Obamacare made simple:
Hat tip: Caped Crusader
Obamacare made simple:
Hat tip: Caped Crusader
I went to bed depressed and waking up to these Drudge Report headlines reminded me why:
The whole Iran-Munich moment has left me believing that Obama is much smarter than we realized. Even as he was lying to Israel about (a) having her back and (b) not negotiating with Iran, he created a box from which it’s almost impossible for Israel to escape. There are only bad choices says Yossi Klein Halevi:
Israel’s window of opportunity to launch an effective strike is closing. It is now measured in months, not years. The deal, worry Israelis, could further narrow that window.
Israelis note that the deal doesn’t cover inspections of Iran’s nuclear weaponization program, including fuses, timers and metallurgy, which will no doubt continue apace. And Israel takes for granted that the Iranians will persist in doing what they’ve done all along: lie and cheat, but this time under the cover of a deal. In every previous rounds of negotiations, after all, the Iranians continued building secret facilities. All of which could mean further reducing Israel’s timetable for a strike.
If Israel concludes that its window is closing and does decide to strike, even while the deal remains in effect, it risks becoming an international pariah—in effect exchanging roles with Iran. On the morning after an Israeli strike, Israel could find itself alone, facing tens of thousands of missiles from Hezbollah and Iran launched against its home front.
During the first Obama administration, the urgent Israeli question was: Is he is a friend of the Jewish state? That question was largely resolved for many Israelis during the President’s visit to Israel last March, when he won over much of the public by affirming the Jewish roots in the land of Israel and the indigenousness of Israel in the Middle East, as well as Israel’s past efforts to make peace.
Now, though, Israelis are asking this: After eight years of President Obama, will the Middle East be a safer or more dangerous region for Israel?
For most Israelis the answer is self-evident. The turning point came this summer, when Obama hesitated to enforce his own red line over Syria. That was the moment that he lost the trust of the Israeli public on Iran.
This is chess on a malevolent scale. It was also probably a planned move. Never forget that the Los Angeles Times has hidden in its vaults a videotape of Obama speaking at a radical pro-Palestinian gathering. The fact that the LA Times refuses to release the video has long led people to assume that Obama says something along the lines of “I’ll take care of Israel for you.”
We at this blog knew that Obama was never a friend to Israel, and was always doing whatever he could to curry favor with Islamist regimes. (Witness his love affair with the Muslim Brotherhood.) It turns out that this wasn’t just a feeling, but was a goal to which he committed himself, even though it required the use of fraud and chicanery. (And let’s not forget the quite obviously faked “long form” birth certificate, which almost certainly hides the fact that the father about whom Obama dreamed in Bill Ayer’s best-selling Obama autobiography probably wasn’t his real father.)
Indeed, Obama’s presidency is proving to have been built entirely on fraud. Not just lies, which are often merely self-exculpatory or self-aggrandizing, but on fraud, which is the deliberate use of lies and information withholding in order to get people to change their position to their detriment and to your benefit. He told Americans and Israelis lies, knowing that they were lies, for the specific purpose of getting both America and Israel to change their position to their detriment and to Obama’s benefit.
In the case of Obamacare, the (knowing and known) lies were that (a) you could keep your plan; (b) you could keep your doctor; and (c) average insurance costs would drop $2,500 per year for a family. He told these lies to strip Americans of their insurance and pave the way for socialized medicine.
In the case of Israel, he repeatedly told Israel that (a) he would never abandon her and (b) he would work to end Iran’s nuclear aspirations. These lies meant that Israel did not strike against Iran when the striking was relatively easy (as was the case in the strike against the Syrian nuclear facility). Now, as Halevi showed, even if Israel successfully strikes Iran, Hezbollah is on her border with thousands of missiles aimed at her. Moreover, having now struck this deal with Iran, Obama won’t have America’s back if she strikes; he’ll join the chorus of disapproval isolating Israel.
In the past, when Israel had her back against the wall, she came out swinging. Thanks to Obama’s fraud, her hands may well be tied.
Do you remember the headline horror of 9/11? I do. Since we were on the West Coast, we woke up in time to turn on the television and see the towers fall. I don’t need to find words to tell you what that felt like because you were there and you remember. You felt it too — that sense of watching a train race towards a giant canyon, where the bridge is out, and there is nothing you can do to stop the inevitable carnage. Every day, I wake up now, grab my iPad, and, driven by a fierce compulsion, open it, expecting that Obamaworld will show me headlines fully equal to the despair and horror of 9/11.
UPDATE: The wonderful image that Matt Drudge used this morning comes from Jon Gabriel.
I trace back to Dennis Prager one of my favorite expressions: “I prefer clarity to agreement.” Too often, agreement can be like Tacitus’s definition of a Roman peace (“they make a desert and call it peace”). In the years since Obama’s election, I’ve frequently argued that, with a weak American president, the world might get some necessary clarity. (For example, in January 2011, I said apropos Obama’s retreat from the world stage, “The clarity that emerges when the strong man is gone might be helpful.”)
Looking at the headlines, it occurs to me that Americans are getting a lot of clarity about what today’s Democrats really stand for, while the world is getting a lot of clarity about what a post-American world looks like. The following links all tie into this post’s theme about the clarity that Obama has wrought.
Obamacare reveals Obama for what he is: not a glorious tyrant, in the mold of Louis XIV or Henry VIII, but a petty bureaucratic Leftist. You and I knew that early on, of course, but the rest of America is catching on to this reality . . . so there’s clarity for you.
The young and the poor just got a dose of clarity today: Even the wealth transfer that is Obama’s core (but don’t call it redistribution) was done incompetently, with low-income, especially young low-income people finding that they’re in the increasingly expensive Obamacare market without a subsidy net.
I hope John Fund is correct when he says it can still be repealed — but that will happen only if the American people have learned their lesson and vote Republican in 2014, and if the Republicans don’t prove that they’re as complicit in Big Government as we currently suspect. (And in that regard, the end of the filibuster may also bring some welcome clarity for conservative voters.)
Peter Wehner comes right out and says it: Obamacare is finally causing people to see the President and the Democrats for at least some of what they are — failed technocrats. But again, the question remains whether we’ll get intelligent action in clarity’s wake.
Angelo Codevilla thinks the same is true with Obama’s appalling agreement to allow Iran to continue building its nuclear program; namely, that it forces clarity (or, as he phrases it “reality’) on the world: “But let us look on the bright side: There is value in leaving no doubt about reality.”
And finally, even the media is getting a little tired of being pushed around. This tiny rebellion won’t stop the media’s slavish devotion because, even if media members have had it with the man, they still support the cause. However, to the extent the media consuming public watches this little tiff, it might produce enough clarity in some that they start backing away from the cognitive dissonance that enslaves them.
Clarity . . . it’s a good thing.
*Thanks to Earl for pointing out that I’d forgotten those three very important words.
We all know that Obama and the Democrats committed fraud on a massive scale when the sold the public on Obamacare. I do not believe that, in the annals of history in any democratic country has a government ever committed fraud against its people in such a way.
Andrew McCarthy makes the case that the purpose behind this fraud was to pave the way for socialized medicine. The goal he says, was to knock everyone off their insurance, to destroy the insurance companies by bankrupting them, and then to have the government ride to the rescue. I have no doubt that this is correct. Indeed, I have never had any doubt, since conservatives, including those gathered at this blog, having been making precisely that argument since 2009.
What I’m wondering now, though, is whether the Democrats bollixed up their obvious goal through their own corruption and incompetence. In a couple of years, when everything collapses, will people see the government as the white knight charging to the rescue or, after having watched Obamacare in action, will they do everything possible to avoid having the government take over health care? If this plays out right, moving into 2016, won’t there be a rush to Republicans?
As always, the only question is whether the Republicans will offer a real market-based plan, or if they’ll just offer their own dreadful version of government-run medicine.
Incidentally, when it comes to government’s built-in incompetence creating large-scale technological projects, I cannot recommend this post highly enough.
Superficially, it’s just another very funny “Hitler finds out . . .” video. At a deeper level, though, it’s a stunningly accurate and precise indictment of every bad thing we’ve found out (so far) about Obamacare’s myriad failings, both the intentional and the unintentional ones:
Hat tip: Power Line
Just as Jonah Goldberg was inspired by Obamacare, so too is Mark Steyn. Obamacare may be the greatest political disaster since . . . well, since ever,* but its virtue is that it provides free-range for real talent. I was trying to find a paragraph from the Steyn column to quote, but realized that I was choosing all of them, since each is a gem. It seems to me, therefore, that the best thing for you to do is to read the whole thing yourself.
