Solidarity with the nuns — a tipping point moment?

Lech WalesaRemember back in 1980 when something happened in Poland that seemed little but had enormous consequences?  That was the year that Lech Walesa started to lead the Gdansk shipyard workers.  Their trade union eventually led in a straight line to the Soviet Union’s downfall.  From a trade union, those shipyard workers morphed into an enormous, non-violent protest against the Polish government (a Soviet proxy).

When the Polish government blinked, people throughout the former Soviet Empire realized that the Communist monster was weakening and could be challenged.  Aided by Reagan’s, Thatcher’s, and Pope John Paul II’s moral support, as well as political and financial aid from Western countries fighting in the Cold War, communist bloc citizens suddenly had real hope — not the phony stuff Obama and his media acolytes socialists have always peddled, but real hope that the decades they’d spent imprisoned in their own countries were finally ending.

Let’s call the Solidarity movement a tipping point.

For reasons best known to itself, the Obama administration has seen fit to wage war against these ladies:

Little Sisters of the Poor

These gals, of course, are the Little Sisters of the Poor.  For more than 150 years, this order has been serving the elderly poor.  And when I say “serving,” I mean that.  They aren’t just conduits for funds.  They go out every day and work amongst the elderly poor, especially the ones who are sick and alone.  As you can see from the picture above, the little sisters are mostly elderly themselves.  They are grandmotherly types whose deep and abiding faith carries them to places most people don’t even think about.  And to the extent they do think about them, they cut a check to charity or, when they’re paying their taxes, try to minimize the pain by saying, “I guess it helps fund Medicaid.”

Being good Catholics, the Little Sisters were in the forefront of groups refusing to abide by the Obamacare mandate that they provide insurance for their employees that includes contraceptives and abortifacients.  Aside from the fact that the nuns don’t need either contraceptives or abortifacients, to the extent that they might hire a receptionist or accountant, they weren’t about to condemn their immortal souls by providing those services for her either.

The Obama administration, recognizing that this was a fight it couldn’t win, came up with an illusory compromise:  Religious institutions can sign a slip of paper saying that they won’t buy those “benefits” for their employees.  However, their insurance company must still provide those same benefits for employees.  In that way, said the administration, the nuns weren’t violating their consciences.

Nuns, however, are not as stupid as the Obama administration seems to think they are.  They understand that, if their insurance company must provide those benefits, someone needs to pay for them — and that’s going to be the insured.  In other words, even though the nuns will no longer directly pay for contraceptives and abortifacients, they will still indirectly pay as the insurance company hikes their fees to pay for unidentified “sundries.”  Whether the nuns pay directly, or the insurance company pays on their behalf, the nuns are still paying.

You’d think, at this point, that the Obama administration would have the intelligence to back down.  Nobody, however, has ever accused committed ideologues of intelligence, nor have I ever made the mistake of accusing the Obama administration of having any intelligence greater than a feral manipulative ability, gilded by an adoring and complicit press.  They are in this to win.

The question is whether the public will side with the Obama administration or with the nuns.  The hardcore NARAL crowd, of course, will side with the president and claim that the nuns are just being pointlessly fussy.  You and I, of course, will side with the nuns, because we recognize that they’re not being fussy at all.  If they sign the paper, they are giving their insurance company permission to use their money to fund something doctrinally prohibited and repugnant.

It seems to me, though, that the masses will not like seeing Obamacare used to pummel little nuns who work tirelessly for the elderly poor.  There’s no way that you can paint these nuns as wild-eyed Todd Aikins who believe that pregnancy negates rape.  Since the roll-out, those who have lost insurance and lost their doctors and spent fruitless hours trying to use the exchange have been the face of Obamacare’s victims.  Employers, however, haven’t had a face . . . until now.  These nuns exemplify the villainy of forcing America’s employers to buy insurance antithetical to their values or even impossible for their budgets.

I would love to see nuns across America descend on Washington, D.C., for a “Million Nun March.”  Nothing would put a clearer face on Obamacare’s trampling of individual rights than seeing elderly nuns protesting at the White House.  Arrayed behind them should be priests (of course) as well as Americans of all creeds who believe in religious freedom.  Were that to happen, I think we might see the same tipping point that started in a Polish shipyard a long, long time ago.

