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Obamacare: Crony capitalism on steroids

As we survey the mounting damage done to our health-care system, our economy and our freedom by Obamacare, we must acknowledge that the government could not perpetrate this criminal enterprise on the American people without willing partners in the private sector. The government’s partners are the crony capitalists who saw a deal they could not resist.

When President Obama and the entire liberal establishment insisted that something must be done to bring health insurance coverage to “46 million uninsured Americans,” insurance companies saw an opportunity. Instead of fighting the government takeover of private health care, they said, “Let us help.” And boy, did they!

This monstrous government scam could never have been enacted into law without the support of crony capitalists who joined Obama and the Democratic Party in selling this socialist scheme to the American people.

The companies in health insurance industry and the medical professions were among the leaders in this fools’ parade in 2009 and 2010. It is small comfort to the Americans now losing their insurance coverage or seeing their premiums double to see Obama now throwing the insurance companies under the bus.

Why is anyone surprised? The complete destruction of the private insurance marketplace has been the goal of every single-payer proposal for the past 50 years. Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid and other Democrats are now openly admitting that Obamacare has always been understood as a step toward the eventual adoption of government-run and government-provided health care. “Sure, there will be a few bumps in the road, a few glitches, some Web page delays, some detours and blind alleys. But be patient. We will get there.”

“And the capitalists will help us get there,” is the unspoken password in the hallways of the Obama White House.

We now see liberal Democrats from Massachusetts to Colorado, from Elizabeth Warren to Mark Udall, telling their angry constituents that it’s the insurance companies who are to blame for the Obamacare train wreck. If we can persuade Obama and Sebelius to extend the period of enrollment in Obamacare, all will be well. Democrats point out that it’s the insurance companies who are sending out the cancellation notices or the premium hikes. Never mind that they are merely obeying the law– in the eyes of Obamacare apologists and the mainstream media, they are the only villains, not the authors of the legislation.

Why did the insurance industry not see this from the beginning? Who can have much sympathy for them as “victims” when they helped design the scheme? Critics of the plan tried to tell them that the left sees private insurance as an obstacle that must eventually be replaced, but they were willing dupes.

Yes, the insurance companies can say and are saying, “Obamacare made me do it.” But let’s remember and let’s remind them that they helped bring this beast into our world. In medical terms, they were the sperm donors.

The lesson here is actually an old one: Crony capitalism is nothing new and is not confined to “green energy” subsidies, municipal urban renewal projects, or tax increment financing for a new sports stadium. The passage of the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” demonstrated that the health insurance industry knows how to play this age-old game, a game as old as politics.

It was Karl Marx who famously said that the capitalists would sell the communists the rope with which they would be hanged. In 21st century America, they will also give political donations to the politicians who enact the laws to drive them out of business.

In Colorado, business lobbyists were nearly unanimous in supporting the 2011 legislation that created the Colorado Health Benefits Exchange. Supposedly, this would allow Coloradans to control their own health insurance plans instead of letting the federal government determine their fate. Shall we ask the 250,000 Coloradans who this month lost their insurance coverage how that’s working out for them? How do the plans available to them in the “Exchange” compare to the private plans they lost?

What is today called “crony capitalism” is simply a modern type of exploitation of government power for private gain. While a few companies may benefit in the short run, we all lose in the long run. Ronald Reagan got it right when he reminded business audiences that “When you get into bed with government, you will always get more than a good night’s sleep.”

What Obamacare illustrates is that the most dangerous and expensive form of crony capitalism is not “insider trading” or sweetheart contracts that give an advantage to one company over others. The most far-reaching damage to our prosperity and our freedom occurs when whole industries join with government to carve out “new markets” and new customers for regulated and government-provided products. Obamacare is crony capitalism on steroids.

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