*I am so digging these Obama asterisks, except with mine, unlike his, I actually tell you what’s behind the asterisk. When I say “ever,” I really mean it. Other presidents have embraced policies that looked reasonable in the beginning but that, because of decisions made along the way, proved to be political liabilities (i.e., Vietnam or the Iraq War). Then there have been circumstances beyond a president’s control, such as Hurricane Katrina, which a hostile and deceitful media spun into an instant liability. But I do not believe that there has ever before been such a disastrous piece of uni-partisan (mono-partisan?) legislation that so many people accurately predicted would fail and that exploded so spectacularly. Moreover, from that initial explosion, it’s gone and gotten even worse. It’s like a 9.5 earthquake with even greater aftershocks.
Here’s a visual metaphor, complete with the beginning, where everything seems to be going so well, but was built upon “well-meaning” deceit:
Am I delighting in this spectacle? You betcha. As I’ve said, I’m worried about the economy, and desperately sorry for people who have consistently opposed Obamacare yet are now caught in its toils. Nevertheless, to see the deceitful, arrogant Obama, Dems, and media crawling around in the mud gives me intense, unholy, almost indecent pleasure. My only hope now is that the Republicans don’t dig out their usual playbook and snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Then of course, it will be my turn to weep.
I could have done this as myriad small posts, but I was in the mood for something big. I’ll separate the different ideas and issues with asterisks (after all, Obama’s promise with his unspoken asterisk has made asterisks the hot new thing in writing).
My friend (I like say that — my friend) Sally Zelikovsky has written rules for Republicans who want to win elections. They are very pragmatic rules which state that the time for internecine cherry-picking, purging, and warfare should wait until after the Democrats no longer control Washington. I’m just giving the rules. Please go to her post to see her intelligent support for many of the less obvious or more challenging rules:
(1) Duke it out in the primaries and whole-heartedly support your candidate of choice.
(2) Do not support your preferred candidate by stooping to Democrat levels.
(3) Never forfeit a “sure thing” candidate for a high risk one.
(4) Unless an incontrovertible liability, never abandon a viable candidate especially in an important race.
(5) In extreme cases, when a candidate is hurting other races, it’s okay to withdraw support.
(6) Do not use outliers to formulate strategies for the entire country.
(7) Make protest votes a thing of the past [snip]
(8) Think of the end game.
(9) Social conservatives and tea partiers should hold any elected Republican’s feet to the fire.
(10) Moderates should expect social conservatives and tea partiers to hold their feet to the fire.
(11) Do not air our collective dirty laundry.
(12) Always anticipate the leftwing response, think through your story, then stick to it.
(13) In politics, as in life, there are people in any group or organization who have varying degrees of commitment. [snip]
(14) Use the media to communicate with the PEOPLE. This is your chance to be a PR person for conservatism, even though the press is never on your side.
(15) Always promote the improved quality of life in Republican-run states andcontrast this with the diminished quality of life in true blue states.
(16) Speak with one voice on the issues where there is consensus.
(17) Where there is no consensus, speak to the fact that we are a diverse party that welcomes debate but, in the end, we are all guided by time-tested conservative principles that promote freedom.
Some of the suggestions are hard to swallow, because they continue to provide political cover for checkbook Republicans, meaning those who support a Democrat agenda, but who make loud noises about “we have to be able to pay for it.” Read Sally’s whole article and, if you feel like it, please get back to me.
Lee Smith has a brilliant analysis of what John Kerry and Barack Obama are doing in the Middle East:
So how did we reach a point where the United States is working with the Islamic Republic of Iran, while longtime U.S. allies are not only outside the circle but trying to block an American-Iranian condominium over the Middle East? A pretty good idea can be gleaned by taking the advice given by Politico in an article detailing Obama’s habit of meeting with prestigious reporters and columnists to test-drive his ideas: “If you want to know where the president stands on a foreign policy issue . . . read the latest column by David Ignatius” or Thomas Friedman, another frequent sounding-board for the president.
Read the whole thing and weep. What they’re doing is every bit as bad as it sounds, and there will be terrible repercussions.
Fouad Ajami says that Obama’s magic is gone. I like his article but I have to disagree with the core premise. Obama never had magic. What he had was a complicit media. It’s easy to win the game when the referees have determined in advance that you’ll win. At a certain point, though, the spectators begin to think that the fix is in.
Up until this past Wednesday, I tended to side slightly with the government regarding Edward Snowden — namely, that he was a traitor who stole America’s secrets. And indeed, he seems to have stolen lots and lots of secrets. What I learned on Wednesday, though, when I heard Mary Theroux, of the Independent Institute, speak, is that the government’s spying on American citizens is so enormous we literally cannot comprehend its scope. The data collection (which is in the multiple zetabytes) grossly violates our inherent Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure. NSA employees before Snowden tried to blow the whistle on this beginning around the year 2000, and got ferociously persecuted by the government because of their efforts. Snowden’s spectacular leak broke that log jam.
But here’s the really important thing that Theroux said: The government gets so much data, it’s useless for the stated purpose of crime and terrorism prevention. As it comes in, it’s simply so much white noise. It certainly didn’t stop 9/11 or the Boston bombing. In this regard, think of England, which has more CCTVs per capita than any other country in the 1st world, and maybe in any world. Nevertheless, these cameras do nothing to prevent crime. As the number of cameras has increased, so has the crime rate. The data is useful only after the fact, to help (sometimes) apprehend the criminal.
Well, one can argue that ex post facto apprehension is a good thing — but it’s a good thing only if there’s been a clear violation of a pretty well known law (e.g., don’t beat people to death or don’t rob a jewelry store). We’re looking at something much more sinister here. Think of the volume of law in America and, worse, think of the staggering volumes of rules interpreting those laws.
As Theroux noted, Stalin’s chief of police famously said (and I’m paraphrasing) give me the man and I can find the crime. We Americans have a government that’s sitting on data that can be used to criminalize us after the fact the current government (Republican or Democrat or Third Party) doesn’t like us. It’s like a landmine under every American.
Since Obama is quite possibly the most inept national security president in the world, it’s arguable that Snowden’s revealing secrets along those lines (e.g., that we’ve been eavesdropping on allies) leaves us in no worse shape than we were before. After all, as Lee Smith notes above, Obama has already turned our allies into enemies. What Snowden did do with his escapade was to remind us that, when government begins collecting every bit of information simply because it can, every citizen becomes a potential criminal. We’re not at the Stasi stage yet, but our government is laying the groundwork for a Stasi society. That’s an utterly terrifying thought. We still can stop it now. Once it’s in play, stopping it gets much, much harder to stop that fascist juggernaut.
Given the debacle that Obamacare is proving to be for Obama, the Democrats, and Progressivism generally, a reader sent me an email saying that we should be grateful for Chief Justice Roberts for allowing this disaster to unfold. That email reminded me that, back in June 2012, when Chief Justice Roberts managed to salvage Obamacare, I wrote a post looking for lemonade in Roberts’ opinion and, once again, I was a bit prescient. (And yes, I am mining many of my old posts as real-time events are showing that I predicted with a fair degree of accuracy everything from Obamacare, to the shifting alliances in the Middle East, to Obama’s meltdown when the real world intruded on his little narcissistic dream.) It’s a long, wandering (and, of course, fascinating and insightful) post, but here’s the Chief Justice nub of it:
Roberts wrote the decision at the end of a 90 year continuum holding that Government fixes problems and the Supreme Court fixes Government. This approach makes “We, the people” unnecessary. Rather than elections being the corrective, the Court is the corrective — except that the Court’s make-up is controlled by the Government. (Remember the Bork debacle?)
Roberts refused to play this game. He slapped back the Democrats’ hands when it came to the Commerce Clause, telling them that the federal government cannot legislate inactivity. And he held — quite correctly — that if there’s any possible way for the Court to salvage a law, it must do so. His salvaging was to say that, this particular law, written in this particular way, with these particular controls over the people, can be salvaged by calling it a tax. It’s an ugly decision, but probably a correct one. And then he tossed the whole thing back to the American people.
I can just see Roberts’ thought-process (although he might have thought in more polite terms): You idiots elected a Congress and president that used every kind of political chicanery known to man in order to pass the biggest tax in American history and one that, moreover, completely corrupts the free market system. It’s not the Supreme Court’s responsibility to correct that kind of thing, provided that the judges can, as I did, find a smidgen of constitutionality in it. There’s an election coming up in November. Let’s hope you’ve wised up enough to figure out that my Supreme Court is returning power to “We, the people.” We will not pull your chestnuts out of the fire. We will not legislate from the bench. We will construe things as narrowly as possible. If you, the people, don’t like it, you, the people, elect different representatives.
Speaking of the Supreme Court, Ace wonders if Obama just gave the Supreme Court another bite at this rotten apple.
Power Line brought this AP headline to my attention: “In Reversal, Obama to Allow Canceled Health Plans.” Who knew that a constitutionally appointed executive had the power to “allow” canceled health plans?