A bouquet of stuff from all over

Quick Link and Open Thread imageThere’s so much good stuff out there on Mondays.  All the pent-up writer’s instinct and energy from the weekend seems to pour over into this day.  Here’s some of that good stuff:

Camille Paglia points out the obvious:  it’s false that a woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle.  Men are necessary to women’s survival and well-being.  The important thing, as I frequently point out, is to cultivate men’s virtues — and, as my readers have pointed out, to raise women who appreciate men’s best qualities.

And while we’re on the subject of men’s importance, did you know that the majority of crazed mass shooters in the past decades have come from single-mom homes with no stable male role model?  Guns are just tools.  What’s interesting is to see the dynamic social forces that lead young men to those tools:  my list now includes boys and young men who take psychotropic drugs, have Democrat or other leftist backgrounds, and were raised in broken homes usually headed by single moms.  Those are the types of people who use tools destructively.

I keep saying that Charles C.W. Cooke is rapidly becoming one of my favorite pundits.  Posts such as this one, about the media’s endless efforts to pin mass shootings on the Tea Party (instead of on the shooter, or psychotropic drugs, or Democrat backgrounds, or single moms, all of which actually tie in to mass shootings) explain why I like him so much.

Whatever Al Qaeda touches, it turns to shattered human flesh and bones.

Lawlessness at the top of an institution invariably filters downwards.  In Obama’s America, sheriff’s are now refusing to enforce gun laws.  Actually, though, to the extent that this “lawlessness” involves sheriff’s refusing to enforce new laws that violate the Second Amendment, I’m inclined to say that the nation’s sheriffs aren’t being lawless.  They are, instead, engaging in the time-honored American tradition of righteous civil disobedience.

Of course, the lawlessness isn’t just at the top.  There’s also a deep dishonesty that permeates the Left from top to bottom, with its most malevolent outlet in the American media.

North Korea is looking increasingly unstable.  While I’d love to see Kim’s government collapse, I worry that, given North Korea’s massive dysfunction, and the result of 60 years of national brainwashing, anything that is able to topple the Kim dynasty will be worse than the Kim dynasty (assuming that’s possible).

Good for ESPN’s Stephen Smith to speak out against the pariah status imposed on conservative blacks.

Obama’s efforts to polarize America for political ends have resulted in something very dangerous:  a polarized America.

Two on Kerry:  (1) His horrible, awful, dreadful, truly horrible (did I mention horrible?), self-defeating diplomacy; (2) and the fact that he never shuts up, but just keeps spouting nonsense.  In England’s Restoration period, the Earl of Rochester got himself banished from King Charles II’s court when he wrote this little doggerel:  “Here lies our sovereign Lord and King, whose word no man relies on; Who never said a foolish thing, nor ever did a wise one.”  Had I a knack for rhyme, I would rewrite that for Kerry, emphasizing both foolish talk and dangerous action.

Add the University of Maryland to the list of schools that wants to have all students pay $15 more per year for insurance so that a very small number of transgendered students can get free surgery.  On the one hand, $15 is only about 1% of the total cost of student insurance.  On the other hand, if you keep adding in these small amounts, you end up with big amounts.  And to show you how that works, I had a poetry book when I was young that included a poem in which the narrator describes  how Jane would offer him some pie.  “‘Will you have some pie?'” asked Jane.  Said I, ‘Just a little bit.'”  The narrator and Jane repeat this pattern several times.  Eventually, the narrator decides not to wait for Jane to ask him if he wants some pie.  Instead, he asks her for a slice of pie.  To his chagrin, Jane tells him that there’s none left:  “Little bit by little bit, I’d eaten every bit of it.”  And so it goes with trying to insure for every eventuality, including politically correct ones aiming at making everyone feel included in the insurance pie — at the end of the day, there’s nothing left.  Little bit by little bit, insurance costs have became unsustainable and no one can be insured.

Obama’s imperial, dishonest presidency *UPDATED*

This is what an unhappy liar looks like

This is what a liar looks like when he’s been caught in his lies

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.

