Democrats Just Need to Admit That Obamacare Is a Wealth Transfer

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Nov. 14 2013 11:12 AM

Democrats Just Need to Admit That Obamacare Is a Wealth Transfer

Who needs when you can just send people a check?

Photo by Steve Pope/Getty Images

The early morning of the Washington Ideas Forum closed with a fairly predictable chat between Fox News' Chris Wallace and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. Wallace gave Cruz far too many opportunities to launch into talking points. (Do you know that he thinks the real divide in politics isn't between Republicans, but between the grass roots and the Washington establishment? He does!) But toward the end, Wallace pressed Cruz on what Republicans could offer the uninsured. They had not, he pointed out, done anything that would cover the teeming masses of those without health insurance.

"It would have been simpler to send them a check, rather than messing up the health care of millions of Americans," said Cruz.

There was no follow-up, but the answer sort of crystallized how the health care debate has changed—and maybe how Democrats have failed to change with it. Imagine this exchange four, six years ago. Could a Republican get away with saying that the fix to health care was distributing money to allow people to buy whatever plans they could? No: At that time, you could blame the deficiencies of the health care system on the private sector, HMOs, greedy corporations.


With the government "in control" of health care, everything's changed. Now, a private insurer's cancellation is blamed by everyone on the government. Accurately! All a Republican needs to promise (you know, assuming no follow-up questions) is that he wouldn't have messed with the private sector and increased costs or screwed with the plan.

This can be said and done basically in perpetuity, because Democrats lack confidence in their only answer. Yes, some plans will cost more, because the ACA redistributes wealth to allow more people to get health insurance, at the expense of some people paying more.

Today's Obama "fix" to the independent market cancellations will do what it does. It doesn't advance the argument that there's a new, more redistributive health care system now.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 



Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem

Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology. 

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore

And schools are getting worried.

Two Damn Good, Very Different Movies About Soldiers Returning From War

The XX Factor

Lifetime Didn’t Think the Steubenville Rape Case Was Dramatic Enough

So they added a little self-immolation.

Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

Why a Sketch of Chelsea Manning Is Stirring Up Controversy

How Worried Should Poland, the Baltic States, and Georgia Be About a Russian Invasion?

  News & Politics
Sept. 20 2014 11:13 AM -30-
Business Insider
Sept. 20 2014 6:30 AM The Man Making Bill Gates Richer
Sept. 20 2014 7:27 AM How Do Plants Grow Aboard the International Space Station?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
Brow Beat
Sept. 20 2014 3:21 PM “The More You Know (About Black People)” Uses Very Funny PSAs to Condemn Black Stereotypes
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 6:31 PM The One Big Problem With the Enormous New iPhone
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 20 2014 7:00 AM The Shaggy Sun
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.