It was an especially interesting headline to read because, last night, I attended a panel discussion with AP reporters, photographers, and the editor in chief of the AP photograph department. The purpose was to promote a new book of photographs that AP employees and stringers took during the Vietnam War: Vietnam: The Real War: A Photographic History by the Associated Press. It was an interesting event, although I’m sorry to say that they were boring speakers. (It seems like an oxymoron, but they were boring speakers who offered some interesting content.)
One of the things the panelists kept saying is that they have so much integrity and are devoted to even-handedness in their subject matter and presentation. We know that’s a joke when it comes to written coverage about domestic politics. AP has been a Democrat shill since at least George W.’s administration. But it’s also been a shill when it comes to photographs. Given their record, I have to admit that it was a bit difficult to listen to the panelists’ smug satisfaction about their higher calling, integrity, and even-handedness.
I like Deroy Murdock’s writing, so I liked his analysis of the Obamacare debacle. It’s fun to read. It doesn’t have the soaring schadenfreude of Jonah Goldberg’s instant classic, but it’s still darn good.
Speaking of good writing, Megan McArdle is at it again, this time pointing out in very polite, analytical language that Obama has taken on the behavior of a tyrant (not a word she uses, but it’s the gist): The law is what Obama says the law is. It’s probably worth thinking about the Snowden revelations as you read McArdle describe the way in which Obama usurps power. The media is clucking, but not with any force; the Democrats are running or enabling; and the Republicans are in-fighting. We’re seeing a weird, passive (even Weimar-ian) anarchy that creates room for a tyrant to breathe and grow.
I’m pleased to say that I never liked Oprah, so I’m not surprised to learn that she’s a race-baiting phony. Incidentally, to those who have mentioned in the comments that liberals are like beaten wives who keep coming back for more, Oprah is Exhibit A. She destroyed her TV show by endorsing Obama, and he rewarded her by freezing her out of the White House. So what does Oprah do? She keeps crawling back, defending the man who used her and abused her. I’m not sorry for her though. Her racist venom makes pity impossible.
Just a few fisks about the lies and anti-constitutionalism in Obama’s ukase this morning. As a preliminary to this, let me just say that the Affordable Care Act, i.e., the actual law that Congress passed, requires the health care exchange and the new policies to go into effect as of January 1, 2014. That’s not a choice, that’s a mandate. And now, let me cherry pick my way through Obama’s abysmal confession of failure, which he augments with arbitrary, capricious, and tyrannical dictates against ostensibly “free market” insurance companies:
Switching gears, it has now been six weeks since the Affordable Care Act’s new marketplaces opened for business. I think it’s fair to say that the rollout has been rough so far, and I think everybody understands that I’m not happy about the fact that the rollout has been, you know, wrought with a whole range of problems that I’ve been deeply concerned about.
I don’t think anybody is going to confuse “I’m not happy about” or “I’ve been deeply concerned about” with “The buck stops here.” Obama — America’s chief executive officer — has once again cast himself as a passive, victimized spectator in his own administration.
But today, I want to talk about what we know after these first few weeks and what we’re doing to implement and improve the law. Yesterday, the White House announced that in the first month, more than a hundred thousand Americans successfully enrolled in new insurance plans. Is that as high a number as we’d like? Absolutely not. But it does mean that people want affordable health care.
That’s an interesting obfuscation. The fact is that this “more than a hundred thousand” number includes a handful of state exchange enrollees, in addition to the 26,000 or so federal enrollees; that it jumbles people who actually bought insurance with people who just put a policy in their shopping cart; and that it fails to provide necessary information about subsidizers versus subsidizees in the exchange. I believe this number is it’s also a mere 5%, or maybe less, of the necessary number of enrollees needed by this date to make the system function.
The problems of the website have prevented too many Americans from completing the enrollment process, and that’s on us, not on them. But there’s no question that there’s real demand for quality, affordable health insurance. In the first month, nearly a million people successfully completed an application for themselves or their families.
Those applications represent more than 1.5 million people. Of those 1.5 million people, 106,000 of them have successfully signed up to get covered.
You’ve got to admire the chutzpah that sees Obama boast about something that is, even on his own terms, a less than 10% success rate. And that’s just in Obama’s universe. As noted above, the exchanges have had a success rate far lower than 10%. Oh, and isn’t it nice the way Obama bravely acknowledges that it’s “on us, not on them [the citizens]” that the enrollment rates are so pathetic? Also, have you noticed that, when there’s a success, as with Osama bin Laden’s killing, Obama emits the word “I” with the same high-pitched, repeating squeal one hears when an overstuffed whoopee cushion yields to someone’s voluminous bottom, but that the “I’s” disappear entirely (the whoopee cushion is pre-flattened) when Obama is at fault?
Another 396,000 have the ability to gain access to Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. That’s been less reported on, but it shouldn’t be. You know, Americans who are having a difficult time, who are poor, many of them working, may have a disability, they’re Americans like everybody else. And the fact that they are now able to get insurance is going to be critically important. Later today I’ll be in Ohio, where Governor Kasich, a Republican, has expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, and as many as 275,000 Ohioans will ultimately be better off because of it. And if every governor followed suit, another 5.4 million Americans could gain access to health care next year.
Actually, in the conservative press the Medicaid enrollments have been heavily reported, because they take us one step further to bankrupting the system. Oh, and there’s the little problem of Medicaid outcomes being worse than outcomes for the entirely non-insured. Put another way, all that Obamacare has succeeded into doing so far is pushing hundreds of thousands of Americans onto a certain pathway to the worst possible medical outcomes.
So bottom line is in just one month, despite all the problems that we’ve seen with the website, more than 500,000 Americans could know the security of health care by January 1st, many of them for the first time in their lives. And that’s life-changing, and it’s significant.
See my comment about Medicaid, above, and my comment about the fact that the administration is hiding the ball when it comes to knowing which numbers refer to people with actual plans and which refer to people with plans in their shopping carts. Moreover, if the numbers are such that there’s a death spiral at work, that statement is actually another “asterisk” sentence from Obama. The real sentence should read: “more than 500,000 Americans could know the security of health care by January 1st,* *while more than 300 million Americans should be prepared to know the insecurity of a completely destroyed healthcare system by July 1st.”
That still leaves about 1 million Americans who successfully made it through the website and now qualify to buy insurance but haven’t picked a plan yet. And there’s no question that if the website were working as it’s supposed to, that number would be much higher of people who’ve actually enrolled.
What can one say? That’s Shamwow! talk, unrelated to reality. If wishes were horses than beggars would ride.
So that’s problem number one, making sure that the website works the way it’s supposed to. It’s gotten a lot better over the last few weeks than it was on the first day, but we’re working 24/7 to get it working for the vast majority of Americans in a smooth, consistent way.
As Rush Limbaugh said, why in the world should we believe that statement? Obama has lied to us every step of the way. Also, as is typical in tyrannies, his acolytes have lied to him and he’s lied to himself. Otherwise, Obama would have leapt at the Cruz/Lee bloc’s demand that the government delay Obamacare’s implementation.
The other problem that has received a lot of attention concerns Americans who’ve received letters from their insurers that they may be losing the plans they bought in the old individual market, often because they no longer meet the law’s requirements to cover basic benefits like prescription drugs or doctor’s visits.
Funnily enough, amidst all the lies, and spinning, and puffery, that sentence offended me most: “Americans who’ve received letters from their insurers that they may be losing the plans.” May lose their plans? May!? This is denial so overwhelming that it leaves me sputtering incoherently. They already have lost their plans. That’s why you, Mr. President, are standing there lying and spinning and puffing. They’ve already lost their plans and you’re now trying desperately to save yourself and your party. May? He should be impeached just for that.
Now, as I indicated earlier, I completely get how upsetting this can be for a lot of Americans, particularly after assurances they heard from me that if they had a plan that they liked they could keep it. And to those Americans, I hear you loud and clear. I said that I would do everything we can to fix this problem. And today I’m offering an idea that will help do it.
Not assurances, Barry-me-boy, promises. Promises made 37 times on 37 different occasions in front of 37 different audiences. Complete with the Shamwow! “I guarantee it.” At least Obama didn’t go the New York Times route and call his lies “incorrect promises.”
Already people who have plans that pre-date the Affordable Care Act can keep those plans if they haven’t changed. That was already in the law. That’s what’s called a grandfather clause that was included in the law. Today we’re going to extend that principle both to people whose plans have changed since the law took effect and to people who bought plans since the law took effect.
Another Shamwow! moment. Nobody believed Ron Popiel (although some of his stuff was really cool), and it remains to be seen whether anyone will believe Obama’s “but wait, there’s more!” spiel. The law was written to render the grandfather clause meaningless. It exists, but only symbolically.
