Libertarians fear Obamacare so much they closed the government

It's not yet clear if the move will backfire

Published October 2, 2013 3:06PM (EDT)

  (<a href="">David Huntley Creative</a> / <a href=""></a>)
(David Huntley Creative /

This article originally appeared on Alternet.


What is the most effective way to destroy Obamacare?

It's not to defund it, as there's really no such thing as defunding it. Individuals are mostly funding it by buying insurance policies, and the rest of it as a whole bunch of other separate and individual pieces – things like rules against pre-existing conditions, which require no funding whatsoever.

The way to destroy Obamacare is to make sure that young, healthy people don't sign up for it.

That's because of something known in the insurance industry as the "death spiral."

A "death spiral" happens when an insurance company gets more and more older and sicker customers, which raises their costs, which in turn forces them to raise their rates. When they raise the rates, fewer and fewer young and healthy people sign up, and their proportion of older and sicker people gets even worse, and their expenses go up.

Eventually, the health insurance program dies.

The only way to prevent a death spiral is to have a large pool of young, healthy people making up most of the income to the health insurance company, so that it can pay out for what has to be a relatively small fraction of its customer base who are older, sicker or both.

So, if you want to kill Obamacare, prevent young people from signing up.

The Koch brothers tried to prevent young people from signing up with their creepy "Uncle Sam with a speculum" ad, but it was widely ridiculed.

Time for Plan B. Here's how they did it.

First, remember that midnight of September 30 was the moment when Obamacare exchanges across the nation opened for enrollment.

Every news organization in the country had prepared detailed packages and reports on what Obamacare is, how to sign up for it, how he exchanges are going public right now, and all the details.

Obamacare experts were being lined up as guests for September 30 and October 1 on radio and television networks and stations across the country. Local stations planned their local versions of this, talking about their state programs.

Those two days we're going to be a big deal, programming wise. I know. I'm in the industry. We were planning it, too.

These were going to be major programs – in some cases major features – on September 30, and October 1.

This massive news coverage, provided to Obamacare for free, would make up for the millions in advertising to promote Obamacare that Republicans had stripped out of the legislation.

All those programs on radio and television would have given the equivalent of millions of dollars worth of advertising to Obamacare, and caused tens of millions of young people to learn about the program, get excited about the program, and begin signing up right away.

Again, the way to destroy Obamacare is to make sure that young, healthy people don't  sign up for it. Because if they don't, it will die. Just simple economics.

So what could the Koch brothers and other billionaire funders of the Tea Party do to make sure that every television network in America did not do a special feature the night of September 30 about how to sign up for the new Obamacare program?

And to make sure that on October 1 there weren't big news and feature stories on radio and television about how the health exchanges were offering cheaper insurance than anybody imagined?

How could they make sure that the starting date of Obamacare got buried in the news cycle so deeply that it was lost?

Under normal circumstances, that kind of story-killing would take a hurricane, or a massive earthquake, or a crazed mass-murderer gunman. But those things are pretty hard to control or predict.

So instead, the billionaires turned to the politicians they own, and told them to pull off such a radical stunt that it would seize the attention, continuously, of all the television networks and newspapers throughout the entire news cycle of September 30 and October 1.

They shut down the government.

It's just that simple.

Come up with the biggest story you possibly can – shut down the government – and run it through at the very moment Obamacare is going into effect. It seizes the new cycle, and hardly a mention is made that, "Starting tomorrow morning you, too, can sign up on a healthcare exchange for your Obamacare plan."

It was a brilliant strategy, and it worked.

The night of September 30, and all both wall-to-wall reporting, often had reporters asking the question, "Why this and why now?" It was right in front of their faces and they missed it.

But wait, there's more! This is also the week that the IPCC is rolling out the details of their new major report on climate change.

Again, networks and news organizations were preparing specials, packages, and wall-to-wall coverage of climate change and the IPCC. All of that is now buried in a closet someplace, along with the feature specials on how to find your local Obamacare exchange.

For the oil billionaires like the Koch brothers, people who make money dumping carbon dioxide waste into the atmosphere that we have to pay for, and hold to a political ideology that says the middle class should not have health insurance, this was an absolute twofer.

We've been conned. The media has been conned. And libertarian billionaires who want America to be a "me" society and not a "we" society won.

You can thank the Supreme Court for this, by the way. In their Citizens Uniteddecision, they gave corporations and billionaires the power to own politicians more than they ever have before, and that's just what they've done.   Welcome to the brave new world of American politics.

By Thom Hartmann

Thom Hartmann is a talk-show host and the author of "The Hidden History of the Supreme Court and the Betrayal of America" and more than 25 other books in print. He is a writing fellow at the Independent Media Institute.

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Alternet Conservatism Gop Koch Brothers Libertarians Obamacare Shutdown Tea Party