Having been caught engaged in out-and-out fraud, Obama engages in a familiar pattern to cover up his lies *UPDATED*

More than five years ago, when Barack Obama threw his hat into the political ring, I realized that he was a malignant narcissist who lied compulsively.  For Obama, truth was then and is now defined by the needs of the moment.  If it will benefit him at that moment to say something at variance with facts as other people know them, he is telling the truth because his political needs are the ultimate yardstick by which all truth must be measured.  This pathological outlook means that, when Obama is caught in what ordinary people would characterize an out-and-out lie, he engages in a cascading cover-up of lies, all dictated, not by objective facts, but by his needs at the moment.

Barack Obama has been "gaslighting" the American people

Barack Obama has been “gaslighting” the American people

Think of it this way:  We’re all living out the movie Gaslight, with Obama as the dangerously manipulative, dishonest Charles Boyer character, and the American public as the hapless, helpless Ingrid Bergman character, whom Boyer is trying to drive mad so that he can take her wealth. (Which raises the question whether Ted Cruz is the Joseph Cotten character who rides to the rescue….)

Even thought I’m right about something depressing, I’m human enough to take some pleasure in having been right in the first place.  So, forgive me for analyzing Obama’s latest lies, and his lie about those lies, using a post I wrote five-and-a-half years ago, when I first realized he was using the narcissist’s classic approach to lying and manipulation.

Here’s Obama’s original series of lies about Obamacare, all of which he repeated ad nauseum:

Just yesterday, Obama’s presented his latest version of the “truth” (by which I mean a “truth” direct from Obama’s mouth, rather than through his official spokespeople or media proxies):

And here’s what I wrote back in May 2008 about candidate Obama, when his disturbing pattern of lying — and then lying about his lies — was becoming apparent:

Obama is also a fairly compulsive liar, something that highlights myriad other problems.  That is, whenvever he’s caught in a problematic situation (ah, those friends of his), rather than making a clean breast of it, or a good defense, he instead engages in a perfect storm of ever-spiraling affirmative defenses, with the common denominator always being that it’s everyone’s fault but Obamas.

For those who are not lawyers, let me explain what affirmative defenses are.  A complaint contains allegations that the defendant committed myriad acts of wrongdoing.  In response, the defendant does two things.  First, he denies everything except his own name, and he’d deny that too, if he could.  Next, he issues affirmative defenses, which concede the truth of the accusations, but deny that they have any legal or practical meaning.

As an example of how this plays out, imagine a complaint alleging that I smashed my car into a fence, destroying it.  I’d start by saying, “No, I didn’t.”  Then I’d begin the affirmative defenses:  (1) “Okay, I did bring my car into contact with the fence, but I didn’t actually hurt the fence.”  (2) “Okay, I hurt the fence, but I didn’t hurt it badly enough to entitle its owner to any damages.”  (3) “Okay, I destroyed the fence, but it was falling down already, so it’s really the owner’s fault, so he gets no damages.”  And on and on, in a reductio ad absurdum stream of admissions and excuses.

These affirmative defense patterns have shown up with respect to some of Obama’s nastiest little pieces of personal history.  When Jeremiah Wright’s sermons first surfaced, Obama denied knowing anything about them.  When that denial failed, he claimed that he only had one or two exposures to this deranged level of hatred, so he didn’t make much of it.  When that denial failed, he conceded that he’d heard this stuff often over the years, but wasn’t concerned about it, because he knew his pastor was a good man.  (Which makes Obama either complicit in the statements or a fool.)  Indeed, he even made a much-heralded speech about what a good man his pastor is.  He then promised that he’d never abandon his beloved pastor.  But when his pastor became dead weight, Obama dropped him so hard you could hear the thud.

The same pattern appeared when word got out about Obama’s connection with two self-admitted, unrepentant, America-hating terrorists.  (That would be William Ayer and Bernadine Dohrn, for anyone out of the loop here.)  When caught, Obama again engaged in a perfect storm of affirmative defenses.  (1)  I don’t know them.  [A lie.]  (2) Okay, I know them, but not well.  [A lie.]  (3)  Okay, I know them well, but we’re just good friends, not political fellow travelers.  [A lie.]  (4) Okay, we’re more than just good friends, because we served on a Leftist board and I sought political advice from him.  And on and on.  With every lie, Obama concedes, and then comes forward with a new lie.

The same pattern emerges with Rezko, with Obama freely ranging from “I didn’t know him,” to “I never took favors from him,” to “I didn’t take big favors from him,” to “I took a big favor from him, but I didn’t know it was a big favor.”  It just goes ad nauseum, as if Obama is a machine, programmed to spew forth this endless flow of denial and concession.  The guy is pathological in his inability to admit wrongdoing and his ability to prevaricate.

