Obamacare in One (Very Long) Sentence.
Dr. Barbara Bellar is running for State Senate in Illinois. That is a real shame for the Romney camp, which certainly could have used her services in the speechwriting department:
Dr. Barbara Bellar is running for State Senate in Illinois. That is a real shame for the Romney camp, which certainly could have used her services in the speechwriting department:
So ubiquitous is coverage of presidential candidates in this 24-hour news cycle era — and so pervasive is the numbness that results — that it’s easy to lose sight of some truly bizarre developments in this year’s election cycle; developments that have seen their novelty rusted away by saturation coverage.
Among them: the signature achievement in the political career of Mitt Romney, the almost certain Republican nominee for president (especially with Rick Santorum leaving the race today), is so deeply unpalatable to conservatives that it even divides his advisers. Consider this, from Politico:
Two of the five members of [Mitt] Romney’s recently announced Health Care Policy Advisory Group have a record of opposition to his Massachusetts health care reform plan.
Paul Howard, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and a new addition to Romney’s advisory team, wrote in late 2010 that Romney’s plan has resulted in a dramatic increase in insurance costs for small businesses.
He also said it’s “no secret” that the state plan was the “template” for President Barack Obama’s federal health care law.
Scott Atlas, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and another new Romney health adviser, was sharply critical of Romney’s health plans in 2007 while Atlas was supporting New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s presidential campaign.
“Mitt Romney’s legacy is the creation of a multibillion dollar government health bureaucracy that punishes employers and insists middle income individuals either purchase health insurance or pay for their own health care,” Atlas told reporters. “The former is a mandate, the latter is a tax and neither one is free market.”
Lest the point be oversold, we should note that past Republican nominees have accessorized their necks with similar albatrosses. John McCain, for instance, was the co-author of a federal campaign finance law loathed by conservatives because it is inimical to political free speech. But there’s still a slight difference: Romney’s policy liability deals with one of the defining issues of the election he’ll be running in — and it also happened to be the intellectual predicate for his opponent’s crowning legislative achievement.
Virtually all the energy that has animated the conservative movement over the last three years — energy best exemplified by the Tea Party — has come in reaction to Obamacare and the government overreach it represents. Now the Republican Party will march into electoral battle behind the progenitor of that intrusion. We live in strange times.
Remember the alleged “crisis” that demanded ObamaCare? To hear Obama, Pelosi, Reid and their minions, that crisis demanded that we do something, anything, even if it meant passing a bill before finding out what was in it.
The overwhelming majority of Americans apparently never got the memo. According to Gallup, fully 82% of Americans rate their healthcare “excellent” or “good,” while 11% of the remaining 18% rate their care “fair,” and only 5% say “poor” (2% said “no opinion” or “not applicable”). As Gallup notes, “That combined excellent/good percentage has remained fairly steady at around 80% since 2001,” when polling on this question began.
Occupy the 5%!
So how many times must Barack Obama be wrong – flatly, indisputably, wholly, precisely wrong – before he withdraws from American political life out of pure shame?
Today provided another example. In selling ObamaCare, his cornerstone “achievement,” to the American people, Obama promised on March 8, 2010 that his bill “reduces most people’s premiums.” So what is actually happened in just the first year since he made that assurance? The Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research and Educational Trust report that health insurance premiums rose 9% this year. Employers’ average yearly premium for families climbed from $13,770 last year to $15,073 this year, and from $5,049 to $5,429 for individuals.
Perhaps this explains why Obama’s Justice Department curiously didn’t seek to delay United States Supreme Court review of ObamaCare this week – maybe even Obama suddenly wants it overturned as quickly as possible.
Remember when in June 2009 President Barack Obama promised that under his health care reform bill, “If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor, period. If you like your health care plan, you’ll be able to keep your health care plan, period. No one will take it away, no matter what”?
