To fans and defenders of the Affordable Care Act, the bill is your normal, run-of-the-mill but wholly fantastic and wonderful game-changing measure, up there with Social Security, Medicare and the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts as national milestones -- bills that were launched amid opposition and discord, but in time were accepted and loved.
But from the beginning, this has been different in three signal ways that have been self-destructive, the last of which may be the worst.
The first is the fact that previously mentioned programs were simple: the civil and voting rights acts stopped abuses and the others involved simple transfers of money. Obamacare is an attempt to manage and regulate millions of private transactions, creating a cascade of panicky "fixes" that create more complications (and lawsuits) and have ripple effects on the larger economy.
The second is that it's churning out losers who outnumber the winners, and soon, if it effects those whose health care comes from small businesses, will number a great many more. The other four helped millions at a minimal cost to the public in general. Au contraire, health care is wreaking havoc upon millions just to give less than was hoped to a much smaller number. This is the marker for unviability.
And then, we come to point three. Fans of the law say it was passed fair and square by both houses of Congress, declared constitutional by the high court of the country and reaffirmed by President Obama's election in 2012. Of these things, only the second is accurate, as polls now make clear that Obama would not have won in 2012 had people known what was in his pet project -- and pains were taken to ensure this was so.
The bill was designed so as not to unfold for three years after passage, and news of its contents was largely suppressed. As the Washington Post reported Dec. 14, key parts of the plan were delayed for a year for political reasons, so no word of them would get out to the public until the election was over. (Can't let the voters know what they're voting on.) And then there's the fact that Obama lied at least 29 times when he told the people they could keep their plans and their doctors, which he certainly knew wasn't true.
As for Congress, the law was in fact passed by both of its houses, but "fair and square" hardly describes it. Threats and arm-twisting were needed to lose only 34 Democrats' votes in the House, and the 60 votes in the Senate (before Scott Brown was elected) were won by more arm-twisting, not to mention the millions of dollars given the lucky residents of Nebraska and Louisiana in the form of buyoffs and bribes.
After Scott Brown, it was a whole other story: When his surprise win in Massachusetts took away the Democrats' filibuster-proof margin, they twisted the law to pass the bill anyhow. "Nothing illegal about that," Charles Krauthammer said. "Just totally contrary to the modern American tradition -- and the constitutional decency -- of undertaking major social revolutions with only bipartisan majorities." The other four laws were completely transparent, sold on their merits and easily passed by the usual methods.
Sold on a lie, cloaked in deception and passed on a trick just this side of legal, this act is not merely an outlier but also an outlaw in the legislative history of our republic. It deserves no respect, gets none from the public and therefore can't last very long.
NOEMIE EMERY, a Washington Examiner columnist, is a contributing editor to The Weekly Standard and author of "Great Expectations: The Troubled Lives of Political Families."