To his credit, comic Bill Maher is more than willing to part company from the liberal herd over radical Islam. But when it comes to Dear Leader and his signature legislative achievement, Maher bleets with the best of them.
During a discussion with guests on his HBO show Friday night, Maher exhibited a fine specimen of liberal illogic that delighted his overwhelmingly like-minded audience.
The subject at hand was the baffling popularity of GOP frontrunner Donald Trump. One of Maher's guests, financial journalist Monica Mehta, suggested that support for Trump isn't all that inexplicable given the extent of wasteful spending and duplicity in government --
MEHTA: You're seeing this outrage because there's an exceptional frustration at the fact that the Government Accountability Office, for example, will look at the Department of Defense and over the last 20 years, $8 trillion is missing from their financials. That's $400 billion a year missing. We talk about Social Security ...
MAHER: And which party wants to not look at that and just always says we need more defense spending?
MEHTA: No, but at the same token, like, when we're talking about Social Security expiring by 2029, that's $67 billion to make it funded.
HUFFINGTON POST EDITOR SAM STEIN (rushing to Trump's defense): OK, hold on, Donald Trump wants to save it ...
MEHTA: So this is $400 billion that we could get if we actually just audited this. McCarran-Ferguson Act, 1945, insurance companies are exempt from antitrust regulations, they can collude together to set prices and share information. How many Democrats, how many Republicans have been in office since then? Why is this still here? I looked at health care company shares from 2009 to today, health care company insurance stocks are up 400 percent while the S & P is up 200 percent. This is a bull market. Why is this happening if you're reforming health care?
MAHER (proceeding to step in it): Well, you're saying since Obamacare (which became law in March 2010), this is what's going on.
WEEKLY STANDARD EDITOR BILL KRISTOL: Yeah, it's good for the insurance companies.
MEHTA: I'm just saying, why are they getting special treatment?
MAHER: And the reason why ...
KRISTOL: They had to cut a deal with insurance companies to get it passed, that's why.
MAHER: Exactly! Because one party would not even consider the idea that we cut the profit motive out of people sick and dying, which is what every other civilized country in the world does.
Whereupon Maher's presumably stoned audience erupts in applause after witnessing a display of economic analysis reminiscent of Pravda editorials in the pre-Gorbachev era.
Uh, which party is that, Bill? The Republicans who unanimously opposed Obamacare -- or the Democrats who rammed it through via Rube Goldberg machinations to construct a towering pillar of crony capitalism?
The deal cited by Kristol to get Obamacare passed was that insurance companies could no longer reject customers due to pre-existing conditions -- while everyone was mandated to buy health insurance or face fines that grow increasingly worse.
Nearly six years later, the results are in -- Obamacare has become a never-ending boondoggle for health insurance companies, despite Maher's delusional claim, while medical costs and insurance premiums keep rising and few Americans can claim that their treatment has gotten better. This is why we're witnessing the bizarre spectacle of the two Democrats running for president .... vowing to reform health care! ... several years after this allegedly occurred. How many times must we sit through this dreary and predictable horror flick?
Given Maher's visceral loathing for the profit motive, I wonder why he doesn't challenge its clearly predatory existence in other industries -- entertainment, to cite an obvious example. For while the business of medical care is to treat our physical health, the purpose of entertainment is to sustain our mental health. And as any goo-goo progressive will dutifully remind you, both are essential to one's overall well-being. Maher's contempt for profits might be more credible if it extended to his own line of work.