The Daily Beast's Michael Tomasky on Tuesday drew a faulty comparison between the rollout of ObamaCare and the 2005 implementation of President George W. Bush’s Medicare Part D program. The thesis of Tomasky’s article, titled, “Enough Already on HealthCare.gov. Don’t You Remember Medicare Part D?”, was that Republicans should try to help ObamaCare succeed just as Democrats, many of whom had voted against Medicare Part D, tried to help that law succeed after it was passed in 2005.
Riding his high horse, Tomasky declared:
"Most Democrats voted against [Medicare Part D]. But they did not then sue the Bush administration and try to take the thing to the Supreme Court and get it invalidated. And then, when the start-up was a cock-up, Democrats didn’t go around saying it was proof the law had to go. They tried to fix it."
There’s a simple explanation for those Democrats’ behavior, and Tomasky, perhaps unintentionally, hit on it in his piece. He wrote that ObamaCare and Medicare Part D were “precisely similar in spirit—big, new government programs that depended largely on citizen interaction via personal computer.”
Now, which of our two major political parties is always up for a big, new government program? Medicare Part D was a new federal entitlement, so of course Democrats were on board with it. They only opposed it in the beginning because it was a Bush initiative. But once it was in place, it aligned with their vision of the role of government, so they did all they could to help it survive and thrive.
With the Affordable Care Act, the parties have been flipped. The Republicans are now the opposition, and the current incarnation of the party is not at all inclined toward the massive government expansion that ObamaCare represents. Naturally, they have done all they can to oppose it.
While ObamaCare and Medicare Part D may be “similar in spirit,” there are some key differences between the two laws. ObamaCare is a mandatory program that impacts the entire population. The government can fine anyone who refuses to participate by buying health insurance. Medicare Part D, on the other hand, is a voluntary program that only impacts a certain segment of the population (those eligible for Medicare). ObamaCare, therefore, is a much bigger undertaking. It has more potential to do harm in the long run, so it deserves more scrutiny from the opposition.
Tomasky, for good measure, threw in the race card at the end of his Republican-bashing lecture. He finished on this shrill note, directed at the GOP: “And for God’s sake, put your sick constituents’ needs ahead of your racial paranoia about the president. Enough, enough, enough.”