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When Will the Backlash Occur?

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The ObamaCare website. (Reuters)

Americans watching the Affordable Care Act’s implementation are witnessing a government policy debacle that is as large as any in memory. It is hard to imagine a more vivid demonstration of the ruinous consequences of government stepping into a market in which it doesn’t belong. And, sadly, what we are seeing now is only the beginning of the policy’s failure. 

In its most updated assessment of the ACA, the government’s own Congressional Budget Office caught the Democrats flat-footed by projecting that the law is severely flawed on a number of fronts, matching in many ways what the ACA opponents clearly and repeatedly warned about. Aside from all of its other negative impacts, millions of jobs will be lost, specifically due to this law.

The Obama administration and its mouthpieces somehow keep spinning this awful news into something positive.

Instead of being part of the remarkably productive American workforce, a labor force that has served as the model for the free world, millions of American families will become newly dependent on government subsidies and will exit from the workforce.

Yet, as we should have expected, the Obama administration and its mouthpieces somehow keep spinning this awful news into something positive. White House economist Jason Furman said it gives people new freedom, liberating them from full-time jobs with their long working hours to spend more time with their families. Obama Press Secretary Jay Carney insisted that people won’t be “trapped” in their jobs. And the New York Times editorial board joined in, claiming that reducing the number of full-time workers by 2.5 million over the next decade “is mostly a good thing, a liberating result of the law.” 

Eerily reminiscent of Orwell’s 1984 where a new word blackwhite meant “a loyal willingness to say that black is white when Party discipline demands this … the ability to believe that black is white, and more, to know that black is white, and to forget that one has ever believed the contrary,” supporters of ObamaCare seem to have swallowed the president’s narrative about the ACA, illogical and distorted, indeed destructive to the very foundation of American society, as it is.

All that, despite hundreds of millions of dollars in new taxes and a dramatic take-over of authority over health care by the government. And despite spending over 2 trillion dollars of hard earned taxpayer money on subsidies, government insurance, and other costs, the law still leaves 31 million non-elderly adults uninsured. Yes, after an entire decade under this law, the most heralded “achievement” of ObamaCare, indeed the administration’s main justification for the law, getting people insured, is projected to be a failure by the CBO.

It couldn’t be a legitimate policy mistake, could it?

Only one conclusion about this administration seems reasonable at this point. President Obama and his administration must be convinced that the American public will remain “loyal soldiers” to his vision of liberalism, no matter what their cost. The Obama administration must cynically believe that Americans will continue to show a shocking naïveté and a near total lack of critical thinking about the Affordable Care Act.

Given that the public has been fed a wholly deceptive narrative on America’s health system - the gross misinformation and distortions directly contradicting the facts about the high quality and world-leading access in our health care system in the world’s leading scientific and medical journals - perhaps this should not be a surprise. And given that the ACA is completely antithetical to the best interests of young Americans yet they still support the law, perhaps the president can still be comfortable in assuming that he will receive their important support, regardless of the facts.

How long can the Obama supporters remain loyal to this catastrophe of a law? Common sense and independent thought are fundamental to the American psyche, so when the facts become clear, Americans typically see the truth. January 2014 polling from Gallup shows a startling increase in the percentage of Americans who now view health care as the nation’s most important problem, quadrupling from only 4 percent to 16 percent in just one year. And the most dramatic uptick is specifically among the very groups who were critical in reelecting this president. Almost five times as many women now point to health care as the top US problem compared to only 12 months ago, roughly 50 percent more than the percentage of men who do so. Among age groups, the percentage of those voters under 35 specifying health care as the biggest problem facing the country has skyrocketed by more than six-fold from an almost unnoticeable two percent in January of 2013 to 13 percent now, an increase far steeper than any other age group. Even the president's most ardent, most loyal supporters are rejecting ObamaCare, now that they have finally understood its impact.

So now, we are left wondering … when will the backlash occur? I have a feeling that it is already underway.

Scott W. Atlas, MD is the David and Joan Traitel Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and author of "In Excellent Health: Setting the Record Straight on America’s Health Care" (Hoover Press, 2011).