Apparently our laws are arbitrary if you’re in a favored group. All you have to do is appeal to the King for an exemption:
Back in 2009, when Democrats were writing the massive new national health care scheme, Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley offered an amendment. Obamacare created exchanges through which millions of Americans would purchase “affordable” health coverage. Grassley’s amendment simply required lawmakers, staff, and some in the executive branch to get their insurance through the exchanges, too.
To every Republican’s amazement, Democrats accepted the amendment. It’s never been fully clear why; the best theory is they intended to take the provision out in conference committee, but couldn’t do so because they lost their filibuster-proof 60-vote majority. In any event, Obamacare — the law of the land, as supporters like to say — now requires Congress to buy its health care coverage through the exchanges.
That has caused Democratic panic as the formal arrival of Obamacare nears. Right now, all lawmakers and staff are entitled to enjoy generously-subsidized coverage under the Federal Employees Health Benefits plan. Why give up that subsidy and go on the exchanges like any average American?
But that’s the law. It could be amended, but Democrats, who voted unanimously for Obamacare, couldn’t very well expect much help from Republicans, who voted unanimously against it. So over the summer Democrats asked President Obama to simply create an Obamacare exception for Capitol Hill.
And the King, looking down upon his faithful minions waved his hand and came up with a “solution” by executive fiat that uses tax dollars to circumvent the law:
Not long after — presto! — the Office of Personnel Management unveiled a proposed rule to allow members of Congress, their staff, and some executive branch employees to continue receiving their generous federal subsidy even as they purchase coverage on the exchanges. No ordinary American would be allowed such an advantage.
However, a rebellion was cooking:
Vitter watched the maneuvering that led to the OPM decision. He began work on what became the Vitter Amendment, which he likes to call “No Washington Exemption from Obamacare,” that would reverse the OPM ruling. It specifies that members of Congress, staff, the president, vice president and all the administration’s political appointees buy health coverage through Obamacare exchanges. If any of them earn incomes low enough to qualify for regular Obamacare subsidies, they will receive them — just like any other American. But those with higher incomes will have to pay for their coverage on the exchanges — just like everybody else.
Vitter hasn’t exactly thrilled his colleagues. “There has been a lot of pushback behind the scenes, including from many Republicans,” he says. Political types have complained that the requirement will cause “brain drain” on the Hill as staffers escape the burden of paying for their own coverage. “My response is, first of all, it’s the law,” says Vitter. “Look, this is a disruption. It’s exactly what’s happening across America, to people who are going to the exchanges against their will. To me, that’s the point.”
Ron Johnson, the Republican senator from Wisconsin, is one colleague delighted by Vitter’s move. The idea of equal Obamacare treatment for Washington is enormously popular around the country, Johnson points out, which means even lawmakers who don’t like it will be afraid to oppose it.
“I think most members don’t want to vote to reject the OPM ruling,” Johnson says. “But I think most members would vote to do that, if they were forced to, because it is so politically unpopular to have special treatment for members of Congress and their staff.”
Seems it should be unnecessary to again make it clear that Congress should have to obey the law – to the letter – just like everyone else. That was what the original law said, no? Yet they managed a workaround that defeated the intent of the law, didn’t they?
So now another amendment is now necessary?
And here I thought that these folks were servants of the people and not a ruling elite (by the way, the big excuse is there’ll be a huge “brain drain” if the law is left in place. Let me be the first to say, given the shape our country and government are in at the moment, I’d welcome the ‘brain drain’).
Make ‘em obey the law. Make them navigate the same atrocity they foisted on the public. No exemptions, no exceptions. And that goes for every law they pass.
While I took issue with John McCain’s refusal to do anything about defunding ObamaCare, my issue was with the refusal more than anything. McCain had no alternative. He just refused to do anything.
There is an alternative however. And Daniel Henninger, in today’s Wall Street Journal, articulates it:
As its Oct. 1 implementation date arrives, ObamaCare is the biggest bet that American liberalism has made in 80 years on its foundational beliefs. This thing called “ObamaCare” carries on its back all the justifications, hopes and dreams of the entitlement state. The chance is at hand to let its political underpinnings collapse, perhaps permanently.
If ObamaCare fails, or seriously falters, the entitlement state will suffer a historic loss of credibility with the American people. It will finally be vulnerable to challenge and fundamental change. But no mere congressional vote can achieve that. Only the American people can kill ObamaCare.
