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Never Surrender

Sep 30, 2013, Vol. 19, No. 04 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
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Some of the biggest beneficiaries of Obamacare will be those with preexisting health conditions who have been denied insurance coverage. They will be able to purchase insurance at the same price as healthy Americans because of an Obamacare regulation that, incidentally, would still be on the books even if the law were defunded. But all this means is that any repeal of Obamacare must be tied to a plan to help people with preexisting conditions.

And here is the deeper problem with Cruz’s argument. The notion that people receiving subsidies will become “addicted” to Obamacare rests on the moocher theory of American politics, a simplistic and inaccurate idea that there are conservative “makers” who pay taxes and vote Republican and liberal “takers” who are dependent on government and vote Democratic. Like Mitt Romney’s statement about “the 47 percent,” Cruz’s remarks implicitly assume that conservatives have nothing to offer beneficiaries of government programs.

If Obamacare is as bad as Cruz and other conservatives say—if it’s going to pick the pockets of the young, ration care for the elderly, tax employers, slash wages and benefits of employees, assault religious liberty, subsidize elective abortions with taxpayer money, and bust the budget—shouldn’t Republicans be able to rally the American people behind something better? Shouldn’t Republicans in Congress be able to unite behind a set of conservative reforms that helps Americans with preexisting conditions through subsidized high-risk pools while freeing up the market and fixing the tax code to lower costs?

Top Democrats are far less confident than Senator Cruz about Obamacare’s future. “What we’ve done with Obamacare is have a step in the right direction, but we’re far from having something that’s going to work forever,” Senate majority leader Harry Reid said at a town hall event in August.

So the big question isn’t really whether Obamacare will eventually fail, but what comes after it fails. When Obamacare starts to unravel, will the American people trust the Democrats who designed it to fix it by giving the government more power and more control? Or will Obamacare’s failure provide an opportunity to repeal it and replace it with a conservative free-market reform?

Republicans will have a good shot at passing real reform—so long as they avoid blundering into a government shutdown that will not stop Obamacare but will only lend credence to false Democratic claims that the problem with Obamacare isn’t the law itself but rather GOP obstruction and sabotage.

Republicans should fight this fall for whatever they can realistically achieve (a matter about which there is reasonable disagreement). But conservatives shouldn’t be panicked into thinking that a government shutdown or debt default this fall is their last, best shot at overturning the law. On January 1, Americans won’t become addicted to Obamacare so much as they will be afflicted by it.

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