AP's Raum Comforts the Left: 'Health Law Not First New Program With Launch Woes'

Not to worry, people. Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and Medicare Part D got through "technical glitches, political hostility and gloom-and-doom denouncements." So will Obamacare.

That's the Christmas love letter delivered to the left by Tom Raum of the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, late this morning. Raum "somehow" failed to note that the size and scope of Obamacare's screw-ups, errors, and from all appearances deliberate omissions (e.g., no system for paying subsidies to insurers after a 42-month head start) dwarf that seen in any previous major rollout. Though other programs had their share of broken promises (e.g., Walter Williams ran down Social Security's original lies in a November column), no program has been handicapped by anything near the equivalent of the President's false guarantee ("if you like your insurance plan-doctor-medical provider, you can keep your insurance plan-doctor-medical provider"). Of course, Raum didn't mention that bitter reality. Excerpts from Raum's report follow the jump (bolds are mine):



Although multiple problems have snarled the rollout of President Barack Obama's signature health care law, it's hardly the first time a new, sprawling government program has been beset by early technical glitches, political hostility and gloom-and-doom denouncements.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt faced heavy skepticism with his launch of Social Security in 1935-37. Turbulence also rocked subsequent key presidential initiatives, including Lyndon Johnson's rollout of Medicare and Medicaid in 1965, Richard Nixon's Supplemental Security Income program in 1974 and George W. Bush's Medicare prescription drugs program in 2006.

Yet these programs today are enormously popular with recipients.

... After FDR kicked off Social Security in 1937, Washington's pre-computer age bureaucrats faced enormous hurdles enrolling people for the old-age benefits. Many had the same or similar names. Not all employers kept detailed records on employees and how much they were paid, further complicating the process.

True, but the number of Americans aged 65 and over at the time the Social Security Act was passed in 1937 was about 6 million (many if not most were not eligible for benefits), and it wasn't until January 1940 that it cuts its first check to a recipient.


Medicare and Medicaid, too, encountered early difficulties. For example, Johnson had to overcome resistance in some southern states to including African-Americans in the coverage.

Nixon's steps to overhaul U.S. welfare programs with the Supplemental Security Income program drew heated, early public opposition. Many states were reluctant participants. And by 1976 only about half of potential recipients were signed up. Today, the program covers more than 8 million Americans.

I don't mean to be impolite, Mr. Raum, but I feel compelled to point out that Social Security and Medicare have combined actuarial liabilities of over $50 trillion dollars ($26.5 trillion in Social Security and $27.6 trillion in Medicare).

Excuse me if I suggest that, with these two programs in the process of breaking the country's financial back, we could do without a third which would make the first two look like child's play.

Raum forgot about another "gloom-and-doom" prediction, namely that the 1996 welfare reform law would throw thousands or even millions of Americans into the gutter. It didn't happen. Instead, the millions of former welfare recipients who went out and got jobs contributed mightily to the economic prosperity of the late-1990s.

Similarly, the world won't end if Obamacare doesn't survive. We won't see the current net reduction in the number of Americans who have health insurance. We won't see people denied access to doctors and medical providers they have been seeing only because of geographic limitations; some of them are in life-threatening situations, and may die if things don't change. In fact, there's a good chance that the demise of Obamacare would be good for the economy.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

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