Byron York makes this contradictory observation:
On the one hand, the new law orders the establishment of health care “exchanges” through which anyone can purchase government-subsidized coverage. On the other hand, the law levies fines on employers who fail to offer coverage to their employees — but sets the fine far below the cost of coverage. In 2010, the average employer paid $4,150 to cover a single employee and $9,773 for family coverage. (Both figures are about double what they were in 2000.) The new law sets fines for employers who don’t cover their workers at $2,000.
So when it takes effect in 2014, the law will give employers a choice: Continue to offer increasingly expensive health coverage, or pay a relatively small fine, save a lot of money, and let employees buy their own subsidized coverage on the exchange. The incentive seems pretty clear.
So too does the bold-faced lie Obama told (yet again) in the health care reform debate. Whichever GOP candidate gets nominated for president should make this issue one of the main talking points of the general election.
Byron York relays why nominating Mitt Romney for president is so distasteful for Republican voters.
“With a little assist from the former governor of Massachusetts, we said that health care should no longer be a privilege in this country,” Obama said. “It should be affordable and available for every American.”
A short time later, at a smaller fundraiser in a private home in Brookline, Obama said, “Our work isn’t done. Yes, we passed health care, with an assist from a former Massachusetts governor.” The crowd, which had paid $35,800 per couple to attend, broke into laughter and applause. “Great idea,” Obama added. “But we still have to implement it.”
This week provides a stark contrast between a leader actually willing to risk political capital, versus a man who now seeks four more years of politics-as-usual.
On the one hand, we have House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R – Wisconsin). Tomorrow, Congressman Ryan will unveil a federal budget proposal that reduces spending by $4 trillion over the coming ten years, provides pro-growth tax reform and caps runaway federal spending. All without reducing Social Security benefits by a single penny for anyone already receiving them or over 55 years of age, along with Medicare reform that will save it from its catastrophic fate if nothing is done. Congressman Ryan knows full well that by offering budget leadership, Democrats will possess a “political weapon” to use against him, even if it means that “they will have to lie and demagogue” to do so. But instead of shrinking, he has chosen leadership.
On the other hand, we have the President of the United States. The purported leader of the Free World. The most powerful man on Earth. The man who formed a blue-ribbon deficit commission, then proceeded to ignore it. Instead of making sure that a Congress dominated by his own party could even manage to pass a 2011 budget, instead of offering decisive world statesmanship amid worldwide crises and instead of providing leadership in averting a national debt catastrophe, Obama instead focused on unveiling his 2012 reelection campaign this week. Instead of offering a plan, the AWOL Obama will apparently just sit back and attack Paul Ryan’s.
So there you have it. One man seeks to cut spending by $4 trillion, and the other man seeks to spend $1 billion getting himself reelected.
How great a law could ObamaCare be if companies like McDonald’s need a compliance waiver? The surge in waivers granted by Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is fast-approaching 800, or a little more than two a day since the law went into effect. At some point, exceptional cases swallow the rule. This seems to be the thinking behind today’s Rasmussen Reports poll:
Sixty-one percent (61%), in fact, think that if selected companies receive an exemption from certain aspects of the health care law, all companies should be treated the same way. Twenty percent (20%) now disagree and say all companies should not be given that exemption, but 19% more are undecided. These findings are comparable to the previous survey.
Where’s the fairness in granting waivers only to a few? Aren’t we all in this socialized health care pool together? Or are some companies too big to comply? If liberals had the courage of their convictions, they’d implement their health care takeover immediately so people would know exactly what it does. Since the law and its proponents would go down in flames in that scenario, instead we’ll continue to see HHS boil the economy slowly, hoping “only” 61% of the people notice.
I’ve yet to read a better sentence synthesizing the spirit of the Founding Fathers, the current Tea Party movement, and the threat to the American ideal embodied in ObamaCare than this passage from yesterday’s decision declaring the entire law unconstitutional:
“It is difficult to imagine that a nation which began, at least in part, as the result of opposition to a British mandate giving the East India Company a monopoly and imposing a nominal tax on all tea sold in America would have set out to create a government with the power to force people to buy tea in the first place,” wrote the judge, a Reagan appointee who sits in Pensacola, Fla.
