Free Markets, Free People

Why Obama caved yesterday

Three primarily political reasons drove the Obama concession yesterday to allow insurance companies to continue to cover customers whose plans don’t meet ObamaCare standards. And none really had anything to do with doing what was right for the citizenry.  He wasn’t really doing anyone any favors except Democrats.  He was, as usual, focused solely on limiting political damage.

One reason that drove the concession was the usual – an attempt to start shifting the blame.  As Megan McArdle points out:

This may be a near-perfect specimen of that Washington perennial: the nonsolution solution. Insurers are already warning that they can’t simply allow people to stay on their old plans, firstly because all plans have to be approved by state insurers who haven’t signed onto this, and secondly because getting their computer systems to reissue the canceled policies is a hefty programming task that may not be possible to complete by the end of the year. But that’s not the administration’s problem, is it? They can say, “Hey, we changed the rule — if your insurer went ahead and canceled your policy anyway, that’s not our fault!”

Blame shifting is as natural to this administration as breathing is to the rest of us.  While they take more heat, they can now pass some of it off to insurers who were simply following the law as the Democrats and the administration had written it.  Now they’re the bad guys. As you might imagine, the insurance industry is furious.  And insurance regulators?  Well, they’re left wondering what is what.

Reason number two for the concession was Congressional Democrat panic.  Karl Rove has some thoughts on that:

Mr. Obama’s assertion in the NBC interview that “the majority of folks” whose coverage is canceled will “be able to get better care at the same cost or cheaper” is also likely to be false. The higher premiums that result from ObamaCare’s bells-and-whistles coverage mandates may be offset for some by subsidies, but most people will pay more.

This problem will get worse and poses a dilemma for Mr. Obama and Democrats. A March analysis by estimated that less than 2% of individual plans comply with ObamaCare’s mandates. A Nov. 7 study by McClatchy Newspapers suggests as many as 52 million people, including many covered by their employers, could lose their plan.

As the 2014 election approaches, these people will be (a) losing coverage or have lost it already, (b) shopping for new policies, (c) suffering sticker shock over higher premiums and deductibles and (d) wondering why Mr. Obama called their previous policy with doctors they liked “subpar.” Then, next September and October, they’ll be told about premium increases for 2015.

Democrats know this, and that is why they’re pushing so hard for a delay in these cancellations.  They’re really not so much interested in a “fix” as they are in enough time to avoid the consequences of the law in 2014.  So they’re very willing to grab this totally short-term political “solution” by kicking the can down the road in order to weather the 2014 midterms.  By the time this rears its ugly head again in full, they’re hoping the elections will be over.

Again, this isn’t about people losing coverage.  This is about Democrats losing office.

And finally the third reason was a real need to get out in front of the Upton bill in the House.  Kimberley Strassel covers that:

The primary purpose of the White House “fix” was to get out ahead of the planned Friday vote on Michigan Republican Fred Upton’s “Keep Your Health Plan Act.” The stage was set for dozens of Democrats to join with the GOP for passage—potentially creating a veto-proof majority, and putting enormous pressure on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to follow suit.

The White House couldn’t risk such a bipartisan rebuke. Moreover, the Upton bill—while it lacks those GOP joy words of “delay” or “repeal”—poses a threat, since it would allow insurers to continue providing non-ObamaCare policies to any American who wants one. Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu‘s version of the bill would in fact (unconstitutionally) order insurers to offer the plans in perpetuity. Both bills undermine the law’s central goal of forcing healthy people into costly ObamaCare exchange plans that subsidize the sick.

The president’s “fix” is designed to limit such grandfathering, but that’s why it is of dubious political help to Democrats. Within minutes of Mr. Obama’s announcement, several Democratic senators, including North Carolina’s Kay Hagan —whose poll numbers have plummeted in advance of her 2014 re-election bid—announced that they remain in favor of Landrieu-style legislation.

But it’s not going to happen.  Obama has already said he’d veto the Upton legislation.  There’s a message there for Mary Landrieu as well.

This was all about Barack Obama, as usual.  It is a result of raw political calculation – his only seeming area of competence.  He’s now managed a political solution which serves him  about as well as any solution can in the mess he and his administration have made of this atrocious law.  He’s found someone else to shift the blame too, he’s quieted Democrats, at least for the moment and he’s politically pre-empted a GOP move that would have seriously damaged his signature legislation and dumped his leadership and credibility ratings even lower.

