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Columns

February 19, 2014

PARKER: Once upon a time-ish

(Continued)

As Nancy Pelosi (hereinafter Fairy Godmother) explained to Jon Stewart, one of the goals of Obamacare was to give people “life, a healthier life, liberty, the pursuit of your own happiness.” Stewart replied, “Really?”

“Yeah, if you want to be a writer, if you want to be a comedian, if you want to be a camera person, if you want to start a business -- “ In an earlier iteration, Pelosi even suggested that Obamacare would allow people to quit their awful jobs to write poetry.

Well, bust my buttons! Why didn’t you say that in the first place?

Not quite poetry, but I think it has potential.

Freeing people not to work has never been a national goal that I can recall, though everyone acknowledges the problem of tying insurance to employment. This is why Republicans have argued, belatedly, for portable insurance.

In the meantime, what the economy needs least is a federal program that prompts lower- and middle-class workers to drop out of the workforce. This is in addition to the many who are losing their jobs involuntarily or having their hours cut by their employers who want to avoid the mandate to buy insurance or the fine for failing to do so.

Again, this is a simple matter of incentives and survival, which President Obama seems to have recognized in postponing the mandate for midsize businesses until 2016. Or perhaps he is trying to head off another health care controversy before the midterm elections? Shucks, do you suppose?

Add to the above the CBO’s report last May that 31 million people will not have health insurance in 2023.

Any one of these things would be bad news. Combined, they boggle the well-ordered mind. If I may invoke our Fairy Godmother again, Pelosi was the most honest of all when she warned us that “We have to pass the bill [Obamacare] so that you can find out what is in it.”

Today, knowing what we know, we are left with what we used to call a million-dollar question, though it is much more expensive now: How does one defend spending $1.2 trillion for a health care overhaul that disincentivizes people to work and that leaves us with 31 million uninsured?

One writes poetry.

Kathleen Parker is a columnist with the Washington Post Writers Group. She can be reached at kathleenparker@washpost.com.

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