Wednesday, March 28, 2012


A lot of liberals -- see, for instance, Josh Marshall -- think the appropriate response to a Supreme Court rejection of the individual mandate would be for progressives to pursue single-payer health care. Jonathan Bernstein and Jamelle Bouie think that's silly, because, in their view, if this Court can find a heretofore unexpected rationale for invalidating the Obama health care law, the Court will find a way to invalidate single payer as well.

But I don't think we're ever going to find out whether that's true, at least not for decades. Why? This is why:

In U.S., Fear of Big Government at Near-Record Level

Americans' concerns about the threat of big government continue to dwarf those about big business and big labor, and by an even larger margin now than in March 2009. The 64% of Americans who say big government will be the biggest threat to the country is just one percentage point shy of the record high, while the 26% who say big business is down from the 32% recorded during the recession....

(Click chart to enlarge.)

Notice the trend. We always fear "big government" the most.

We're Americans. We love the government programs we've grown accustomed to -- Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, unemployment insurance, and so on -- but we hate government. And we have no idea that that makes no sense.

The corpocracy and the right-wiong noise machine are hell-bent on keeping us this way (and would love to get us to reject even the government programs we like). Meanwhile, Democratic politicians won't make an affirmative case for government, and often don't work very hard (especially at the state and local level) to make sure government programs work well.

And I wouldn't count on future support for large government programs like single payer, either. Think about it: Who's the one politician now generating excitement among Americans under thirty? Ron Paul.

We have to make average Americans believe government is the solution in this case, and we have to fight vested interests to the death. In theory, it could be done. In practice, I don't believe it's possible anytime soon. If you disagree, start working on changing ordinary Americans' minds about government now. It's the necessary first step.

(X-posted at Booman Tribune.)


ploeg said...

I love how we can project an abstraction upon any arbitrary governmental program we want.

To practically anybody, Medicare is not "big government", and Medicare isn't going anywhere. And as politicians will discover in short order, people who are slightly under 65 vote in roughly the same proportion as people who are slightly over 65, and as more and more people under 65 become stranded in that no-mans-land between employer-sponsored coverage and Medicare, said people are gonna want themselves some early Medicare. And there's getting to be more of these folks every day, and they vote.

So perhaps we don't get Medicare-for-all, and perhaps it will take decades before we get Medicare-for-all. And I don't profess to know what these people on the Supreme Court are going to decide (although the recent past suggests that the Supremes nibble around the edges rather than go full throttle hard against; after all, nibbling around the edges has worked out well for them when it comes to abortion, at least so far). But one thing you can count on is that even the Supreme Court, with all its power, cannot overturn demographics.

ploeg said...

This is, of course, not to say that it would be preferable for a majority of the Supremss to climb on the bench, turn around, drop their pants, and raise their robes at Obama and Congress. For all its faults, it would be a real loss if the current iteration of HCR were defenestrated. This is not to mention the shitstorm that would follow as other parties started challenging other laws and programs that all depend upon the power of the federal government to regulate interstate commerce. It is, in fact, preferable to accept things as they are rather than look forward to some pie in the sky that is to come maybe a generation or two from now, if then. Even so, the country is changing, the power is shifting, and the Supremes at best can only delay the inevitable.