For him, this is about as good as it gets.


53 Responses to Why Obama caved yesterday

  • The poor broken child that is Pres. ScamWOW is getting “mugged by reality”.
    Good and hard.
    Meanwhile, reality cannot penetrate the Fortress of Botox: “As far as the Affordable Care Act is concerned, what the president said was completely accurate,” Pelosi said.
    His “fix” has this going for it…
    1.  It takes the pressure off the GOPers to “do something” (Barracula already “fixed it”)
    2. It puts sign-up in stasis for all but the most sick and/or desperate
    3. It adds IMMENSE confusion/chaos in a very public way, directly tied to Pres. ScamWOW
    4. It is a tacit admission that he lied about keeping your policy

    • And the same problem will occur next year. Starting in October. Before elections.

      • I mean, why not take the pain now? Delaying is not that great unless they can do something else as well, like get their website working and costs down.
        Good luck with that. The website is doable. So what? Then 5 million people get their super high rates. Awesome.

    • “I am sorry that they are finding themselves in this situation based on assurances they got from me”
      By the way, don’t think for a minute that this statement is not directed at you.

      • I fully expect to hear a lot of this …

        “I am sorry [name your favorite Democrat], I’m not going to be put into a situation based on the sorry-assed assurances you have given me”

  • “What we discovered is that buying insurance is hard”

    Imagine if “incurious” “stupid chimp” Bush had said that?

    • Try to imagine Bush playing ANY of the cards this arrogant snot nose has played and getting away with it!
      I didn’t know, I just found out, it’s not my fault, it was done by low level employees or interns, I’m sorry you misunderstood what I said, etc.

  • By the way – I’m hardcore with Jonah Goldberg on the “watching with joy in my heart” as this debacle continues to unfold.

  • .. for one additional year ..
    If there is a political reason to extend these insurance plan now, what makes anybody think that there won’t be an even bigger reason to extend them on Oct 1, 2014, a mere 5 weeks before the mid-term elections, when not only will individuals be required to get new insurance, but so will employers ?

  • Not even a month ago were we not being told by the Democrats that the law is the law and can not be changed?

    • “It’s different when we do it”.  Shaidle’s First Law of understanding the Collective.

      • I wish Boehner would remind him “You won” or “elections have consequences”.

        • “There’s a level of disrespect for the office that occurs. And that occurs in some cases and maybe even many cases because he’s stupider than a door knob and won’t take responsibility for anything while being a “smart ass.” There’s no question about that and it’s the kind of thing nobody ever says but everybody’s thinking it.”

  • Well…this will proceed to be more interesting – the House passed the Upton bill. 261-157 – 39 Dems voted yes.

  • With the basic understanding that the point IS to destroy the economy, increase Federal power, control and taxation over the lives of you, the Serfs.
    Aside from some well deserved heartburn, Benghazi Barry seems to be playing all the cards in his hand to his basic benefit.
    The trouble for we Serf’s isn’t over, not by a long shot. Crimalien Amnesty isn’t far behind, when that happens, your vote won’t be worth spit.

    • He doesn’t want to lose the stage prop Senate.   If that happens he’ll be in deep kimshe. because if it’s bad enough and Reid (minority) whine proof, the legislative branch might gnaw the imperial ankles for the rest of his term.
      He can pull the executive order/fiat/promulgation “we can’t wait” crap he does only because the Kabuki Senate ushers shield him for any House hectoring.

      • The Senate has been hiding his actions for years. Its amazing how dumb the electorate is and how the media can keep doing that.

    • According to the President’s announcement, insurance companies will be allowed to renew policies that were in force as of October 1, 2013 for one additional year, even if they fail to meet relevant PPACA requirements. What is the legal basis for this change? The Administration has not cited any. (See, e.g., this letter to state insurance commissioners explaining the change.) According to various press reports, the Administration argues it may do this as a matter of enforcement discretion (much as it did with immigration). In other words, the Administration is not changing the law. It’s just announcing it will not enforce federal law (while simultaneously threatening to veto legislation that would authorize the step the President has decided to take).
      Does this make the renewal of non-compliant policies legal? No. The legal requirement remains on the books so the relevant health insurance plans remain illegal under federal law. The President’s decision does not change relevant state laws either. So insurers will still need to obtain approval from state insurance commissioners. This typically requires submitting rates and plan specifications for approval. This can take some time, and is disruptive because most insurance companies have already set their offerings for the next year. It’s no wonder that some insurance commissioners have already indicated they have no plans to approve non-compliant plans.

