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This site is the inspiration of a former reporter/photographer for one of New England's largest daily newspapers and for various magazines. The intent is to direct readers to interesting political articles, and we urge you to visit the source sites. Any comments may be noted on site or directed to KarisChaf at gmail.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

'Shut Up' Is No Argument -- The illiberal left lacks confidence in its ideas -- By James Taranto, The Wall Street Journal

"The debate over repealing this law is over," President Obama declared last Tuesday in reference to ObamaCare. April Fool! By the end of the week some of Obama's most loyal media supporters were proving him wrong--by repeating his arguments.

"Is there any accountability in American politics for being completely wrong?" demanded the Washington Post's E.J. Dionne in his Thursday column. "Is there any cost to those who say things that turn out not to be true and then, when their fabrications or false predictions are exposed, calmly move on to concocting new claims as if they had never made the old ones?"

It won't surprise you to learn that Dionne did not demand accountability from Obama and the other politicians who sold ObamaCare on the fraudulent promise "if you like your plan, you can keep your plan." Rather, he asserted that the administration's claim of having "hit its original goal . . . of signing up more than 7 million people through its insurance exchanges" was a definitive refutation of any notion that ObamaCare is "doomed."

What about insurance cancellations, narrow networks, high deductibles, blown deadlines, work disincentives, adverse selection and the law's continuing political unpopularity? Dionne dispenses with all these problems in one sentence: "To be sure, the law could still face other problems, blah, blah, blah."

The next day it was former Enron adviser Paul Krugman's turn. He too asserted that "7.1 million and counting signups is a huge victory for reform." And not just a huge victory but a definitive one: "The nightmare is over. It has long been clear, to anyone willing to study the issue, that the overall structure of Obamacare made sense given the political constraints. Now we know that the technical details can be managed, too. This thing is going to work. And, yes, it's also a big political victory for Democrats."

"My advice to reform supporters," Krugman continued, "is, go ahead and celebrate. Oh, and feel free to ridicule right-wingers who confidently predicted doom."

What's this all about? It seems to us the main political salience of Obama's mission-accomplished speech is to constrain Democratic officeholders who have substantive or political doubts about ObamaCare. He made clear that support for ObamaCare remains a test of loyalty for Democrats; those who deviate will be punished by the party's leadership and its political base. Even the Senate's most vulnerable incumbent fell into line, as The Weekly Standard's Michael Warren notes:
Arkansas senator Mark Pryor, a Democrat up for reelection this year, told local [Little Rock] station KARK-TV he would have still voted for Obamacare despite all the law's problems.
"A lot of our premiums have really shot up, those of us who have had to pay these premiums," said the KARK host. "Knowing now what you know now, would you have voted for this back then?"
"You know, I would have," Pryor responded. "Of course, I would want to see some changes back then, but I think on something like this, it's big, it's complicated, it's difficult. If you get 80 percent of this right, you've really done something. We probably did get 80 percent of it right."

Pryor's assertion that "I would want to see some changes back then" is belied by his own voting record. In March 2010 Pryor was one of only three Democrats to vote against the reconciliation bill that made such changes to the original Senate bill, passed in December 2009 on a 60-40 party-line vote. (The other two were Nebraska's Ben Nelson, who did not seek re-election in 2012, and fellow Arkansan Blanche Lincoln, who was trounced in her 2010 re-election bid.)

So the Democrats are stuck with ObamaCare. But as long as we have a two-party system, the debate will go on. What's striking is that the quality of the pro-ObamaCare arguments is so abysmally poor. "Blah, blah, blah." "Feel free to ridicule right-wingers." "This thing is going to work."

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