During remarks to fellow members of the Democratic Party at the National Press Club earlier this week, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) chided them for forcing Obamacare through Congress in 2010. According to Sarah Mimms of the National Journal:
While Schumer emphasized during a speech at the National Press Club that he supports the law and that its policies "are and will continue to be positive changes," he argued that the Democrats acted wrongly in using their new mandate after the 2008 election to focus on the issue rather than the economy at the height of a terrible recession.
"After passing the stimulus, Democrats should have continued to propose middle-class-oriented programs and built on the partial success of the stimulus, but unfortunately Democrats blew the opportunity the American people gave them," Schumer said. "We took their mandate and put all of our focus on the wrong problem—health care reform."
Sen. Schumer noted that only 5 percent of American voters actually lacked healthcare insurance in 2010, so putting all their party’s eggs in the Obamacare basket “made no political sense." The poor economy is what mattered most to the middle class, and that’s where the focus should have been. As Miimms continues:
The health care law should have come later, Schumer argued…Had Democrats pushed economic legislation, he said, "the middle class would have been more receptive to the idea that President Obama wanted to help them" and, in turn, they would have been more receptive to the health care law.
Schumer said he told fellow Democrats in the lead-up to the passage of the Affordable Care Act that it was the wrong time to pass the law.
Yet Obamacare’s core problem is far deeper than bad timing, a slipshod rollout, or lackluster enrollments. The real problem with Obamacare is that government does not know best.
Centralized planning—whether it’s the economy, education, or healthcare—doesn’t work. The result is an ossified, unresponsive monopoly that invariably results in poor quality programs, rationing, and eking out mediocre (at best) services at the highest possible cost because of the increased bureaucracy.
So it turns out Schumer is right to regret passing Obamacare, but his reasoning is all wrong—and shows that he and his colleagues who believe government is the solution to every social ill still don’t get it.
Free people and free markets is the superior policy approach because freedom encourages innovation, meeting ever-changing and individualized demand together with built-in competition and incentives to provide high quality programs and services at the best possible prices.