      Just because the Obama says he won’t enforce federal law doesn’t mean that 50 sets of insurance commissioners will go alone and act illegally.  Washington State was the first to say it would ignore Mr. Obama.
      Bottom line, Obama’s “fix” means nothing … but we already knew that.

  • They have their socialist cornerstone.  That’s the A#1 priority.  Berry’s legacy and the Democrats losing seats temporarily are troublesome but will be deamed worth it.  Obamacare and all its consequences isn’t goint anywhere.

    • I happen to agree with you. We will moan and groan and then it will still happen. Heck it is happening and Nothing.

    I’ll post more when I’m done cleaning up my keyboard and monitor! 🙂

  • Upton bill passes – BIPARTISIAN.
    Now onto the Senate, where Reid will never allow a vote. Or even if he does….Dems in the trap.  Vote against and lose, vote for it and gut Obamacare.
    Eat the sh*t sandwich Democrats. Choke down as much as you can now, get ready for it to be crammed down the rest of the way.

  • All of this “adventure” reminds me of a story about how, back in the early days of computers, Pacific Telesis, the Bell System spinoff, talked internally about starting a chain of computer stores on the west coast.

    One source told me that it was hopeless. “It was like they had all gone on some sort of EST training and thought that it would materialize without any effort.”

    That sure sounds familiar.

  • Rugh-row…
    This CANNOT be good news for the Maven Of Moosesqueeze Tech.  “Young people”…at a REAL UNIVERSITY…rejecting ObamaDoggle.

  • Your traditional hard-core statist, surveying the mountain of human wreckage he has wrought, usually says, “Well, you can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs.” But Obama is the first to order that his omelet be unscrambled and the eggs put back in their original shells. Is this even doable? No. That’s the point. When it doesn’t work, he’ll be able to give another press conference blaming the insurance companies, or the state commissioners, or George W. Bush . . .
    The most telling line, the one that encapsulates the gulf between the boundless fantasies of the faculty-lounge utopian and the messiness of reality, was this: “What we’re also discovering is that insurance is complicated to buy.” Gee, thanks for sharing, genius. Maybe you should have thought of that before you governmentalized one-sixth of the economy. By “we,” the president means “I.”
    —Mark Steyn

    we told you so. Lots of times. For years.
    Obama made it all worse. Much, much worse.

  • Three health insurers faced a prescient question the night of Nov. 13: What if President Obama suddenly preserves health plans that do not comply with the Affordable Care Act?
    At that Wednesday panel, the question was posed to Denise Gonick, the CEO of MVP Health Care; John Bennett, CEO of CDPHP; and Brian O’Grady, vice president at BlueShield Northeastern New York.
    “The unanimous response was, ‘That’s impossible. Those plans are gone,’ ” O’Grady says.

    Read the whole thing.
    Pres. ScamWOW expects OTHER people to pack the toothpaste back in the tube he punctured, and seal the damage, too.
    Sounds like OTHER people may decline…politely or not.


  • A day after he questioned President Obama’s decision to unwind a major tenet of the health-care law and said the nation’s capital might not go along, D.C. insurance commissioner William P. White was fired.
    White was called into a meeting Friday afternoon with one of Mayor Vincent C. Gray’s (D) top deputies and told that the mayor “wants to go in a different direction,” White told The Washington Post on Saturday.
    White said the mayoral deputy never said that he was being asked to leave because of his Thursday statement on health care. But he said the timing was hard to ignore. Roughly 24 hours later, White said, he was “basically being told, ‘Thanks, but no thanks.’ ”
    White was one of the first insurance commissioners in the nation last week to push back against Obama’s attempt to smooth over part of the botched rollout of the Affordable Care Act: millions of unexpected cancellations of insurance plans.

