Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Not the Economy: Obamacare & Social Issues (II)

"Obamacare was supposed to be the capstone in the arch of a new progressive era. The Dems were going to show us all that government really does work. Smart government by smart people, using modern methods and the latest up to the minute research from carefully peer reviewed articles in well regarded social science journals can solve big social problems. . .

"But even if the Supreme Court doesn’t pull the trigger and kill the law in June, the darn thing won’t fly. The public hates it. . . A legislative body trying to write a health care law for a country like ours is like a neurosurgeon operating, drunk, with one hand holding a chainsaw and the other in a boxing glove. . . Obamacare . . . is a 20th century solution for a 21st century society."

--Walter Russell Mead, American Interest

In Part I, we talked about the central role Obamacare plays in liberal efforts to make politics not about equal opportunity, but rather about government-engineered equality. We quoted Stanford economist Victor Fuchs’ statement that a “most effective” way to build “allegiance to the state is through national health insurance”—as European social democracies have done.

Health care is one way to shift voters’ attention from job creation failure to social issues; ironic because morality is usually associated with conservatives, not liberals. We earlier mentioned Washington Post commentator Robert Samuelson’s realization that portraying issues in moral terms dodges the need, in a bad economy, to pay for solving a problem:
politicians prefer framing issues in moral terms. Global warming is about "saving the planet." Both sides of the abortion and gay marriage debates believe they hold the high ground.

Obama pitches his health care plan in moral terms: health care is a "right;” its opponents less moral. . .Supporters . . . back expanded health care as "the right thing"; it makes them feel good about themselves. They get "psychic benefits," [whereas e]conomic benefits [including expanded health care] cost money. Psychic benefits make them feel morally upright and superior at no monetary cost to politicians! The magic solution. [emphasis added]
Social issues—universal health care, abortion, the right to free morning-after pills/contraception, saving the planet—seem aimed at women, a top liberal target group. Unmarried women already vote Democratic. But David Paul Kuhn, in “RealClearPolitics,” reports on polls that remind us morality doesn't automatically turn women into progressives. According to Kuhn:
more women are social conservatives than men. 57% of white Republican women attend church at least once a week, compared to 42% of white Republican men. . . among whites, women attend services and Bible study at a significantly higher rate than men. . . Republican women are more likely than Republican men to believe abortion should be illegal in all circumstances.

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