

According to figures supplied to me by Enzi’s office, there are hundreds of laws that duplicate each other. Comptroller General Gene Dodaro told a Senate panel in April that a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report found 645 ideas in 249 areas that would reduce or eliminate overlapping and duplicative programs. So far, Dodaro testified, “…51 percent have been implemented, 31 percent partially implemented and 18 percent not implemented.” More needs to be done.

The biggest challenge may be reducing unauthorized spending. Enzi says some spending is on “auto-pay” with some programs not having been re-authorized in 30 years. No wonder Ronald Reagan once quipped: “No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we’ll ever see on this earth!”

Taxpayers are paying for 158 Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) programs, and nearly 700 energy initiatives, according to GAO. Sen. Enzi wants to restore the historical link between authorizations and appropriations.

The real scandal in Washington has nothing to do with Russia. It is overspending, overtaxing and overreaching government. All of these programs, along with health care and unauthorized spending, can be fixed. All it takes is willpower and goodwill, two characteristics that are sorely lacking in Washington. While attention is focused on restructuring health insurance, Sen. Enzi is trying to highlight another problem that could save billions. His colleagues should listen and act.

Readers may email Cal Thomas at tcaeditors@tribpub.com.

More in Opinion

t
Opinion: Freedom in the classroom sets precedence for the future

We advocate for the adoption of legislation to protect students’ First Amendment rights…

A roll of “I Voted” stickers await voters on Election Day in Alaska. Voters overwhelmingly rejected the prospect of a state constitutional convention. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: Election winners, losers and poor losers

Tshibaka and Palin misread Alaskans by thinking Trump’s endorsement all but guaranteed they’d win.

This 1981 photo provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows an electron micrograph of Respiratory Syncytial Virus, also known as RSV. Children’s hospitals in parts of the country are seeing a distressing surge in RSV, a common respiratory illness that can cause severe breathing problems for babies. Cases fell dramatically two years ago as the pandemic shut down schools, day cares and businesses. Then, with restrictions easing, the summer of 2021 brought an alarming increase in what is normally a fall and winter virus. (CDC via AP)
Alaska Voices: What Alaskans need to know about RSV

By learning more about respiratory illnesses and taking helpful actions, we can all take steps to improve the situation

Homer Foundation
Point of View: Multiplying the power of every local dollar given

Each community foundation is a public charity that focuses on supporting a geographic area by pooling donations to meet community needs

The Homer Public Library as seen on Aug. 18, 2021, in Homer, Alaska. (File photo by Sarah Knapp/Homer News)
Point of View: Banning books corrodes diversity and inclusion in our community

Recently, a community member requested that a long list of books be removed from the children’s collection

Peninsula Oilers fans display encouragin signs for Oilers’ pitcher Bryan Woo, Friday, June 28, 2019, at Coral Seymour Memorial Park in Kenai. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)
Gavel (Courtesy photo)
Opinion: Judging judges — balancing the judicial selection process

Alaska’s method of selecting judges can be and should be improved.

Sarah Palin speaks at a July 11 Save America Rally featuring former President Donald Trump at Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: The realities of Palin’s political demise

Palin wouldn’t be running for the seat if Rep. Don Young was still alive

Former Democratic state Rep. Beth Kerttula holds up a sign reading “Vote No Con Con,” during a recent rally at the Dimond Courthouse Plaza in Juneau. Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: What can a liberal and conservative agree on? Voting against a constitutional convention

“We disagree on many issues. But we… urge Alaskans to vote against Proposition 1.”

A “Vote Here” sign is seen at the City of Kenai building on Monday, Sept. 21, 2020, in Kenai, Alaska. (Clarion file)
Down to the wire: Be prepared before you vote

Remember your voice counts and all votes matter

Soldotna City Council member Justin Ruffridge. (Courtesy photo)
Voices of the Peninsula: We must refuse to reward ugly political tactics

With our vote we have to show that extremism and dishonesty do not win the day