    “Nice lil’ rice bowl ya’ got there…
    Be a SHAME if something happened to it.”


    • It’s the Chicago way…

    • Remember when the left went nuts over some justice dept people being fired bu Bush? Yup. nothing to see here, move along…
      I repeat “WITH JOY IN MY HEART”

  • Meanwhile, since the law is the law and Obamacare remains the law of the land, any insurance policy offered that violates the provisions of the ACA is illegal, and therefore unenforcible in court. If you were offered your old policy you could sue your insurance provider for fraud since the contract is illegal and you’re paying real money (giving you standing to sue), and Obama can’t grant immunity to the insurance provider — he can only promise he won’t prosecute them himself.

    Even if you did purchase a policy that is technically illegal, the policy’s provisions can’t be upheld in a court of law because an illegal contract is unenforcible, and thus void, much as if it were a contract to deliver cocaine and heroin at a specified price. You can’t take it to court, and so if the insurance company decided not to pay your health care costs as required in the contract, there’s nothing you could do about it.

    Only the legislature can grant immunity from lawsuits, not the administration, so the insurance companies would be foolish to offer such policies because all their customers could sue them for fraudulently offering a policy that doesn’t meet the new ACA guidelines as required by law (“this policy doesn’t cover male pregnancies, so I’m suing”). Further, almost all corporate codes of conduct disallow employees from taking actions that are illegal, whether the law is being actively enforced or not.
    So is Obama encouraging US companies to violate US law, and encouraging American citizens to likewise violate the law of the land? Yes he is. One could argue that his actions constitute racketeering, given two obvious offenses under RICO (fraud and obstruction of justice – i.e. obstruction of enforcement of the ACA law), which would make it a federal crime punishable by 20 years in prison and a $25,000 fine, plus treble damages in civil suits.

    • Ya know, Thales, I disagree with SOME of your legal conclusions…but I only disagree.
      I can’t say you’re wrong.  THAT would be determined by trials.  I can’t see juries finding against a claim by an insured under these circumstances, assuming good faith.
      BUT NO in-house counsel for an insurer would allow his employer into that quicksand- dominated Dali nightmare landscape except over his/her cooling corpse.

  • He IS the law.

    I just have to note that I’m getting sick of supposedly smart people on the right making stupid comparisons to Obama lies involving…well, pretty much any previous president.
    Pres. ScamWOW’s lies are unprecedented. They are NOTHING like GHW Bush’s violation of his “no new taxes” pledge.
    GW Bush did NOT “lie” about WMD in Iraq.
    Clinton lied pathologically, but not industrially, as has Obama. Obama and his Obami have fairly perfected the science of Collectivist propaganda models left for them by the Germans and Soviets, Chinese, Imperial Japanese, and the Wilson Progressives.
    Nixon lied in his own defense, not as part of a plan to take American rights and sell a mess of pottage.
    Johnson was another serial liar, but, again, on a different scale altogether from Obama here.
    There never was an “ObamaCare” in American history that I can find.


    • Yeah, I read that one.  Pissed me off.
      Bush really didn’t think he was going to raise taxes.
      George younger really thought (as did every other country going, including Saddam’s) that there were WMD.
      Obama KNEW he was lying, and as you point out, he does it on an industrial basis.
      So, Cupp,  unable to tell the difference, or sucking up to the masses by equating Obama’s spate of lies with and Bush statement of WMDs?
      What the dearie doesn’t realize is she’s helping cement the ‘big lie’ about the WMD’s in people’s minds.  I don’t have much good to say about her for that.

      • Cupp is a token “conservative” who gets on CNN, Bill Maher, etc. because she is willing to commit friendly fire, desperately trying to get the approval of “liberals”.
        This is one scenario in which I think Limbaugh’s advice (*) is sound: They will never like you, never respect you, and will use you so long as they can use your internecine criticisms for ammo. They will throw you under the bus at the first sign that you are no longer of use to their agenda.
        (*) I’m sure he wasn’t the first to figure it out, but he is the loudest voice today who constantly repeats that point.
        Witness Nixon’s attempts to be liked, with China, fiat currency, price controls, and other “progressive” ideas. As many have pointed out, here and elsewhere, the “liberals” never forgave him for Alger Hiss, so it didn’t matter how much he kowtowed to them.

