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Essence of Obamacare

Megan McArdle has three posts that illuminate the meaning of the developments in Obamacare over the past week. Read them in this order: (1) “Obamacare gets easier to implement all the time….,” (2) “Commenter: Employer mandate was never going to work,” and (3) “The employer mandate: A necessary impossibility.” These posts repay the time it takes to read them with a better understanding of events in motion. The third of these posts condenses McArdle’s analysis to the essence:

The alternatives are to delay the whole bill, or resign ourselves to hemorrhaging wads of cash. The IT expert’s instinct to hold things together with some inelegant intermediate kludge won’t work. All the elements of the law are so tightly coupled that pulling one out makes the whole machine go haywire.

Obviously, the preference of the law’s supporters is to hemorrhage cash. Just go ahead and hand out subsidies indiscriminately, the better to build political support to block repeal. But this seems . . . well, I’m struggling for kinder words, but I can’t find any. It seems wildly irresponsible. Not to mention a fundamental betrayal of the promises that were made to get the law passed in the first place.

I don’t think I have ever shared McArdle’s credulity about the “the promises that were made to get the law passed in the first place,” and therefore think that McArdle’s cynicism doesn’t go deep enough, but her judgment is all the more powerful as a result. I haven’t seen anything quite like her analysis elsewhere and commend it to your attention.

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