In an odd way, Obama’s approach to truth reminds me of how they used to break the news to patients about cancer — incrementally, very incrementally.  I know this first hand, because this is what happened with my Dad.  In his case, the following statements played out over the course of about a week:  “Nothing’s wrong.”  This was a lie.  “There’s a slight anomaly on the tests, but nothing to worry about.”  This was a lie.  “There’s a tumor, but we’re sure it’s benign.”  This was a lie.  “The tumor is, in fact, malignant, but it’s completely treatable.”  This, too, was a lie.  “You have one year.”  Finally, the truth.  What you end up with is that, at the end of all the lies, cancer is cancer, and Obama’s past is Obama’s past.

The question then becomes whether American voters will be happy with the constant barrage of Obama lies, and will be willing to travel Obama’s incremental pathways to unpleasant truths, or if they’re at last going to rebel and say “Who and what are you?”  And if they finally get the truth, and it’s pretty sure to be ugly will it matter?

I’d like to think that the truth will matter, just as I’d like to think that, for many Americans, the mere fact that he lied so compulsively will matter too.  After all, that is one of the reasons they’ve grown to hate Hillary.  My dream is that, no matter how perfectly polished and highly functional the Obama political machine is, the fact that Obama is still the core of that machine will be, in and of itself, an insurmountable problem for him.

My question then (in 2008) was whether voters would elect a man who lied so frequently and blatantly.  My question now is whether America will recover any time soon from the disastrous effects of those lies.

UPDATE:  Ron Fournier, who has stood by Obama rather steadfastly for the past five years, is disturbed to find that his idol has feet of clay.  He rightly calls Obama on precisely what I’ve described above:  the lie about the lie.  I agree with everything Fournier has to say about Obama’s lie, except for the very last thing:  “On history’s scale of deception, this one leaves a light footprint. Worse lies have been told by worse presidents, leading to more severe consequences, and you could argue that withholding a caveat is more a sin of omission.”

Wrong, wrong, wrong, Mr. Fournier.  This is the worst lie a president has ever told the American people. To the extent presidents have lied before, they’ve done so for national security (every wartime president, including Obama himself); because they themselves were lied to, as was the case when Saddam Hussein’s self-created Potemkin village of WMDs led the Bush administration and most world leaders to believe that Hussein did indeed have WMDs; or because they were protecting themselves from their failings, as Nixon and Clinton did.   Obama marks the first time ever that a president provably committed an act of fraud against the American people:  He deliberately lied to people, knowing that they would believe that lie, in order to get them to change their position to their detriment based upon that lie.

It’s not this November lie that destroys Obama’s credibility.  The November lie is the typical retrenchment lie of someone who was caught doing something bad.  It’s the original lie — the enormous fraud committed against America — that should outrage every citizen.

Obamacare versus arithmetic, with a side trip into the nature of disengaged consumers

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.”

Obama and his claim that, “If you like your plan, you can keep your plan.”

“To tell deliberate lies while genuinely believing in them, to forget any fact that has become inconvenient, and then when it becomes necessary again, to draw it back from oblivion for just so long as it is needed….”  George Orwell defining “doublethink,” in 1984.

“Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.”  H. L. Mencken

“There’s a sucker born every minute.” attr. P.T. Barnum

“You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time.” Abraham Lincoln.

A little flotsam, a little jetsam, and a sprinkling of malice

First, I’m gonna hit you with the visuals.  Isn’t this a great Halloween poster, courtesy of Chris Muir?

On Track Black & White

Rep. Renee Ellmers put Sebelius on the hot seat. Watch Sebelius twist and squirm like a worm on a hook as she avoids saying that people who don’t buy health insurance are violating the law and as she is forced to admit that men must buy maternity care, whether they need it or not:

Dennis Prager, one of whose many virtues is the fact that he is a temperate man who relies on logic rather than emotion to guide him, assembles a compelling body of facts to support his conclusion that, despite having disagreements with past presidents, “I have never written or broadcast that our country was being seriously damaged by a president. So it is with great sadness that I write that President Barack Obama has done and continues to do major damage to America.”

