New Republic Editor: Obamacare has Hurt Cause of Liberalism

Tuesday, 26 Nov 2013 08:09 AM

By Elliot Jager

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The disastrous of President Barack Obama's signature healthcare plan has damaged the liberal cause and the idea that government can still play a competent and unifying role in solving national problems, says New Republic Editor Franklin Foer.

In a blistering column posted online Sunday, Foer writes, "Liberalism has spent the better part of the past century attempting to prove that it could competently and responsibly extend the state into new reaches of American life. With the rollout of the Affordable Care Act, the administration has badly injured that cause, confirming the worst slurs against the federal government.

"It has stifled bad news and fudged promises; it has failed to translate complex mechanisms of policy into plain English; it can’t even launch a damn website," Foer says.

"What’s more, nobody responsible for the debacle has lost a job or suffered a demotion."

The editor goes on to say, "Over time, the Affordable Care Act’s technical difficulties can be repaired." But he adds, "Reversing the initial impressions of government ineptitude won’t be so easy."

Foer, noting that efficiency is key to liberal ideology, says if "liberals wanted the federal government to take on big new projects – more to the point, if liberals wanted taxes to pay for them – they needed the public to believe that the money would be well spent."

The nation would have been better off in the long run, he continues, if Obamacare had been anchored in the existing Medicare system.

"A two-page bill could have extended Medicare and provided universal coverage," he writes, "but by relying so heavily on the private market, and straining to avoid the taint of Big Government, the Affordable Care Act is the Russian novel of social policy, now totaling 20,202 pages."

He went on to quote Medicare architect and Johnson administration Health, Education and Welfare Secretary Wilbur Cohen's witticism that his Medicare achievement was "one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent implementation."

Commenting on Foer's article in The National Review, editor Charles Cooke sees the left "splintering" over Obamacare.

Cooke agrees with Foer that social media has made it harder to implement the liberal agenda. "American 'liberalism' has now to contend with the Brave New World that it once assumed would be instinctively on its side," Cooke says.

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