Obamacare, in one photo

Given this week’s news of yet another delay to yet another Obamacare regulation that just five short years ago was going to literally keep people from dying in the streets, I thought an illustration would be useful. So here it is:

flaming train

Yep. That’s it. That’s Obamacare in a nutshell.

I first saw this image linked to Obamacare by Twitter user @cuffymeh (#FF) a couple years ago during the 2012 presidential campaign when the first delays and waivers started popping up. I laughed for a good 10 minutes. It perfectly portrays everything about Obamacare in one neat, catastrophic package.

The absurdly huge amount of flame represents the massive size of the failure so far. From waivers, to delays, to implementation, to website failures, to coverage gaps, to state rebukes, to ever-sinking poll numbers. It is uniquely appropriate that there are more flames and smoke than train in the photo.

While it is, of course, a still photo, the train does have a sense of motion, but it seems like a very sluggish, hampered speed. Obamacare has moved just as slowly and ungracefully. Some of the parts that would eventually become the law started being proposed in 2007 even before the 2008 presidential campaign heated up (pun fully intended).

These proposals plodded along for another three years before finally being signed into law in March 2010 as the “Affordable” Care Act. But even then it chugged along in fits and starts, as it wasn’t even written to be fully implemented until this year, more than four years later. After this most recent delay, implementation will still stretch well into 2016 before the law is fully in effect. So much for being an urgent life and death issue.

The train is dirty and old, but fascinatingly it doesn’t appear to be damaged at all by the massive inferno which engulfs it…yet. Obamacare, similarly, has remained largely in tact despite its numerous glitches and perpetual unpopularity. A few small provisions have been repealed over the years, like the CLASS Act provision and the 1099 requirement, but somehow the law has remain untouched by the flames of grassroots outrage, so far. As implementation becomes final over the next couple years, that probably won’t change even if Republicans take back the Senate this year and win the White House in 2016.

Finally, the slight leftward tilt (from the train’s perspective) of the train as it goes around the bend in the track represents the ideological bent in both the law’s construction and the effect it is having on the nation. Many leftists claim the law is actually conservative or moderate, because of all the corporate collusion and giveaways embedded therein, and since the Heritage Foundation originally came up with the idea of the individual mandate decades ago. This is, of course, nonsense. Corporatism is in direct opposition to the free market ideals of the right, and while Heritage did invent the mandate as an alternative to the Clinton administration’s proposed Hillarycare, it remains a bad idea that they long ago disavowed.

Conversely, if you look at the train from the viewer’s perspective rather than the train’s, it tilts right, which is the effect Obamacare has had on the public in an electoral sense. The bill and subsequent law have literally never been supported by the public. It has had at most 42% support just a few months after President Obama signed it into law. It plumbed the depths of 57.5% disapproval in December 2013 in the aftermath of the website launch disaster. And while President Obama was reelected in 2012, his signature law is singlehandedly responsible for the Republican majority in the House. It was elected in a historic landslide the November after its enactment.

I anticipate Obamacare will ultimately share a different fate than its locomotive counterpart. Despite electoral fluctuations and continued implementation issues, it will likely survive in some form. The same can’t be said for whatever happened to this train.

Obamacare choo choo


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