Charlie Martin does a fabulous (no exaggeration) job explaining how real insurance works and how Obamacare perverts and ultimately destroys real insurance.  I don’t think he says anything that you and I don’t already know and that we didn’t predict years ago, but I’m greatly impressed by how accessible he makes complex ideas.  If you have a tween or teen, or a liberal relative or friend who has never actually contemplated how the real world works, you could do a lot worse than forwarding Martin’s post to them.

One of the things that distinguishes the PBS crowd (both creators and audience) from other Americans is their smugness.  They are the self-styled intelligentsia.  Their neatly packaged two-to-fifteen minute segments tell you everything you need to know.  Unspoken in that last sentence is this part:  “everything you need to know in order to maintain your smug disdain for Americans who live in flyover country, or didn’t attend Ivy League colleges, or believe in God, the flag, and America, etc.”  Sometimes, to preserve this wonderful feeling of superiority, of course, you have to lie . . . just a little bit . . . or maybe a lot . . . but it’s a “truthy” lie because, even if the facts are kind of not really correct, you’re right about the overarching idea or theory.  This attitude probably explains why PBS did a report on Orson Welles’ War of the Worlds broadcast and repeated as truth the claim that ordinary Americans were so stupid that they succumbed to mass panic.  The so-called panic, in fact, was puffery from a media anxious to trumpet its importance.  I’m thinking that maybe PBS stands for “Pure Bulls**t.”

Sebelius has taken full responsibility for the Obamacare rollout debacle.  In a normal world, she’d be standing on a street corner now with a sign saying “Will work for food.”  In Obama-world, she will keep her job until she decides to leave.  When she does leave, she’ll get on the speaking circuit and make $30,000-$50,000 for a 45 minute speech touting what a wonderful job she did.  After all, it’s worked for Hillary and Holder, so why shouldn’t it work for Sebelius?  As she’s already made clear, she doesn’t work for the people who actually pay her salary (that would be you and me) but, instead, works for much more important people who also get their salary from us.  It’s easy to confess a sin when you know that you need not fear either punishment or repentance.

All the liberals are piling on Obama now.  The most recent is the WaPo’s Dana Milbank.  I’m unimpressed.  All of these things about Obama were obvious in 2007 and in every year thereafter.  Before about two minutes ago, the same people now criticizing him were either lying through their teeth when they praised him and his plans, or they were pathologically dumb to the point of complete mental retardation.  So now, when the damage is done, suddenly they’ve discovered that Obama has managed to be simultaneously corrupt and ineffectual.  Who cares.  What I want, and what none will do, is to see these people issue the groveling apologies that the American people deserve, and to promise to bring a swift, impeachment-style conclusion to the most corrupt presidency ever.

Barack Obama’s biggest lie of all (if the number of people deceived is the yardstick) *UPDATED*

If you like the health care plan you have you can keep it.”

If you’re one of the more than 250 million Americans who already have health insurance, you will keep your health insurance.”

If you like your health care plan, you will be able to keep your health care plan. Period. No one will take it away. No matter what.”

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.”

Looking for the silver lining: A counterintuitive take on ObamaCare and how it might lead to a better health care system

As we get ever closer to ObamaCare’s full launch, I’m increasingly certain that ObamaCare will be a disaster.  Employers are already changing their hiring practices (keeping the numbers below 50 or, in the case of medical device companies, firing people) or jettisoning insurance altogether.  For example, Trader Joe’s, UPS, and Forever 21 are all cutting back on the health insurance benefits they’re providing.  To justify the decision, Trader Joe’s wrote a letter explaining how things work in the real world.  Here’s the letter, which I’ll parse after you’ve had a chance to read it:

Thank you for writing to us. It’s possible you have been misled, at least to some degree, by the headlines in some articles regarding our reasons for implementing the [Affordable Care Act] in January. We’d like to take this opportunity to clarify some facts.

For over 77% of our Crew Members there is absolutely no change to their healthcare coverage provided by Trader Joe’s.

The ACA brings a new potential player into the arena for the acquisition of health care. Stated quite simply, the law is centered on providing low cost options to people who do not make a lot of money. Somewhat by definition, the law provides those people a pretty good deal for insurance … a deal that can’t be matched by us — or any company. However, an individual employee (we call them Crew Member) is only able to receive the tax credit from the exchanges under the act if we do not offer them insurance under our company plan.