So state insurance commissioners still have the power to decide what plans can and can’t be sold in their states, but the bottom line is insurers can extend current plans that would otherwise be cancelled into 2014. And Americans whose plans have been cancelled can choose to re-enroll in the same kind of plan.
We’re also requiring insurers to extend current plans to inform their customers about two things: One, that protections — what protections these renewed plans don’t include. Number two, that the marketplace offers new options with better coverage and tax credits that might help you bring down the cost.
As Rush says, “No, the insurers cannot do this. The plans are gone.” Huge insurance companies can’t just rotate stock on their shelves. It takes months (or even years) of financial calculations, actuarial data, and negotiations with hospitals and doctors to come up with plans. It’s a huge corporate burden, even in a computer era, to knock millions of people off the books. The past cannot be undone, but with this disingenuous statement, Obama has effectively announced, if the insurers cannot undo the damage I’ve done to them, it’s all their fault.
Moreover, Obama has also instructed the insurance companies to violate the law. The law set a deadline of January 1, 2014. The insurance companies, to their cost, complied with it, and now Obama is saying “Never mind!” This is arbitrary and capricious tyranny. There’s no other word for it. It also puts the lie to the Democrat mantra for the past several months, a mantra that increased in volume and frequency during the shutdown: “The law is the law. How dare anybody try to circumvent the law. It’s the law.”
So if your received one of these letters I’d encourage you to take a look at the marketplace. Even if the website isn’t working as smoothly as it should be for everybody yet, the plan comparison tool that lets you browse cost for new plans near you is working just fine.
All of the above fakery cannot hide the truth, which Obama slipped through the back door in those two sentences. Obama has just admitted that, if your policy is already cancelled (i.e., if you got your cancellation letter before he made this speech), you remain screwed, despite his dictatorial demand that insurers stop abiding by his eponymous law.
Now, this fix won’t solve every problem for every person, but it’s going to help a lot of people. Doing more will require work with Congress. And I’ve said from the beginning that I’m willing to work with Democrats and Republicans to fix problems as they arise. This is an example of what I was talking about. We can always make this law work better.
It will help a lot of people if you believe that sticking a small, dirty Band-Aid over a large, festering sore will halt the poison from spreading and turning the entire body septic. So yeah, if that’s your definition of “help,” Obama’s absolutely right. In the real world, some things can’t be fixed. They are inherently flawed.
It is important to understand, though, that the old individual market was not working well. And it’s important that we don’t pretend that somehow that’s a place worth going back to. Too often it works fine as long as you stay healthy. It doesn’t work well when you’re sick. So year after year, Americans were routinely exposed to financial ruin or denied coverage due to minor pre-existing conditions or dropped from coverage altogether even if they’ve paid their premiums on time. That’s one of the reasons we pursued this reform in the first place.
Campaign speech blah-blah. At this point, people are probably thinking, the old system might not have worked well, but it worked. What we have now is a disaster, predicated on a fraud.
Indeed, the rest of Obama’s Shamwow! commercial is blah-blah, which I won’t address here. Obama doesn’t seem to have realized that the campaign train has left the station on this one. Media cover on his lies works only as long as the vast majority of people who hear those lies are not personally affected. Once the president has to say to the majority of American people, “Who are you going to believe, me or your lying eyes?”, the jig is up and the con is over.
I’m with Jonah Goldberg on this one. While I’m terribly sorry that Obamacare opponents have been swept into this disaster, I am utterly gleeful when I see the Democrat political rats scrambling and when I hear the ordinary-Progressive-in-the-street bemoaning his non-insured fate or the fact that his rates and deductibles have gone up. I have no compassion for those credulous, ideologically blind idiots. They deserve everything they’re getting and much, much worse. If I could only insulate innocent conservatives from this spreading train wreck, my joy would be complete.
UPDATE: The insurance industry is not pleased. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners has issued a statement that enlarges upon the problems I expressed with His Imperial Majesty’s diktat:
For three years, state insurance regulators have been working to adapt to the Affordable Care Act in a way that best meets the needs of consumers in each state. We have been particularly concerned about the way the reforms would impact premiums, the solvency of insurance companies, and the overall health of the marketplace. The NAIC has been clear from the beginning that allowing insurers to have different rules for different policies would be detrimental to the overall market and result in higher premiums.
We have expressed these concerns with the Administration and are concerned by the President’s announcement today that the federal government would use its “enforcement discretion” to delay enforcement of the ACA’s market reforms in 2014 for plans that are currently in effect. This decision continues different rules for different policies and threatens to undermine the new market, and may lead to higher premiums and market disruptions in 2014 and beyond.
In addition, it is unclear how, as a practical matter, the changes proposed today by the President can be put into effect. In many states, cancellation notices have already gone out to policyholders and rates and plans have already been approved for 2014. Changing the rules through administrative action at this late date creates uncertainty and may not address the underlying issues. We look forward to learning more details of this policy change and about how the administration proposes that regulators and insurers make this work for all consumers.
The insurers and most in the medical establishment were on board with Obamacare, because they thought it would give them a vast new customer base that was forced to buy an unwanted product because of federal law. I do not feel sorry for the executives looking at their pensions vanish, or at soon-to-be jobless employees who have been stalwart Democrat supporters. As I’ve mentioned before, my sense of sadness and regret is reserved only for those who were dragged into this kicking and screaming. So to the extent the insurance companies’ pain causes conservative or libertarian employees to lose their jobs, or has a profound affect on the economy, causing everyone to suffer, that makes me sad. Otherwise, you guys had it coming too.
Also, some more practical info from health insurance guru Bob Laszewski.
UPDATE 2: Ace has more info from insurance companies regarding the practical impossibility of Obama’s demand.
You can feel Jonah Goldberg’s glee crackling right through the monitor, so please read Goldberg’s glorious wallow in schadenfreude here. Only by reading the whole thing will you get the full flavor of such felicitous rhetorical gems as this one:
The president may now claim that he knew nothing, but he must have wondered why Henry Chao, Healthcare.gov’s chief project manager, set the bar of success at sea level last March: “Let’s just make sure it’s not a Third World experience.” At this point, it could only be more of a Third World experience if Healthcare.gov required enrollees to pay with chickens.
Incidentally, I’ve noticed over the years that some of Goldberg’s best metaphors employ chickens. I wonder why.
I blogged about the first batch of posters, aimed at the binge drinking crowd. I couldn’t make myself blog about the current batch. Fortunately, Robert Avrech did it for me. So, regarding this vile poster and the others in the series, I point to Seraphic Secret and yell out “Yeah! What he said!”
During the Cold War, there were two types of jokes about the Soviet Union: those told within the Soviet Union about how bad life was there, and jokes told outside of the Soviet Union about how bad life was there. Americans told the jokes with gusto. Secure in their freedom from a totalitarian government’s constant surveillance, and rejoicing in the overflowing shelves of a free market economy, these jokes reminded Americans that their political and economic systems were indeed superior.
As we work our way through the second decade of the 21st Century, however, those old Soviet jokes are becoming eerily apposite – not to describe Putin’s Russia (although the surveillance state jokes still have their place), but to describe Obama’s America. Thanks to our newly acquired knowledge about the way the NSA and other government entities have turned America into a surveillance state (which implies a very short journey to a full police state) and thanks to the burgeoning economic disaster that is Obamacare, we’re now the Soviet joke.
To prove this point, I’ve copied below myriad Cold War-era jokes, some of which I remember from my childhood, some of which I culled from Cold War-era joke books, and most of which came from my readers (with special thanks to Zombie, who came through with a mother lode of jokes). When I say copied, I mean it: they’re there verbatim, with their original Soviet references. The only changes I’ve made have been to use strike-throughs on those Soviet references and replaced those words with more appropriate “Obama’s America” references.
It’s sad how well the jokes work as rewritten. People shouldn’t just be saddened, though. They should be outraged — and this outrage should lead to action. As Mary Theroux of the Independent Institute said at a luncheon I attended today, it was collective outrage that started in a Polish shipyard that finally brought down the Soviet Union.
And now, the jokes:
On a bitterly cold day in
Moscow Washington, D.C., word has gone out that a store has received a shipment of food supplies an Obamacare Navigator has a functional computer. People start lining up early. Soon, the line doubles around the block. After a couple of hours, an official emerges from the store office.
“Owing to the
Zionist-dominated American Tea Party interference with Soviet Obamacare concerns, supplies are slightly more limited than we had originally anticipated. All Jews Tea Partiers must therefore leave this line.”
Grumbling, but unsurprised, the
Jews Tea Partiers head home empty-handed.
The sun rises in the sky, but gives no warmth. Another couple of hours go by, and the same official comes out.
Americans Tea Partiers were worse than we thought, and our supplies are more diminished than we realized. All of those who do not belong to the Communist Party Democrat Party must leave this line.”
Disgruntled non-Party members head home, leaving only the hard-core
Soviets Progressives waiting for food.