U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson, intentionally or not, makes a great argument for keeping the federal government within its historic bounds. That Obama Administration officials are quietly pouting over the supposed dig makes it even better.
H/T: Evan Perez of the Wall Street Journal
Is there any promise that Barack Obama has kept as President? He certainly made plenty of them, only to break them.
Now, it appears that we have two more. Two very big ones. Testifying before the House Budget Committee this week, Medicare Chief Actuary Richard Foster was asked a series of “true” or “false” questions by Rep. Tom McClintock (R – California). Replying to McClintock’s question whether Obama’s famous pledge that “If you like your present health insurance, you can keep it” was true or false, Foster replied, “not true in all cases.” And when asked whether ObamaCare would reduce costs as he explicitly guaranteed, Foster replied, “I would say false, more so than true.”
If the political left clings to their “Bush Lied!” belief, where are they now and what do they have to say about Barack Obama? Just curious.
In October 2003, tough-talking optimist Arnold Schwarzenegger unseated bland public union yes-man Gray Davis as Governor of California in a revolutionary special recall election. Today, Schwarzenegger departs with a depressed 22% approval rating that serves as a warning for Republican newcomers in Congress and across the 50 states against the perils of go-along-to-get-along “bipartisanship.”
During his first two years in office, Schwarzenegger maintained a confrontational demeanor that California desperately needed as it hurtled toward its current disastrous state. In March 2004, for instance, he famously ridiculed California’s milquetoast political class as “girlie-men.”
Unfortunately, four common-sense and ultimately necessary ballot initiatives that he supported failed in November 2005. Instead of sticking to principles, Schwarzenegger opted for “bipartisan” political expediency and personal survival. What followed was a shameful litany of global warming bills, ObamaCare-like proposals, lack of leadership and tax hikes. His capitulation provided a short-term payoff via reelection in 2006, but ultimately proved disastrous for himself and the state. Today, despite Schwarzenegger’s early promise, California is in even worse shape than when he entered office. And jaded voters witnessed yet another sad example of a politician who promised to change the political culture, only to allow the political culture to change him.
Schwarzenegger’s failure, however, provides a helpful cautionary guide for incoming Republicans this new year. Namely, sacrificing the principles that got you elected at the tempting altar of “bipartisanship” will only deepen our nation’s current difficulties and eventually doom you politically.
Christine Erickson at Free Enterprise Nation has a chilling analysis of Judge Henry Hudson’s ruling that Obamacare’s individual mandate is unconstitutional:
The idea behind the individual mandate is that it is a way to achieve universal coverage through the private market, rather than through a government-sponsored plan. When considering the regulations placed on insurance companies by the reform law, the individual mandate is necessary because it brings healthy individuals into the insurance pool. Under a major provision within the law, insurers can no longer deny policies to people with preexisting conditions. If this regulation is put in place without the individual mandate, a healthy individual can go without insurance, knowing that he or she can purchase coverage after having been diagnosed with a serious medical problem. For insurance companies that sell to the individual market, this would shift the makeup of their policy holders to the point where they would spend much more on claims than they make in premiums, leaving them with the decision to drastically raise premiums (15% to 20% by CBO estimations) or exit the individual market altogether. Once private insurers are forced out of the individual market, it is almost guaranteed that the government would step in and create a government-run plan.
With Judge Hudson’s ruling, as well as two other recent rulings that the mandate falls within Congressional limits, healthcare reform supporters now see two likely outcomes to a Supreme Court challenge: the law will be upheld in its entirety, or the individual mandate alone will be overturned. If the Supreme Court decides the latter, the country could be immediately set on a path towards a government-run, single payer system.
Amid solid recommendations to put Medicare and Medicaid on a sustainable financial path, Obama Debt Commission member and Roadmap author Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) staked out very defensible ground for today’s conservative leaders to Roll Call’s Mort Kondrake:
And the incoming chairman of the House Budget Committee described himself as having been mentored by the late Rep. Jack Kemp (R-N.Y.), believing in “a prosperous opportunity society built atop a solid safety net.”
