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Friday, October 4, 2013

Gail Collins, "Frankenstein Goes to Congress": Is Obamacare a Zero-Sum Game?

Expect more partisan drivel from Gail Collins in her latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Frankenstein Goes to Congress" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/05/opinion/collins-frankenstein-goes-to-congress.html?_r=0), in which she again goes to bat for President Obama, with whom she and other Times editorial and op-ed staff held a recent "off-the-record" meeting (see:(http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/18/new-york-times-obama-syria_n_3949419.html?utm_hp_ref=media). Concerning the shutdown and Republican efforts to defund Obamacare, Collins begins and ends:

"Our question for today is: Why don’t the Republicans just throw in the towel? Really, this is not going well for anybody.

. . . .

They’ve created a monster. And now the rest of the country is turning into peasants with torches, storming their castle."

The "peasants" are storming the castle? Hmm, let's think about this.

A few ground rules:

  • I support universal health care.
  • I am worried by America's national debt, which is now just a tad under $17 trillion.
  • I don't like Republicans or Democrats.

Okay, now let's talk.

The computer glitches involving Obamacare enrollment? Insatiable demand which caused the system to buckle, or, faulty software that was not properly tested? Amost certainly the latter - the website has been taken down over the weekend for repairs (http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-201_162-57606175/obamacare-website-goes-down-for-repairs/) - but surely the software ultimately can be patched.

Software, however, is not my concern. Rather, as even Paul Krugman asked yesterday (see: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.co.il/2013/10/paul-krugman-reform-turns-real-welcome.html):

"What we still don’t know, and is crucial for the program’s longer-term success, is who will sign up. Will there be enough young, healthy enrollees to provide a favorable risk pool and keep premiums relatively low?"

Or stated otherwise: Are there enough healthy youngsters willing to pay more in order to subsidize the unfavorable risk pool, thereby preventing a fiscal disaster, i.e. Democratic Senator Max Baucus's "train wreck"?

Or taken a step further, can payments from healthy youngsters ensure that Obamacare is fiscally neutral, i.e. a zero-sum game that does not contribute to further expansion of America's national debt, which is already unsustainable?

As recently observed by Kathleen Parker, in a recent Washington Post opinion piece entitled "Waiting for Obamacare" (http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/kathleen-parker-waiting-for-obamacare/2013/09/20/1eae4f96-2232-11e3-966c-9c4293c47ebe_story.html?hpid=z2):

"[T]he Affordable Care Act (ACA) is becoming increasingly unpopular. Only 39 percent of Americans currently favor the health-care program, compared with 51 percent in January, according to a recent CNN/ORC International poll."

Could it be that Collins's "peasants" are not so stupid after all, and cognizant of America's debt problems, they have no intention of "storming the castle"?

Could it also be that these "peasants" are smart enough to realize that the likelihood of Obamacare becoming a zero-sum game is almost non-existent, and that the program, which requires more thought as evidenced by its troublesome inauguration, is indeed apt to become Max Baucus's "train wreck"?

Who was it who once said, "You can fool some of the peasants all of the time, and all of the peasants some of the time, but you can not fool all of the peasants all of the time"?

Sorry, Gail, they're not "peasants," they're people, and they're much smarter than you think.


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