Published for The Wall Street Journal, June 3rd, 2010:
Voters will understand plenty about the hidden costs of the law by November.
White House Senior Adviser David Axelrod argued earlier this year that health-care reform would become more popular after it passed, boosting Democrats in the midterm elections. “We have to go out and sell it,” he told the National Journal, adding in an interview in Newsweek that “people [will] see the benefits that accrue to them.”
That’s not quite how it has worked out. ObamaCare is becoming more, not less, unpopular. The Rasmussen poll reported the week after health reform’s passage in March that 55% of likely voters supported its repeal while 42% did not. A Rasmussen poll last month showed that 56% backed repeal; 39% did not.
Some may argue that President Obama has been able to extol the legislation’s supposed virtues only sporadically, instead having to confront other challenges from the Gulf oil spill to foreign policy controversies. But the real problem is ObamaCare’s substantive defects, some only now coming to light. Consider the April 22 analysis by Medicare’s chief actuary, Richard Foster, which blasted to smithereens many of Mr. Obama’s claims for the bill.
For starters, Mr. Foster estimated Americans would pay $120 billion in fines for not having adequate insurance coverage and that 14 million people would lose their coverage as rising costs led companies to dump it. Those effects are not in keeping with Mr. Obama’s promises that if people liked the health insurance they had they could keep it, and that the reforms would provide universal coverage.