“I am not a laissez-faire, Hobbsian libertarian,” he told me. “I believe in a circumscribed safety net, one that helps people get back on their feet and is there for people who can’t help themselves. But I believe in a pro-growth, limited-government, free-enterprise society that encourages people to make the most of their lives.”
Anyone else for a one-on-one debate between President Barack Obama and Rep. Ryan on healthcare reform next January?
Our Liberty Update, CFIF’s weekly e-newsletter, this week includes the commentary “A Balanced Budget Amendment Doesn’t Have to Mean Higher Taxes – CFIF’s ‘One More Vote’ Proposal Doesn’t.” In that column, we note that the White House deficit commission’s fundamental flaw is that it takes for granted 2010 federal spending levels as its baseline:
The overriding problem with the commission’s plan is that it accepts the 2010 fiscal year as its spending base, thereby locking in the alarming spending increases of the Obama-Pelosi-Reid regime. That includes the failed “stimulus” that attempted to spend our way to prosperity, the bailouts, the pet projects and everything else they’ve heaped into our budget. Since 2008, federal spending has surged from approximately $25,000 per household to $30,000 per household, and jumped during that two-year span from its historical average of 20% of gross domestic product (GDP) to approximately 25% of GDP. Richard Rahn points out that, “Federal government spending and revenues in 1968 as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP) were almost identical to the levels in 2008.”
Unfortunately, it’s actually even worse than that. The commission also leaves in place ObamaCare, which is already driving up healthcare costs and adding to the deficit (despite promises that it would have the opposite effect). As James Capretta from National Review Online observes, we shouldn’t be surprised given the commission’s composition:
None of this is all that surprising, given how the commission was formulated. It’s not really a bipartisan commission at all; it’s an Obama commission. It was created by the president and stacked with Democratic appointees. Two-thirds of the 18 members were picked by the president or Democratic congressional leaders. Only six were appointed by Rep. John Boehner and Sen. Mitch McConnell. The president says the public doesn’t want to “re-litigate” the health care war. He’s wrong. As last Tuesday’s exit polls make clear, a strong plurality wants exactly that. The American people know that the ill-advised law was railroaded through Congress and is a colossal mistake. The fundamental problem here is that it is not possible build a bipartisan budget framework on a foundation that includes a partisan health-care plan with sweeping implications for future spending levels.
Americans cannot be asked to accept the commission’s findings when they take as a given current spending levels and an ObamaCare atrocity that must be replaced.
A new Rasmussen Reports poll shows that most voters want the new House Republican majority to investigate the spending impact of ObamaCare. The survey found that 55% of respondents support a close look at the costs and implications of the health care “reform” bill jammed through Congress earlier this year.
With the tentacles of ObamaCare reaching far beyond the purview of “health” don’t be surprised if House committees like Budget, Oversight and Government Reform, and even Commerce (among others) open investigations into the most drastic government power grab since LBJ’s Great Society.
“We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it.” That was Nancy Pelosi last March, promoting that Pandora’s Box known as ObamaCare. Well, it turns out that Pelosi and the bill’s proponents may be upset to find out what is not in it. Namely, they failed to include a severability clause in their haste.
So what is a “severability clause,” and why might it matter? A severability clause is a simple provision stating that if a court later declares one or more subsections of a bill void, the remainder of the bill remains valid and enforceable. Without a severability clause, an entire bill can be jeopardized even if a very small part of it is stricken by the judicial branch. Now, with separate lawsuits challenging ObamaCare quickly proceeding toward judicial reckoning, it is possible that the entire package may crumble if its individual mandate (forcing free citizens to engage in involuntary commerce by purchasing approved health insurance) or some other clause falls.