Perhaps an example will help. A Crew Member called in the other day and was quite unhappy that she was being dropped from our coverage unless she worked more hours. She is a single mom with one child who makes $18 per hour and works about 25 hours per week. We ran the numbers for her. She currently pays $166.50 per month for her coverage with Trader Joe’s. Because of the tax credits under the ACA she can go to an exchange and purchase insurance that is almost identical to our plan for $69.59 per month. Accordingly, by going to the exchange she will save $1,175 each year … and that is before counting the $500 we will give her in January.

While we understand her fear of change, at her income level this is a big benefit that we will help her achieve.

Clearly, there are others who will go to the exchanges and will be required to pay more. That is usually because they have other income and typically a spouse who had a job with no benefits and they do not qualify for the subsidies under the ACA.

One example of that we had yesterday was the male Crew Member who worked an average of 20 hours per week but had a spouse who is a contract consultant who makes more than $200,000 per year. The Crew Member worked for the medical benefits and unfortunately for them they are likely to have to pay more because of their real income. We understand how important healthcare coverage is to our Crew Members and we are pleased to be able to provide and support this program.

We do hope this information helps, and we appreciate your interest in Trader Joe’s.

Translation:  If you are poor, the health exchange will offer you similar insurance to the insurance we offer, only at a lower cost.  It therefore make sense for us to drop coverage for you (and even give you a little stipend) and for you to enter the exchange.  Tough luck that you’ll have to lose your physician.  And if you’re wondering how the exchange offer you such cheap insurance, here’s the answer:  It’s your co-worker, the one who also lost his Trader Joe’s insurance.  He’s also been forced into the exchange too, but the terms for him are a little different.  Because his family has more money, he will pay more for his insurance.  That doesn’t mean he’ll pay market value.  Just as you’re paying less than current market value for your exchange insurance, he’ll pay more than current market value in order to subsidize you.

This Trader Joe’s explanation (as run through the somewhat less tactful, more biased Bookworm Room translator) really tells you everything you need to know about ObamaCare:  Employers will turn their backs on roughly 70 years of history and stop providing health insurance benefits.  That’s when the bad things start to happen.  First of all, regardless of how much people like their doctors, they will not get to keep them.  Second of all, the new system will be pure socialism, with richer people having to support poorer people in order to make it work.

Except that there’s one other twist that didn’t get into the Trader Joe’s letter.  What’s happening in the exchanges isn’t actually insurance.  Instead, it’s cost-shifting.  Technically, people are required to buy insurance or face a financial penalty.  That penalty, however, is significantly less than the cost of insurance.  The penalty therefore is not an incentive to buy.

At this point, credulous people will say, “But everyone should be insured, just in case.  That will be the incentive to buy.”  That’s not true either.  Because of ObamaCare mandates, the only insurance policies that can be offered have to be gold standard, covering young people for congestive heart failure (an old people’s disease) and old people for infertility (a younger person’s problem).  (Those are just easy examples.  I’m sure you can think of better ones.)

Additionally, in order to subsidize the old and sick who will invariably draw on their insurance, the exchanges will require young people who are normally very healthy, to pay a great deal for something they almost certainly will not use. This is a reversal of the current situation, which sees young people buying cheap policies with huge deductibles and limited benefits, while older people buy more costly policies with lower deductibles and high benefits.

Faced with being forced to buy something they perceive as useless or too expensive, the people who are being called upon to subsidize the exchanges will baulk.  Moreover, because ObamaCare says that insurers must accept anyone who applies, even if that person learned yesterday that he needs a hugely expensive heart proceudre, the wise consumer will refuse to buy insurance, pay the small annual penalty and, God forbid illness strikes, only then announce that he or she needs insurance.  Insurance companies are no longer gambling on risk; they are entirely responsible for the cost of health care.

In the beginning, people will no longer have insurance tied to their job and they will have to change doctors.  By the end, insurance companies will be destroyed.  Many suspect that this is the Democrats’ ultimate goal, because Democrats believe that an insurance company collapse will create a vacuum that only government-controlled (i.e., socialized) medicine can fill.  Suddenly, and by default, America will have Britain’s National Health Service.

