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EDITORIAL

The good and bad of one-year delay for Obamacare

Friday, November 1, 2013 - 12:01 am

The biggest danger of all is that the program might actually work.

Indiana U.S. Sen. Dan Coats is again urging a one-year delay in the individual mandate for Obamacare (see guest column elsewhere on the page). He’s right that individuals deserve the same relief the Obama administration gave to businesses; simple fairness alone is a sufficient reason for the delay. But we have to realize that such a delay carries great risk.

There’s a saying among techie geeks that “if you computerize a mess, all you get is a faster mess.” What needs to be said here is that “if you put off a mess, all you get is a delayed mess.” Obamacare is one big mess of government intrusion that will make far many more American lives miserable than lives it makes better. The biggest danger is that Obamacare will actually work, and delaying its implementation might help make it work.

Coats is also right that delaying Obamacare until after the 2014 midterm election “would allow American voters to decide the health care law’s fate now that the impact of the law is being felt.” But would they have the best, most accurate information with which to make that decision? A delay would mute – even temporarily halt – the real-world effects of the law. Wouldn’t it give voters more information if they could see the implications of Obamacare played out day after day?

And it’s not as if the voters haven’t already had a chance to dump Obamacare. A majority of Americans have always opposed the deceptively named Affordable Care Act, and they had a chance to dump in when they voted in last November. But a majority of them chose to re-elect Barack Obama and keep Democrats in control of the Senate. Had they voted a different way, Obamacare would be gone or on the way out.

Coats is also right about one other thing: Republicans in the House can keep taking vote after vote to gut or repeal Obamacare, but they just don’t have the votes in the Senate. There might be enough votes for a delay, however, as vulnerable red-state Democrats hear from their disgruntled constituents.

The longer Obamacare is in effect, the harder it will be to get rid of. That has been true of every government program ever conceived, and the laws of politics have not been suspended. That means the best chance to stop it – and, most likely, the last chance – will be in November 2014. Voters can put enough Republicans in the Senate to not only repeal Obamacare but to override Obama’s certain veto, and keep a GOP majority in the House.

That means it’s all up to us, as it always has been.. Kind of messy, this representative democracy stuff.