The sun begins to set. The cold becomes worse. The
Party members Progressives huddle together, trying to get warm. At long last, after they’ve spent eight or ten hours waiting, the official emerges from the store one last time.
“We regret to announce that
American Tea Party depredations were so great that we have no food supplies Obamacare policies available today. You must all go home.”
As the Party members shuffle away into the cold night, one loudly says to the other, “Those damn
Jews Tea Partiers! They get all the luck.”
Communist Progressive: Come the revolution, we’ll all be driving Rolls Royces have “Cadillac” health insurance plans.
Communist Progressive: But I don’t want to drive a Rolls Royce a Cadillac health insurance plan.
Communist Progressive: Come the revolution, you’ll have to want one.
foreign Republican delegation showed up unexpectedly at a collective farm the office of Health and Human Services. There was no time to prepare. After they left, the Chairman of the collective farm called the District Party committee Kathleen Sebelius called the White House. “You didn’t warn me in advance, so they saw everything, the ruined cow sheds antiquated computers, and all the dirt brain-dead programmers, and all our misery and poverty.”
“Don’t worry,” the
Party secretary White House said.
“But now they will tell about it all over the world.”
“Let them indulge in their usual slander,” the
Party secretary White House said.
Stalin Obama summoned Orlov Jay Leno and said, “I have heard through informers that you are telling jokes about me. It’s treasonous!”
“What exactly do you mean?”
“I am the Great Leader, Teacher, and Friend of the people!”
Orlov Leno thought for a while. “No, I haven’t told anybody that joke yet.”
Russian woman walks into a store an Obamacare Navigator’s office. “Do you have any meat health insurance policies?”
“No, we don’t.”
bread a list of doctors who will treat me anyway?”
“We only deal with
meat Obamacare policies. Across the street is the store with no bread doctors.”
gulag federal prison, two inmates share their experience.
“What did they arrest you for?” one of them asks. “Was it a political offense, or a common crime?”
“Political, of course. I’m a
plumber computer programmer. They summoned me to the District Party Obamacare exchange headquarters to fix the sewage pipes computer program. I looked and said, ‘Hey, the entire system requires replacement.’ So, they gave me seven years.”
One day, far in the future, a boy in
Moscow New York asks, “Grandpa, what is a ‘line’?”
“A line? I will explain. You see, many years ago, in the bad old days, there was not enough meat in the stores, so people stood in long rows at the stores’ entrances and waited, hoping some meat would appear on sale. That was called a ‘line.’ Do you understand?”
“Yes, Grandpa. But — what is ‘meat’?”
Okay, this one doesn’t relate directly to either Obamacare or surveillance, but it’s so apropos, I just had to include it. It is, after all, the perfect metaphor for the Obama media:
To alleviate the perennial shortages of butter, The Politburo of the Communist Party ordered the Soviet scientists to develop a technology for converting shit into butter, and to complete this project on or before the anniversary of the Great October Socialist Revolution. After six months of work, the Politburo demanded an interim progress report. The scientists reported that they had achieved a 50% success. The party requested elaboration. The reply from the Academy of Sciences explained, “One can already spread it, but not yet eat it.”
Muscovite Manhattanite goes to the Obamacare Navigator’s office to fill out a form for fixing the decayed wiring in his apartment getting insurance through the Obamacare exchange.
official navigator looks through his calendar and says, “Three years from today.”
The man asks, “What time?”
official naviagor looks at him with a puzzled expression on his face. “What possible difference can the time make if it’s three years from today?”
the plumber is coming I have my first doctor’s appointment in the afternoon.”
Soviet labor official Democrat Senator up for reelection is sent by Moscow the DNC to British labor leaders in London his state Democrat party for a round of talks. As he delivers the party line on the issues at hand, one of the Laborites local Democrats interrupts and says to the man, “Look, you’re among friends here. Just say what you think.” The Soviet official Democrat Senator pretends not to hear and continues with his programmed remarks. “Enough,” says the trade union rep local Democrat. “We know what Moscow the White House, the DNC, and the media thinks. Don’t you have an opinion of your own?” “I do,” says the man, “but I don’t agree with it.”
a Moscow May Day parade in the mid 1930s the mandatory celebration for Obama’s fourth inauguration, a very old Jew man carried a sign that said, “Thank you, comrade Stalin President Obama, for my happy childhood!”
Party Progressive representative approached the old man. “What is the meaning of this sign? Everybody can see how old you are — when you were a child, comrade Stalin President Obama was not yet even born!”
Jew man said.
Russian, A Frenchman and an American Progressive, a Republican, and a Libertarian are shipwrecked on a desert island. For weeks they barely survive, half-starved, eating only whatever washes up on the beach.
One day they find a magic lamp on the sand and when they rub it, a genie pops out and grants each one of them a wish.
Frenchman Libertarian says, “I wish to return to France Idaho, where we have the best food and the most beautiful women in the world!” And Poof! he disappears and returns to France Idaho.
American Republican says, “I wish to return to the good ol’ USA, where have more money and more time-saving gadgets than anywhere in the world!” And Poof! he disappears and returns to America.
Progressive, a hardcore communist, says, “Those others were greedy and lazy. A hard life is good for a man’s soul! So I prefer to stay here, hungry and without possessions, on this desert island.”
“If that’s the case,” says the genie, “Then what is your wish?”
“Well, I’ll probably get a little lonely, so my wish is — that you bring those other guys back here for company.”
And a Soviet-style joke that came to me ready-made, without the need for strikethroughs and interlineations:
A loyal Party Citizen in Chicago spends two days nonstop on his computer trying to get Obamacare coverage for his family.
When he finally succeeds and discovers the price of his premiums and copays, he is shocked and angry. He rushes out of his Park Avenue apartment and begins screaming at the top of his voice, “Obama is an incompetent idiot fascist!”
Immediately, an NSA satellite homes in on his location and a Department of Homeland Security SWAT team swoops down on him, tasering him into submission between rifle butts to the stomach and kidneys.
When the disgruntled Party Citizen wakes up on a gurney in the Obamacare hospital corridor, he is informed by the Local Party Boss that the recently remade U.S. Court System will charge him with two crimes.
“What are those”, he asks? ”
“Insulting our Dear Leader and revealing state secrets”, came the reply.
And another Soviet-style joke that came to me ready-made:
A visiting tourist stopped at the corner Moscow newsstand to purchase a paper. He sees that there are three choices. ”I can’t read Russian,” he confesses to the vendor, “I just want one as a souvenir.” He points to the largest stack of papers, unsold. ”Which one is this?”
“Oh, that’s Pravda”, the vendor says. ”But you don’t want that one.”
“Why not” asks the tourist.
“Because it does nothing but parrot the party line, and is filled with lies, half-lies, and deceptions,” the vendor explains. ”We refer to it as the ‘Russian New York Times’.”
The last time Congress considered a government medicine takeover, Harry and Louise beat it back. In that regard, IOwnTheWorld discovered a couple of prophetic Harry and Louise commercials.
Here’s a question for you: why were Americans and Congress resistant the last time around? Have we changed? Has the media become that much more powerful? Or was the fact that Obama was the president sufficient to lead Americans to embrace a pathway to socialized medicine?
Hat tip: Sadie
I received the following email from Caped Crusader:
Trouble over: tech team arrives to fix Obamacare website!
James O’Keefe may well be one of the most important journalists out there. This time, he’s caught a few Obamacare navigators following the ACORN model (“please, defraud the federal government and American taxpayers”):
UPDATE: And here’s the companion news story about “limitless” security risks.
Americans now have a rock and a hard place. Their current policies are being cancelled and, no matter what laws Congress may suddenly pass, can never be reinstated. They are gone. As of January 1, millions of Americans will be uninsured. If the exchanges continue to be dysfunctional, they can remain uninsured, whether or not they want to be. But if the exchanges do function, Americans can buy insurance that not only gives less for more money, but that also exposes them to “limitless” security risks.
My liberal friends on Facebook are noticeably and notably silent about Obamacare. I believe that they’re heeding the dictum that, if you can’t say anything good, don’t say anything at all.
I think Charles Krauthammer may have written one of his best articles ever. I’m quoting a few select phrases, but you’re cheating yourself if you don’t read the whole thing:
“Obama to campaign to ensure health law’s success”
– The New York Times, November 4
The Obamacare website doesn’t work. Hundreds of thousands of insured Americans are seeing their plans summarily terminated. Millions more face the same prospect next year. Confronted with a crisis of governance, how does President Obama respond?
Campaigning to make something work? How does that work? Presidential sweet talk persuades the nonfunctional web portal to function?
Last Wednesday, he simply denied reality and said he really hasn’t changed his message from when he promised in June 2009: “If you like your health-care plan, you’ll be able to keep your health-care plan. Period.”
