47° Good Morning
47° Good Morning
OpinionColumnistsWilliam F. B. O'Reilly

O'Reilly: Obamacare, the posterchild for conservatism

I'm not writing this column to be obnoxious to liberals. I'm really not. But I suspect it will be viewed that way.

I know how long and how hard liberals have dreamed and worked toward universal health care coverage in America, and how excited they were when President Barack Obama made it a priority. But the effects of that effort -- the realities of Obamacare -- have become a powerful, modern-day argument for political conservatism.

Let me be clear about what I mean by conservatism, because the term has become overburdened with connotation from the political left and right. I refer to it through Abraham Lincoln's definition, which I find the simplest. Conservatism, our 16th president wrote, is a belief in "the tried and true against the new and untried."

The law of unintended consequences is at the core of Lincoln's observation. That is, don't mess with established things too much or too quickly because you can't be sure what might happen if you do. Obamacare is fast becoming the poster child for that admonition. The more it rolls out, the greater the "oops" factor comes into play.

The Affordable Care Act has delivered unintended consequences from the start. One thing after another has gone wrong, which is reflected in the law's 38.9 percent approval rating among Americans today, according to the Real Clear Politics polling average. The latest bad news comes from the health care industry, which reported this week that Obamacare premiums are about to skyrocket for senior citizens in many parts of the country. The White House is pushing back against that assessment, but its credibility on the ACA is near exhausted. The stuttering rollout of Obamacare -- it's had scores of delays thus far -- has taken its toll.

It was also reported this week that just 1.08 million 18-to-34-year-olds have signed up for ACA-mandated health insurance so far. That's about 25 percent of young people, when 40 percent at this juncture was considered the minimum to make the ACA work. That comes on top of a Washington Post report that only one in 10 of previously uninsured Americans, in whose name Obamacare was shoved through Congress, is signing up for insurance now.

Things sounded a heck of a lot better in theory.

I think it's fair to say liberals tend the view the world for the way it ought to be, while conservatives view it for the way it is. It's noble to want to improve things -- no one would deny that -- but healthy change tends to occur organically, not radically. History has proved that time and again.

Perhaps conservatives are too stubborn in being unwilling to consider new ideas sometimes, but their inclination to slow things down is a critical one. Americans are being reminded of that with Obamacare, which was passed without a single Republican vote. This great liberal triumph, this signature achievement of our president, may set the progressive movement back decades in America before all is said and done.

William F. B. O'Reilly is a Republican consultant who is working on the Rob Astorino campaign for governor.