There is no guarantee in this regard, as the Supreme Court just this year curiously allowed the tangled Sarbanes-Oxley web to survive despite its own absence of a severability clause. Nevertheless, the complete demise of ObamaCare due to the failure to add a simple severability provision could be one positive byproduct of ObamaCare’s sloppy birth.
In a refreshing victory today for individual freedom, the concept of federalism and Constitutional principles, a federal judge in Florida rejected the Obama Justice Department’s request to dismiss the challenge by 20 states against ObamaCare’s unconstitutional provisions.
Among other things, Judge Roger Vinson ruled that the states can proceed in their argument that ObamaCare’s individual mandate, which forces citizens to engage in involuntary commercial transactions by purchasing insurance, violates the Constitution. The Obama Administration, which couldn’t seem to decide whether ObamaCare passed Constitutional muster as a “tax” or under some other convenient authority, contended that the challenge should be thrown out in its entirety. With this preliminary legal victory, the case can now proceed toward trial.
Throughout the ObamaCare debate, President Obama promised that, “If you like your healthcare plan, you can keep your healthcare plan.” Nearly every single day, however, it seems that yet another healthcare plan becomes a casualty of ObamaCare.
Last week, McDonald’s made headlines when it revealed that a low-cost “mini-med” healthcare plan for 30,000 employees may now be “economically prohibitive” due to ObamaCare. Now, we receive news that 3M will discontinue a group healthcare plan for retirees not old enough to receive Medicare by 2015. The reason? “Health care reform has made it more difficult for employers like 3M to provide a plan that will remain competitive.”
The White House continues to wage a Soviet-style campaign against private enterprises that dare deliver the inconvenient news that ObamaCare is already destroying the healthcare marketplace, but killing messenger after messenger won’t change simple reality.
Happy semi-anniversary, ObamaCare! Just six months ago, your proud papa proclaimed you the vehicle for lasting American voter compliance, errrr, contentment. Your Uncle Joe Biden elegantly pronounced that you were “a big f***ing deal.” Don’t let the fact that you’re now sinking their party’s majority get you down, though. To celebrate, why don’t we go out and deny private health insurers the requested premium increases that they’ll need to accommodate their collective new costs of feeding your voracious appetite? Making them run their businesses at a loss will be great for celebratory laughs!
In his weekly Wonder Land column entitled “It’s the Spending, Stupid,” The Wall Street Journal’s Daniel Henninger describes how “concern” over out-of-control federal spending has reached the boiling point:
They, the voters, are not ‘concerned’ about Uncle Sam’s spending floating toward the moon. They are enraged, furious, crazed and desperate.”
Heninger rightfully points out that it won’t be enough for voters to simply return Republicans to House and Senate majorities this November. Rather, something more lasting, tangible, and assuring is needed:
If voters give control of the House to the GOP, the party desperately needs to establish credibility on spending. Absent that, little else is possible. Independent voters now know that the national Democratic Party, hopelessly joined to the public-sector unions, will never stabilize public outlays. In a sense, the GOP’s impending victory is meaningless, a win by default. If the Republican rookies entering Congress next year don’t do something identifiably real to stop the federal spending balloon, voters two years from now will start throwing the GOP under the bus.”
Enter CFIF’s new “One More Vote” citizen activist campaign. “One More Vote” refers to the fact that Congress fell just one vote short in the 1990s of passing a constitutional amendment requiring a balanced budget, and sending it to the states for ratification. Echoing Daniel Henninger’s commentary this week, the “One More Vote” homepage states that, “Currently, there are several worthy ideas proposed in Congress. But we need more than ideas. We need a solution.” Accordingly, “One More Vote” proposes a Constitutional amendment requiring (1) a federal balanced budget annually, (2) a 60% majority of both houses of Congress to raise the debt ceiling, and (3) a 60% vote of both houses of Congress to increase or create new taxes.
It’s precisely the type of real, lasting and tangible change that enraged American voters described by Henninger demand. Click on “One More Vote” now, and join the movement. This time, let’s make sure the change is real.