Instead of simply admitting he was wrong, he goes Clintonian, explaining that the pledge applied only to certain specified plans — which he now says he meant all along. Alas, this is one case of death by punctuation. “Period” means without caveats, modifications, loopholes, or escape hatches.
Obamacare proponents who live in the real world might admit that they intended to cancel people’s individual plans all along because kicking people off individual policies is at the heart of populating the health exchanges. You must cancel the good, less frilly plans because forcing these people into more expensive plans (that they don’t need) produces the inflated rates that subsidize the health care of others.
The more honest Obamacare advocates are in effect admitting that to make this omelet you have to break 8 million eggs — roughly the number of people with individual plans who are expected to lose them. Obama, however, goes on as if he can conjure omelets out of thin air.
This rather bizarre belief in the unlimited power of the speech arises from Obama’s biography. Isn’t that how he rose? Words. It’s not as if he built a company, an enterprise, an institution. He built one thing — his own persona. By persuasion. One great speech in 2004 propels him to the presidential level. More great speeches and he wins the White House.
The media is still trying to convince us that Emperor Obama is nattily attired in pants with pressed creases. It’s then surrounding him by a phalanx of courtiers with such awkward names as “The War on Women” and “You’re Racist” and “Republicans want to kill old and poor people.” It remains to be seen whether the Obamacare debacle will finally strip away these illusory protections and reveal Obama, standing naked before us.
(Immediately after I wrote those words, I thought, “Well, it works as a metaphor, but I have to admit to some revulsion at the thought of seeing Obama actually standing naked before me. Ick.”)
Democrat spinmeister Lanny Davis appeared yesterday on Fox & Friends to be telling Obama to ‘fess up about his early statements regarding Obamacare, and Obama seems to have tried to do so. At least, that’s the spin. But let’s see what really happened.
First, a little history. Between 2009 and the summer of 2013, Obama said a bazillion times some variation of “If you like your plan/doctor/hospital, you can keep your plan/doctor/hospital.” He said this knowing that it was not economically possible for this to be true, and he continued to say it after 2010 even though he knew that his own people were drafting regulations written so that insurance companies issuing both individual and employer group plans would be forced to cancel those plans. In other words, Obama repeatedly said “X” to the American people to keep them in line when all along he knew that the truth was “not X.”
With that in mind, listen to the way in which Lanny Davis tells Obama to “come clean” with the American people:
President Barack Obama needs to heed “crisis management rule 101″ and acknowledge that he “messed up” in saying people could keep private health insurance they like under Obamacare, Lanny Davis, who served as special counsel to former President Bill Clinton, said Thursday.
“President Obama, and all Democrats, should say, ‘We support this act . . . We messed up in explaining it,”
“It wasn’t explained well. Now, we just have to acknowledge that — which is crisis management rule 101 — and fix it,” he added.
Did you get that? Obama “messed up” and did “explain well.”
Let me explain what it means to mess up by not explaining well. We’ll use the “Orange Crush Interchange” which is ranked as the most complicated interchange in the world, for our example.
Let’s imagine that I have a friend who’s heading southeast on I-5, and I’m trying to get them to my house in Orange. If I “mess up” by not “explaining well,” I might say to my friend, “When you get near the Santa Ana River, make a left turn.” That’s a gross oversimplification that doesn’t explain things well, but I’m still kind of describing what goes on.
But if I say to my friend. “Oh, it’s an easy northbound trip through green pastures on a quiet two lane road,” that’s an out-and-out lie, because it doesn’t simplify the reality, it denies it.
Obama didn’t mess up, or fail to explain well. He committed an act of fraud against the American people in order to sell them a bill of goods.
As for Obama’s apology, let me say a word about apologies. I know someone who has never once, in all the time I’ve known him, issued a real apology. Instead, if one stands in front of him and demands that he apologize for something truly egregious that he did, for which he was solely responsible, and which really harmed someone, his apology will invariably be something along these lines: “I’m sorry you’re upset.” The notion of accepting responsibility and expressing remorse is utterly alien to him. He couldn’t even read the words of a TelePrompter. They’d choke him first.
And now for Obama’s “apology”:
CHUCK TODD: Thanks to you. I’ll start with health care. It’s probably the most quoted thing or requoted thing you have said in your presidency, “If you like your health care plan, you can keep it.” You said it a lot during the run up. At this point, though, it’s obviously something– a promise that has not been able to be kept. Just today, the Denver Post — 250,000 people in Colorado are seeing health insurance policies cancelled. Some of those people liked those policies. And they can’t keep them. What happened?
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well– first of all, I meant what I said. And we worked hard to try to make sure that we implemented it properly. But obviously, we didn’t do enough– a good enough job– and I regret that. We’re talking about 5% of the population– who are in what’s called the individual market. They’re out there buying health insurance on their own.
A lot of these plans are subpar plans. And we put in a clause in the law that said if you had one of those plans, even if it was subpar– when the law was passed, you could keep it. But there’s enough churn in the market that folks since then have bought subpar plans. And now that may be all they can afford. So even though it only affects a small amount of the population, you know, it means a lot to them, obviously, when they get– this letter cancelled.
Is there a word of responsibility, remorse, or repentance in there? No!
First, Obama doubles down on his lie. “I meant what I said.” And then Obama basically says “I’m sorry you’re upset, but the fact is that you’re upset because you’re too stupid to realize that my lie was for your own good. The real problem from my point of view is the “small amount” of people (currently 15 million Americans, and heading up to 92 million Americans) who had policies that I determined just weren’t good enough even for morons and these same morons are now foolish enough to demand that I apologize.”
I think Obama’s effort falls into the “non-apology apology” category, except without any apology part. I didn’t hear the word sorry, I didn’t hear responsibility, I didn’t hear remorse, and I didn’t hear repentance. Mostly, what I heard was a big “screw you” for challenging his manifest lies.
Still, in Obama’s defense, the information about his lies, about his pattern of lying, about his fraud, about his economic ignorance, about his narcissist arrogance — all of it was out there for the American people in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012. And they still voted for him. They get the government they deserve, and we, like Roland at Roncesvalles, get the glory of having been killed trying to fight a valiant rearguard action — with the only problem being the fact that there’s no one left to finish the battle on our behalf.
P.S. Ace also looks at Obama’s non-apology and, as always, it’s better than anything I can write.
Here’s the AP, an unofficial arm of the Democrat party, telling us that Obama had to simplify his Obamacare promises to the point of fraud because the American people are too unintelligent and uninformed to deal with the Act’s complexities:
President Barack Obama’s early efforts to boil down an intricate health care law so Americans could understand it are coming back to haunt him, leaving a trail of caveats and provisos in place of the pithy claims he once used to sell the law.
Think about the message implicit in that well-crafted sentence: How do you sell an “intricate” law to morons (i.e., Americans)? You lie!
Where have I heard that before? Oh, I know:
UPDATE: Rich Lowry imagines what Obama would have said if he thought well enough of the American people to tell them the truth.
She talks fast, and has a fascinatingly mobile face, and everything she says makes sense:
I have a couple of high school friends on Facebook who grew up to become teachers. They are relentless about posting daily materials highlighting the American teacher’s martyrdom. If you relied on these posters alone, you’d think that being a teacher is the hardest job, with the lowest salary, in the world.
I am not unsympathetic to teachers. My father was a teacher and, back in the day, he really did earn a low salary. In 1987, after teaching in his school district for 25 years, my dad’s top salary was $23,000. (Add just another thousand, and you can get Dan Savage to come and speak for an hour at your university.) I graduated from law school the same year, and with absolutely nothing to contribute to a big law firm, walked into a $55,000 salary.
Daddy worked extremely long days — but those hours weren’t because of his teaching job, but because of the low salary. His teaching day was from 8-3. Grading homework added another couple of hours, for a regular eight-hour day. The real hours came with the four extra hours of private tutoring he did every day to augment his meager salary. Also, since he worked only eight months a year, he spent every summer hunting desperately for a mixture of summer school and private tutoring jobs, so that he could pay the mortgage and buy food for us. In those days, California teachers earned a living wage provided one had no aspirations to be middle class.
Nowadays, teachers earn living wages appropriate to the middle class, and work eight hours a day, five days a week, eight months out of the year. I don’t begrudge them that. Theirs is a necessary, important, and beneficial job and, depending on the school, not always an easy one. Those tasked with spending the majority of their time with our children should get paid a living wage. But the martyrdom shtick is unseemly.
At National Review, Jason Richwine points out that this martyrdom shtick benefits them in intangible ways, and is the flip side of the disdain with which doctors are increasingly treated in our society. This got me thinking about the fact that, in every society that socialized its medicine, doctor’s status instantly degraded. This is true whether you’re looking at the Soviet Union, Cuba, England, Canada, France, or anywhere else. This is true even though doctors have the longest education and apprenticeship of any job in America and, once they’re working, they truly hold our lives in their hands. Likewise, in every socialized society, teachers’ status improves. This is true despite the fact that their training places a moderate demand on their time and they don’t hold our lives in their hands.
