Jonathan Chait Scooped Me...Now I Get to Scoop Him :) (UPDATED)
Last night, Jonathan Chait of New York Magazine posted a great story entitled "Republicans Finally Admit Why they Really Hate Obamacare".
For the most part, it lays out the major anti-ACA talking points (No One is Signing Up; the Policies are Too Expensive; But How Many Were Previously Uninsured?, There Won't Be Enough Competition, etc.), followed by the reality which has sliced through each of them, one by one like Toad's "List of Things to Do Today". To be perfectly honest, I was a bit surprised that he didn't bother including the chestnuts which have been disproven in the most spectacular fashion: The "But How Many Have PAID???" and "OMG!! 5MM Policies Cancelled!!" memes. Anyway, it's a good piece, and he concludes it as follows:
And so conservative objections to Obamacare are finally turning from the practical to the philosophical. In response to reports that Obamacare insurance turns out to be affordable, Roy, who has spent months warning of rate shock, mocks that “other people’s money will pay for it.” Conservative columnist Byron York likewise argues “Obamacare’s ‘good news’ applies only to the poor.”
...But at least conservatives are now representing their true bedrock position on Obamacare. It is largely a transfer program benefitting people who either don’t have enough money, or pose too high a health risk, to bear the cost of their own medical care. Conservatives don’t like transfer programs because they require helping the less fortunate with other peoples’ money.
I'm mentioning Chait's piece--including the links to Roy and York's pieces--because as it happens, I was working on my own version of the "GOP admits why they really hate the ACA" story. It was laid out similarly--a list of tired talking points, with the documentation for each one being stomped on, wrapped up with Roy's "other people's money" line. I had planned on posting it sometime Thursday afternoon, but was instead distracted by the Kaiser Family Foundation's "57% of exchange QHPs were previously uninsured" study which proved that I had been 100% correct in my March take-down of (ironically enough)...Avik Roy.
Anyway, I set the "GOP admits..." piece aside and instead planned on posting it tomorrow morning, but it would look a bit lame to do so now that Chait has beaten me to the punch.
However, I still have one tidbit of info that Mr. Chait didn't mention in his piece.
I don't know if it's because he didn't think it was necessary to include, or if he wasn't aware of it: I happen to know the exact moment that Avik Roy decided to openly admit the reason why he (and his Conservative colleagues) can't stand the Affordable Care Act (that is, besides the fact that The Black Guy managed to somehow make their own crappy bill somehow work).
You see, Roy's piece was published at 10:47am on Thursday the 19th. A couple of hours earlier (starting at around 7:00am), a half-dozen people, including Roy, myself, Xpostfactoid, Adrianna McIntyre, Pradheep Shanker, Yevgeniy Feyman and (briefly) Nicholas Bagley had engaged in a lively discussion/debate about the prior days' report by Roy and Feyman claiming that the ACA had "increased premium rates by 49%", which I had already addressed extensively here on Wednesday and and here later on that morning on Thursday.
If you read through the full discussion, you'll notice that Roy actually only makes one comment: He openly admits that the "49% higher" study wasn't an "apples to apples comparison" but then claims that this "isn't the most important" thing (when in fact it's vital to the study IMHO; if the before/after comparison isn't of similar policies, what's the point? As I noted later that morning, it's like comparing the price of a golf cart against that of a Ford Fiesta.
Anyway, here's the key thing: If you take a look at Roy's tweet from Wednesday afternoon and Xpostfactoid's response to it right in the thick of our Thursday-morning discussion (at 7:13am, to be precise), you'll find the crux of this whole matter:
Memo to lefties: (1) not everyone is eligible for #Obamacare subsidies; (2) subsidies aren't free to taxpayers. Underlying costs matter.
— Avik Roy (@Avik) June 18, 2014
.@Avik Sure they matter. We applaud the wealth transfer. Wealth's been transferred all the other way for 30 years.
— xpostfactoid (@xpostfactoid1) June 19, 2014
WHOOMP, THERE IT IS.
Xpost Tweeted that at 7:13am. 3 1/2 hours later, Roy posted his "Other People's Money" piece. While Roy doesn't mention Xpost's tweet (he focuses on Brian Beutler and Steve Benen instead), it's pretty obvious to me that it was this tweet which sent Roy into a tizzy...or at least was the one which pushed him into action on the piece, particularly this section:
Some on the left are dismissive of higher costs
I’m struck by how contemptuous the left can be about these issues, especially given the moral obligation of government to spend taxpayer dollars in the most efficient possible manner.
I'm sure that Roy felt as much satisfaction in "outing" the True Agenda of the Left as Chait did in bringing to light Roy & York's admission of why they're so infuriated about the ACA. Fair enough, although the reality is that at least for myself, the main agenda here is to make sure that every American has decent, affordable healthcare coverage, period, by whatever reasonable means.
The fact that some (not all) of this is being financed by a small tax increase on the same ultra-rich subset which has systematically screwed over and transferred massive amounts of wealth away from the very people who need that coverage is simply a bonus.
UPDATE: Nice catch by pdiehl in the comments below (as well as NR_Garrett via Twitter) regarding the second half of Roy's comment above:
"...given the moral obligation of government to spend taxpayer dollars in the most efficient possible manner"
Oh My Lord. Where to begin with this one?
Let's start with the easy one: It seems to me that giving away up to $7 billion per year to highly profitable oil corporations for no particular reason is not exactly "the most efficient possible manner" in which to spend taxpayer dollars.
Perhaps I should go with something more on topic? Well, it seems to me that wasting $24 billion for a 16 day shutdown of the United States Federal Government for no particular reason is not exactly "the most efficient possible manner" in which to spend taxpayer dollars.
And in terms of sheer economic impact, perhaps I'm wrong about this, but it seems to me that flushing between $2 TRILLION and $4 TRILLION down the toilet on a completely pointless war which resulted in hundreds of thousands of people being slaughtered for no particular reason is not exactly "the most efficient possible manner" in which to spend taxpayer dollars.
Meanwhile, whatever your opinion of this "wealth transfer", the fact remains that the funding involved in the Affordable Care Act a) is going to help millions of our fellow American citizens receive decent healthcare coverage while b) reducing the deficit.
That sounds pretty efficient to me.
So please, spare me the crocodile tears and hand-wringing over whether the government is "spending taxpayer dollars in the most efficient possible manner", Mr. Roy, OK?