But what if there’s a different scenario?  Our health-care system has indeed been too expensive for too long, and that’s because employer-provided health insurance perverted the market.  At the employer level, people became chained to jobs, destroying happiness and productivity.  More than that, though, people became disconnected from the costs of their health care.  As matters stand now, we don’t care how much our doctors charged as long as our insurance companies pay.  Meanwhile, the insurance companies knew that, if they didn’t pay, they could be sued or publicly pilloried.  Additionally, considering the vast pool of insured employees, insurance companies had cash reserves for the difficult cases.

Under this system, we saw costs rising endlessly as the ultimate consumer didn’t care and the ultimate payor had no connection to the consumer.  Meanwhile, even as prices rose, doctors were not getting rich, because, for them, the costs of dealing with insurance companies were prohibitively high.  Add in government regulations — up to 1,600 state and federal regulations in California alone — and you have a system without any price controls and with ginormous, unnecessary bureaucratic and corporate costs.

The one other factor perverting the market has been Medicare and Medicaid.  Both of these vast government welfare programs routinely pay between 40 and 10 cents on the dollar.  Health care providers who want coverage for real costs, plus a little profit too, had to jack up their costs across the board to accommodate the Medicare/Medicaid payment discounts.  Of course, insurance companies got charged the same fee, but couldn’t unilaterally impose the government discount.  Another market perversion….

Lastly, of course, there’s a non-economic factor:  Since consumers have no connection to the real costs of health care, they have little to no incentive to avoid health risks.  Some might say that staying healthy is itself an incentive, but that doesn’t look at how the human mind works.  If I pay bills every month, and my bill says I’m getting a 40% discount if I can prove that I don’t smoke, I’ll stop smoking.  However, if I am told that in some thirty or forty years, that kind of timeline is too long to lead to behavioral changes.  If we’re not paying now, we’re not changing now.

ObamaCare will destroy this unwieldy system (which got its start only in the years after WWII).  Employer-provided benefits will be gone.  Insurance companies will be gone.  The only ones remaining will be doctors, patients, and the government.  The government, however, will not come out of this looking pretty.  Unless they’ve been living under rocks (which is entirely possible metaphorically speaking), Americans will associate the government with the collapse of the system.  Even the most vestigial intelligence will realize that government is the problem, not the solution.

Something, though, will have to rise from the smoking ash heap of the pre-ObamaCare market perversion, and the ObamaCare market collapse.  What might rise is an actual market, with people creating medical savings accounts (i.e., self-insuring), and care providers charging less because (a) they’re negotiating with an actual customer and (b) their costs are real costs of service and equipment, rather than the artificially created costs of insurance companies and government regulations.

Anyway, that’s my silver-lining thought.  Please feel free to poke away at it, exposing its myriad flaws.

The Tough Reality of ObamaCare for Small Business — by Guestblogger Michael Cahill

(Occasionally people who are clearly affiliated with one industry or another ask if they can submit posts to my site. If I agree with their industry’s stance, I say yes. I was therefore happy to publish Michael Cahill’s post about ObamaCare’s effects on small business.)

In just six months time on Jan. 1, 2014 the next part of the Obama administration’s landmark Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) will become the law of the land. This phase includes the implementation of the individual and employer mandates, which not everyone is happy about.

The law aims to overhaul the entire healthcare system so that millions of uninsured Americans can finally have access to affordable and comprehensive health insurance. However that may not be good news for everyone.

Obamacare (in theory at least) will help customers receive better health insurance by through preventive care with no copays or deductibles, removing lifetime and annual limits, and providing tax credits. Experts predict though that small businesses, the heart of the nation’s economy, could suffer under the new law.

The employer mandate, a key feature of Obamacare, will force businesses with 50 or more full-time employees to provide health insurance to their workers or face a stiff penalty. There is speculation and already some anecdotal evidence that businesses are cutting workers’ hours or even laying them off to get around the 50 full-time employee mark.

Businesses have had it tough since the 2008-2009 economic crisis, here are five ways it could get worse for them next year under Obamacare:

1. I’m paying how much for insurance?

Small businesses have never enjoyed the same lower health insurance rates that larger companies have. From a business perspective this is understandable because of the risk involved in insuring fewer people.

Now though, with Obamacare people cannot be denied coverage or charged extra because of a preexisting condition. This mandate is helpful for Americans with chronic health problems, but economists have warned that this could cause a spike in premium prices next year.