Thinking about it, of course, this socialist inversion makes perfect sense. Teachers produce the next generation of socialists; doctors cost money by saving the lives of old socialists who no longer contribute to the commune. The relative values assigned these jobs in a socialist society has nothing to do with their contributions to the individual and everything to do with their contributions to the state.
Charlie Martin, who has a real knack for simplifying fairly complex mathematical concepts, has a post today about the fact that, when it comes to Obamacare versus math, math wins every time. I’d like to add my mite to that, which is that, when you have no dog in the fight, you don’t care how expensive the fight is. As you’ve gotten used to, I’m going to make the journey from the specific (that would be me and my experiences) to the general (a wholesale condemnation of big government, which is the same as bad economics.)
I go to a different dentist from the rest of my family, because I started going to him 15 years ago, and never saw any need to change when they jumped ship to a different guy. I like the man, I like his office staff, and I like the care I’ve been getting there.
Because we have dental insurance, I’ve never once written a check to my dentist’s office. I get my teeth cleaned twice a year, like clockwork, and I have no idea how much it costs.
I went recently for a cleaning (you’d be dazzled by my smile) and, as always, didn’t pay. My husband also went recently and, as always, didn’t pay. The insurance statements for both our treatments came in on the same day. These statements revealed that both dentists charge more than our coverage allows for a cleaning, and that both dentists accepted as payment in full the coverage maximum, even though it was less than their “official” charge. One could say that this proves that insurance works, since the dentists’ willingness to cut their price to the insurance maximum shows that dental insurance controls costs. Maybe….
What was just as interesting, though, was the fact that my dentist charges $36 more for a cleaning than my husband’s dentist does. (If that dollar amounts sounds interesting to you, that’s also the recent decrease in food stamp money for a family of four over the course of a month.) My husband was upset that my guy charges more. I wasn’t: (a) I’m not paying it and (b) the insurance company “stiffed” both guys, so it’s the dentists who should care.
The really important point, and the one that completely eluded my husband was that — and I’m repeating myself here — I didn’t care. I get the services, but I don’t pay. I have no incentive whatsoever to shop around for a cheaper, yet still good, dentist, and my dentist has no incentive to change his prices. Either the insurance pays him his rate or it doesn’t. If it does pay his rate, his high charging gamble paid off; if it doesn’t . . . well, he tried, so no harm no foul.
This is a marketplace distortion, where there is no connection between services rendered and money paid. The problem isn’t greedy insurance companies; it’s disinterested consumers. As for the insurance companies, they don’t negotiate either. They just set caps and that’s the end of it.
I had the same situation years ago, when Kaiser paid for a jaw guard for me because I was grinding my teeth to dust. I made two visits to the dentist, the first to get a mold for the jaw guard, and the second to get the jaw guard fitted. The total time I spent there was about 40 minutes. I saw the dentist for less than ten minutes, total. I paid for the guard myself ($250 in lab costs). Kaiser just paid for the dentist’s time and services. I should add that this took place in the early 1990s, when money had more meaning. The dentist charged Kaiser $800 for his time and service — and Kaiser paid every cent. I actually called Kaiser to complain. I was pleased with my jaw guard, but this was still highway robbery. Kaiser was unmoved. The dentist’s charge fitted into its chart, and that was the end of that.
That event, incidentally, was when I figured out that the problem with America’s healthcare market wasn’t rising medical costs or greedy insurance companies (although both are factors). It was that the customer doesn’t pay, so the customer has no incentive to shop around or strike bargains. Because the person getting the services couldn’t care less about the price (it’s other people’s money), there is no competition and there are no cost controls.
My realization about medical costs twenty years also started my turn towards conservativism. That’s because I figured out that the more things that the government pays for, the worse the market distortion. The government is not using its own money, it’s using your and my money. We care about our money, but the government doesn’t. If it overspends, it just uses its police power to demand more money from us. That’s its nature, just like the scorpion’s nature. The only way to control this is to make sure that government is responsible for paying for the smallest number of things possible.
What frustrates me is that people in my neck of the woods don’t get it. I suspect we have one of the highest concentrations of MBAs in the world right here in Marin, and that we’ve probably got a fair percentage of American’s with STEM backgrounds too. But try to explain market realities (engaged consumers, competition, and distortion) to them, and you can see the moment that logic flees and faith takes over. Their eyes start whirling in their heads and they say “No, government is big enough to force price cuts.” Worse than this economic lunacy is the fact that they don’t recognize that they are advocating tyranny by applauding government’s coercive power to force free citizens to offer services to the government for lower than market prices. (In this regard, please note that Democrats now want to force doctors who, last I checked, weren’t slaves, to accept patients who will bankrupt them.)
If you want more information about government’s deleterious role in the marketplace, check out Wolf Howling, who calls Obamacare the “mother of all market distortions.”
When I think of elderly people, including the ones naive enough to have believed Obama’s lies (at their age, they should have known better), my heart bleeds as I try to imagine them navigating Obamacare, and that’s true whether the system works or is broken. No matter what, a generation that wasn’t raised on computers, and that may be further hampered by physical disabilities, is not going to find even the best possible site easy to navigate.
My mother, who was born in the very early 1920s, is a very bright woman, but she was never able to master computers. The is true for all of her friends, both the ones I’ve known my whole life and the ones I’ve met since she moved into a retirement community. My father, my mother-in-law, and my father-in-law, alav ha-shalom, all had the same problem. They were old dogs, and computers were a new trick. This cartoon pretty much sums it up:
If you’re laughing, it’s because you know someone — probably a person over 70 — who views the computer precisely that way. Obviously, this isn’t true for all older people, but it’s certainly true for a greater number of them than you’d find in the 50-70 cohort. Moreover, in the under 50 cohort, I think you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who doesn’t have at least some familiarity and comfort with computers.
For the older people, dealing with Obamacare is going to be a nightmare — and they are the some of the ones who will be most intimately connected with it. After all, I doubt that many, if any, of them have insurance with pregnancy benefits. That means that, if they don’t get insurance through some retirement fund, their policies will be cancelled and they’ll be pitched into the Obamacare marketplace. Once there, they’re going to have to figure out the Obamacare exchange.
Robert Avrech, at Seraphic Secret, reminds me that I’ve forgotten another cohort of people who can’t handle the difficulties of Obamacare. Unlike the elderly, who are limited by vision problems or arthritis or dementia or unfamiliarity with a new technology, these people are limited by . . . race, and only by race.
Yes, race. To see why, check this out.
I know I’ve mentioned before that Charles C.W. Cooke is rapidly moving up my list of favorite conservative analysts. I like the way he thinks, and I like the way he writes about his thoughts. His latest outing is a firm rebuke to those Democrats who are desperately trying to establish that the dismal failure that is Obamacare (so far, at least) is all the Republican’s fault.
He begins by acknowledging that it’s natural for people to look for scapegoats, especially when they’re very deeply invested in their own failure. One cannot ignore reality, however. While it’s really true that Republicans, for whatever reasons, have predicted and desired Obamacare’s failure, that does not make them responsible for the fact that their wishes came true:
That notwithstanding, my opinion on this matter has absolutely no bearing on the outcome — and to pretend that it does is extremely naïve. I am not possessed of any magical power with which I might prevent the law from working, any more than I am able to stare at an airplane and will it to crash into the ground. I did not award a no-bid contract to a failed Canadian IT firm, nor ensure that the system wasn’t tested until four days before it launched, nor allow it to be “built using ten-year-old technology.” Nor, for that matter, did Republicans. Unless you believe that the role of Congress is merely to “support” the president in all that he does, the fact that more than half of the voting public and one of the country’s two political parties have been critical should not be held against them.
To believe that the states have in some way “nullified” or “sabotaged” the law by choosing not to do the lifting themselves is to believe that the states are merely regional departments of the federal government and that their electing whether or not to expand Medicaid or set up health-care exchanges is illegitimate. In this case, “political reasons” means doing what the people in their states wanted them to do. What next? That “if Americans had just chosen to sign up, then the system would have worked”?
I urge you to read the whole thing, if for no other reason than the pleasure of reading intelligent political analysis that is also beautifully written.