    • I’m very skeptical of claims that Bush 43 believed that the intelligence presented suggested such a high risk of the use of WMDs that it warranted invading Iraq.  They wanted to invade before 9/11, but needed an excuse.  But if you want to argue that they were so stupid and incompetent that their statements about WMDs were not lies, then I question anyone who thinks that is giving support for that president.
      Nixon lied about Watergate.  He also lied about bombing Cambodia, which was huge compared to Watergate.
      For the Clintons, lying is a way of life.  They would rather climb a tree to tell a lie than to stay put and tell the truth.

      • How ’bout I state…not argue…that you can read up on the whole WMD in Iraq thingy, and that Bush did not go to war; Congress did, stating…if memory serves…23 predicates.
        Bush neither lied nor was he incompetent.  I am not convinced he was even mistaken.

        • Spare me your condescending revisionist nonsense.  He either lied or was incompetent.  Appointing and trusting people who lied to him qualifies as the latter.
          As for your quip about Congress, are you alleging that Bush failed in his job as CINC to control the armed forces, and that senators were directing the actions at the Pentagon?  Really, how much are you going to damn the man with these preposterous excuses?
          The WMD “evidence” was predominately a hoax perpetrated by Ahmed Chalabi.  Didn’t you know this?  If not, why not?

          • Seems you are the condescending revisionist know-it-all.
            Oh, and absolutist.  Things are almost never either on or off.

          • Well….then Bush did a terrific job of appointing all the British, UN inspectors, German BND, etc that seemed to think there were WMD then.
            By post war accounts, the Iraqi military believed they had WMD.   And it was always “the next unit over” that had them.
            Why is it so hard for people to believe that Saddam’s could actually have been very good at maskirovka?

          • Condescending? Only to people repeating long-ago debunked spin.
            The whole dust up over Chalabi was over years ago.
            It’s not that I know it all, but that I know at least the basics on this.

          • …then Bush did a terrific job of appointing all the British, UN inspectors, German BND, etc that seemed to think there were WMD then.

            What sort of WMDs, what quantity, and how reliable?  They had chemical weapons which were old and often useless on the battlefield of 2003.
            What Chalabi did was to prey on the gullibility of those looking for excuses.

      • There is quite possibly at least one alternative to the choices of complete incompetent or conscious liar.       Shrub wasn’t exactly one to play the “I didn’t know card” on a regular basis.

        • Certainly there are all sorts of permutations of incompetence, lies, and honest mistakes or unfortunate coincidences.
          I’m just amazed at the would-be defenders/apologists offering up such lame explanations.

          • Well George certainly did plenty of dumb sass things, I won’t deny that.  From Rummy on down to the horrendous “for my protection”  Patriot act to be later used to do short arm inspections on everyone.  But I believe he genuinely expected to find the “newer” WMDs until it got pretty obvious that wouldn’t happen.
            He was the President so the buck stopped with him.  But everyone seems to want to forget Saddam spent years with the UN trying to find the WMD pea under the shell when he knew there wasn’t one.  He played a damn good game of hiding what didn’t exist.  We can talk about what really was from the after action, but I haven’t forgotten
            the games his army played with inspectors, that people now seem to just forget because see they know it was all fraud.   That’s not how it works.  PATTON didn’t have an army in southern England and the target wasn’t Calais, but the Germans sure thought those things were true.

          • Elliot knows all.  Anyone who sees other facts than he admits are just spinners and apologists.
            I find him quite tedious at times.

          • Elliot knows all.

            Your incessant straw man attacks are pathetic.
            Apparently, when I know something which disputes an assertion you make, then I’m a “know it all”.  But when I write something and you put up a fact or argument to refute what I wrote, I consider what you wrote and I’ll admit that I was wrong.
            You don’t do that.  You thrash away at straw men so much you need a barn to hold it all.

            Anyone who sees other facts than he admits are just spinners and apologists. [emphasis mine]”

            I accept facts.  It’s opinion, assertion, vague hand-waving, outdated and refuted information, etc. that I identify as such.  Don’t like it?  Be more factual.

            I find him quite tedious at times.

            Considering what you complain about, I’m satisfied with that result.  Maybe you’ll learn to be more careful.