According to a report from the Society of Actuaries release earlier this year, health insurance premiums nationwide could increase by as much as 30 percent.

Employers understand the importance of a healthy workforce, but the high cost of health insurance (which might go even higher) puts it out of reach for a lot of small businesses.

The delay of the Small Businesses Health Options Program (SHOP) in the majority of states deals another blow to small business owners looking for health insurance.

In April the federal government announced that the program would be delayed in the 33 states where they’ll be operating the health insurance exchanges. They will now be opening in 2015 in those states. Originally the plan was to launch the SHOP exchanges alongside the individual exchanges in 2014.

The program would have given employers access to an array of comprehensive and affordable plans from a variety of insurers which they could offer their workers. Essentially it was a health insurance exchange just for small businesses.

Since it won’t be available until 2015, employers in those states looking to buy insurance at the state exchange will only have access to a single plan.

2. Revenues have been declining

It’s no secret that the economy has been tough on small businesses for the past several years. Since 2008 Main Streets across the country have become emptier as businesses struggle to compete for fewer customers with less disposable income.

The employer mandate will no doubt add to this economic burden. The mandate requires companies with 50 or more full-time employees to offer health insurance or pay a penalty.

If a business subject to the employer mandates does not comply they face a penalty of $2,000 per employee minus 30. Which for a business right at the 50 employee mark is $40,000. Certainly not cheap.

Many employers are already looking for ways to cut their expenses or get around the mandate by reducing the number of employees or their limiting their work hours.

3. Navigating the labyrinth of buying insurance

You may enjoy shopping for clothes, but choosing a health insurance plan that fits your needs isn’t quite as fun. Now, just imagine being responsible for finding health insurance of an entire workforce.

Business owners already have their hands full just trying to keep the lights on. Throwing terms like deductibles, copays, PPO, etc. at them will only serve to exacerbate their business headaches.

Obamacare attempted to address this problem though the SHOP exchanges. However, as I said earlier, businesses in most states will have to wait until 2015 to take advantage of those.

4. 30 hours a week = full-time

While the employer mandate will only affect businesses with 50 or more full-time employees, the mandate might also apply to businesses with fewer full-timers who also employ some part-time workers.

Under the law, a full-time employee is anyone who works at least 30 hours a week. However, the working hours of part-time employees are also added up when determining the total number of full-time employees. For every 30-hour work week, one “full-time equivalent” employee will be counted.

So, if you have 6 part-time workers who work 20 hours a week each, they can be counted as 4 full-time equivalent employees (6 workers x 20 hours = 120/30 = 4).

The takeaway: if you’re an employer, you should know how Obamacare counts the number of full-time equivalent employees you have. You might be facing penalties and not even know it.

5. Small businesses are worried about Obamacare

According to a new Gallup poll, 48 percent of small businesses think that the new healthcare law will be bad for business, compared with just 9 percent who said it will be beneficial.

The same poll also shows that 55 percent of employers believe that their health care costs will rise. 52 percent expect the law will reduce the quality of healthcare benefits they provide.

Obamacare has no doubt already adversely impacted the economy as employers think twice about new hiring and expansion because of the mandate. The Gallup poll found that 41 percent of those surveyed said they’ve suspended plans to hire new workers, and 38 percent said they’ve held off plans to expand their businesses.

Some businesses are finding ways to skirt the employer mandate. Eighteen percent of businesses surveyed said they’ve cut back employee hours so they won’t have to provide health coverage.

Michael Cahill is Editor of the Vista Health Solutions blog. He has a degree in Journalism from SUNY New Paltz and previously worked as a reporter for the Poughkeepsie Journal and an editor for the Rockland County Times.

It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it — the video

I wrote a post about the fact that, when it comes to delivering a message, style is as important as content.  I got a lovely email in return from Greg Joyce, at Willoughby Films:

I couldn’t agree more with your point, that conservatives need to make an emotional (maybe “entertaining” would be a better word) argument rather than the intellectual case that hasn’t been serving so well lately.

So here’s “Family Meeting.”  Only three minutes long — I hope you enjoy it.

I didn’t just enjoy it — I loved it. The video works at two levels. First, the family meeting sees a family struggle to frame a tough message about health care and insurance issues. And then there’s the end. . . . Uh, I’ll stop here. I don’t want to give it away.