Every one of the above statements came directly from Obama’s mouth. That is, they were not relayed by his press office or parroted through spokespeople. Obama opened his mouth and there these words were. These were fundamental promises that Obama made in order to convince Americans not to lynch the lawmakers who engaged in procedural chicanery to pass a monstrous bill that none of them had read. (Or as Nancy Pelsoi explained, “But we have to pass the [health care ] bill so that you can find out what is in it.“)
Here’s another quotation, from Bob Laszewski, an expert in healthcare policy and marketplace review:
The U.S. individual health insurance market currently totals about 19 million people. Because the Obama administration’s regulations on grandfathering existing plans were so stringent about 85% of those, 16 million, are not grandfathered and must comply with Obamacare at their next renewal. The rules are very complex. For example, if you had an individual plan in March of 2010 when the law was passed and you only increased the deductible from $1,000 to $1,500 in the years since, your plan has lost its grandfather status and it will no longer be available to you when it would have renewed in 2014.
These 16 million people are now receiving letters from their carriers saying they are losing their current coverage and must re-enroll in order to avoid a break in coverage and comply with the new health law’s benefit mandates––the vast majority by January 1. Most of these will be seeing some pretty big rate increases.
For anyone paying attention (i.e., any who was not a member of the liberal elite with his body so contorted by leftist ideology that his brain was pressed deeply into his own inferior orifice), it was inevitable that almost every individual health insurance policy in America would have to be canceled, because almost none of them would have the exquisite balance of mandatory coverages called for by Obamacare (interesting things such as pregnancy care for 90 year old men, etc.). For the insurers to add these things would (a) result in the cancellation of existing policies by operation of law and (b) inevitably force up the price of existing policies so that they contained things that aren’t insurance, but are maintenance. Bye-bye, old policies; hello, new price increases.
And again, you don’t need an Ivy League degree to figure these things out. Indeed, I do believe that an Ivy League degree impairs a person’s ability to figure out simple economic reality.
I’m running to pick up kids now, so I don’t have time to think about this question, let alone research it, so I’ll just ask it: Can a blatant lie of this magnitude, a fraud on an extraordinary scale, justify impeachment? (And I know this is theoretical, because no one would have the courage in Washington, even if they had a sizable majority, to impeach the first black president for fraud and deceit.)
UPDATE: Daniel Henninger touches upon the much broader implications flowing from Obama’s lack of credibility. As long-time readers know, I’ve been harping on Obama’s dishonesty since his 2008 campaign. I was a cheerleader for this parade, not a latecomer.
If you want my opinion about Obama’s serial dishonesty, it’s because he’s a malignant narcissist. Although these people have long-term goals, and long memories when it comes to holding grudges, one significant part of their brain exists only in the present: Whatever they say is dictated by the needs of the moment. There are no such things as absolute truths, incontestable facts, or binding promises. When malignant narcissists open their mouths to speak, their “truth” is what will serve them best at that particular moment. They’ll pass a lie detector test at that moment because, to them, absolute truth is identical to immediate need. And when they blatantly lie about a lie (“I didn’t draw a red line; the world drew a red line”), they’ll pass that lie detector test too because their lizard brains are telling them “If you need to say it right now, then it’s the truth.”
Everything I’m hearing today about the Obamacare trainwreck sounds very familiar to me. So familiar, in fact, that I checked my blog archives and came upon this discussion I had back in August 2009 with an uber-liberal physician who believed that Obamacare would provide full medical service for every man, woman, child, and illegal alien, but who actually believed (despite an MBA along with his MD) that it would indeed bend the cost curve down. Further, the physician was certain that, because I’m a right-wing wacko, not to mention the fact that I don’t have an MBA or an MD, I couldn’t possibly know what I was talking about.
I feel vindicated, of course, but it’s a very painful vindication because, like Cassandra, all I could do was predict the disaster, not stop it:
I believe that legislation can be created to change the incentives in the marketplace — or that, at the very least, we should start with that experiment, before diving into a wholehearted destruction of the current system. My friend, however, believes that our current system creates “social injustice” and that the only way to remedy it is through government intervention. To the extent doctors and companies profit from the current system, he believes these profits are immoral. When I mentioned the marketplace determining what is just and what works, he said that’s just wrong. The government, he said, is singularly well-suited to deciding which treatments (and, by extension, which profits) are just and which are not.
Incidentally, as part of the social injustice issue, this doctor believes that it is appropriate to extend the plan to cover illegal aliens. He likens the Mexicans who come here and send money back home to Jews trying to escape the Nazis by immigrating illegally to Palestine in the 30s and 40s. That is, he thinks the Mexicans are in precisely the same situation as death camp refugees and that we are morally wrong to deny them free ingress.
The doctor had a very interesting take on the current uninsured. I said that a lot of people are opposed to the proposed plan because they recognize that those numbers being bandied about regarding uninsured are false. That is, the 45 million (or whatever) uninsured aren’t uninsured simply because of poverty. The vast majority are either illegal aliens (and you can see his views about those above) or voluntary uninsured. As to the latter, my friend thinks they’re the real problem. He understands that these people are voluntary uninsured because they are young and healthy. They’re gambling that they won’t need insurance. Or they might be marginally insured, in that they buy a $10 policy with a $10,000 deductible, just in case something really bad happens. They are not putting money into the system.
What this doctor likes about mandatory universal health care is that it forces the voluntary uninsured into the system. He thinks it grossly unfair that they are not paying into the system, while people who need insurance are paying. If there were more money in the system, the person with a preexisting condition would not be required to pay as much for his insurance. In other words, he thinks that the insurance system should be a cross between an uninsured motorist requirement and social security. He freely admits that this is a government mandated spread the wealth approach, and one of which he approves.
Because he has a philosophical approach that requires everyone to be in the health care market, whether they want to be or not, he is unperturbed by CBO numbers projecting vast increases in the cost of health care under the new plan. He thinks the CBO people, being accountants and not doctors, have no idea what they’re talking about. What he envisions is a brave new world in which the government simply provides more insured people who will use medical services. He finds it inconceivable that universal health care (which is a system by which all people are insured, but medical care providers continue to be privately owned) can shade into a single payer, government-owned system.
He does not believe that having the government as an insurance provider will change the system and drive out private insurance. Nor does he believe that, even if all private insurance is gone, with the government being the only bill-payer, that this will do anything other than purify the private medical system of the current social injustices that plague it. He also refused to believe that, in other countries that have socialized medicine, there are treatments that are denied to people, not because the treatments don’t work, but because the people are deemed (by government mandate) to be too old or too ill to be worthy of treatment. As for government lists of treatment, he says we have them already, because every care provider is in thrall to Medicare and related government programs. He did not see a difference between the fact that Medicare sets prices, but does not yet set age or health boundaries for providing treatments.
He is very disturbed by the opposition to the health care plan, which he sees as the product of Republican cabals who are shipping agitators into local town hall meetings. The absence of any concrete evidence of such busing (such as buses) does not change his mind.
I explained that people are also concerned that they’re being sold a bill of goods that is not as promised. The rush to pass a bill (three weeks “deliberation” to change a sixth of the economy) didn’t bother him at all. “That’s how things go.” When I raised specific concerns about the existing bill (the inability to stick with your insurance if you change jobs, the incentive for employers to dump insurance and drive people into the government system, the government decision boards re treatments, the enhanced access the government will have to our finances) he just didn’t care. He thought those were petty concerns and was sure I was wrong. He also discounted the hidden taxes in the bill. “Obama promised that he’d veto any taxes.”
The doctor also dismissed the fact that many of the bill’s proponents — including the president himself — are on record as supporting single-payer care (which is different from the universal care this doctor supports). He denies that Obama lied at the New Hampshire townhall when he when he said ““I have not said that I am a supporter of a single-payer system,” despite several past instances of his having said precisely that. “There’s no lie there,” said my doctor friend. “Obama did not say that he ‘never’ supported single payer care. He’s talking in the present tense. He doesn’t support it now.” I said that, if that’s what the great communicator meant, that’s what he should have said, including explaining why he’s changed his mind. “Nah,” said the doctor. It was clear.
It seems that excessive alcohol consumption is the name of the game this week at Bookworm Room. Yesterday, I posted about the fact that my liberal friends believe that it’s wrong to tell teenage girls and young women that they increase their chances of getting raped if they drink to excess at parties. They don’t believe it’s wrong because it’s inaccurate. Indeed, all freely agreed that young men and women who drink too much are a recipe for rape. What bothered them was that this implies that girls have some control over whether or not they become victims. It makes them actually responsible for themselves, and that’s just unfair as long as there are men out there raping. You see, the men are the real culprits so it’s just wrong to let them off the hook in any way, shape, or form by implying that women have some power in the situation.
Today, Igorvolsky tweeted out a genuine, bona fide Obamacare ad out of Colorado:
Amazing ad in Colorado encouraging people to enroll in Obamacare: pic.twitter.com/IMpKpUZCwP
— igorvolsky (@igorvolsky) October 22, 2013
Party hearty, dudes! Drink up! Just don’t, like, you know, rape some drunk chick. But dude! Here’s the really awesome thing: If you do rape the drunk chick, and she gets pregnant, Obamacare will, like, pay for the abortion. Awesome!