No matter what Sen. Ted Cruz and his allies do, ObamaCare won’t die. It would return another day in some other incarnation. The Democrats would argue, rightly, that the ideas inside ObamaCare weren’t defeated. What the Democrats would lose is a vote in Congress, nothing more.
He’s right. Defunding it simply leaves the question “would it have worked if you inbred Republicans hadn’t stopped it? All indications are this abomination will collapse under it’s own fetid weight. Why? Because, as I said, it’s an abomination.
Consider this from Megan McArdle:
During the design and passage of the Affordable Care Act, its architects and supporters described a fantastic new system for buying insurance. You would go onto a website and enter some simple information about yourself. The computer system would fetch data about you from various places — it would verify income with the Internal Revenue Service, check with the Department of Homeland Security to ensure that you were a citizen or legal resident, and tap a database of employer coverage to make sure that you were not already being offered affordable coverage (defined as 9.5 percent of your income or less) by your employer. Provided you passed all those tests, it would calculate what subsidies you were eligible for, and then apply that discount automatically to the hundreds of possible policies being offered on the exchange. You would see the neatly listed prices and choose one, buying it as easily as you buy an airline ticket on Travelocity.
Before I went to business school, I used to work in an IT consultancy, and setting up this system sounded like an enormous job to me — a five- to eight-year job, given government procurement rules, not a three-year rush special. But Obamacare’s stewards seemed very confident, so I assumed that they must have it covered.
As time wore on, the administration has steadily stripped major components out of the exchanges and the data hub behind them as it became clear that they couldn’t possibly make the Oct. 1 deadline when all of this was supposed to be ready. The employer mandate was delayed, and then it was announced that at least some of the exchanges would be relying on self-reporting of income, rather than verifying with the IRS. . . .
How did we get to this point? The exchanges were the core selling point of Obamacare. (The Medicaid expansion was actually a bigger part of the coverage expansion, at least until the Supreme Court ruled that the administration couldn’t force states to take part, but it tended to be downplayed, because no one’s exactly a huge fan of Medicaid.) They were going to introduce competition to a fragmented and distorted marketplace, and make it easy for middle-class people to buy affordable coverage from a bevy of insurers. How can it be that one week before the deadline for opening, no one’s really sure the exchanges are going to work?
No exchanges, no ObamaCare.
Oh, and be amazed by the usual government planning:
I work for one of the largest Telecom providers in the country. I’m an engineer who designs dedicated data links (DS3s, OC3s, etc…) for major companies across the US.
For background, some of these circuits can be put up fairly quickly, but not the ones that I work on. The ones I design can take up to 90 business days to install.
Anyways, a few weeks ago, we got deluged with orders for circuits that needed to be installed by October 1st. These were circuits to support Obamacare.
Needless to say, they aren’t going to make that deadline. Some of the circuits are being held up due to construction builds that won’t be complete until the end of November. The others won’t make the deadline due to the complexity and the number of various companies involved.
Yes, these are the same people you handed your health care too.
Soooo … what will the administration do? Well, delay it of course. But again I point you to McArdle’s point. We’re not simply talking about a simple IT project here. It may never work.
Henninger’s point is very valid. So I officially sanction Dale’s point of view in this case and say “let ‘em have it (good and hard)”. Let them have the bureaucracy, frustration, increased cost and incompetence that has been the hallmark of the Democrats and this administration. Then:
An established political idea is like a vampire. Facts, opinions, votes, garlic: Nothing can make it die.
But there is one thing that can kill an established political idea. It will die if the public that embraced it abandons it.
Six months ago, that didn’t seem likely. Now it does.
The public’s dislike of ObamaCare isn’t growing with every new poll for reasons of philosophical attachment to notions of liberty and choice. Fear of ObamaCare is growing because a cascade of news suggests that ObamaCare is an impending catastrophe.
And catastrophe it is. Let is burn. Let it crash, burn and kill this nonsense once and for all.
It is your wallet which is going to need “conditioning” for this “improved” health care system:
Based on a Manhattan Institute analysis of the HHS numbers, Obamacare will increase underlying insurance rates for younger men by an average of 97 to 99 percent, and for younger women by an average of 55 to 62 percent. Worst off is North Carolina, which will see individual-market rates triple for women, and quadruple for men.
Of course you’ve seen the lies smoke that HHS has been putting out about how cost will be down, right? By 16%. But they never really tell you down from what, do they?
“Premiums nationwide will also be around 16 percent lower than originally expected,” HHS cheerfully announces in its press release. But that’s a ruse. HHS compared what the Congressional Budget Office projected rates might look like—in 2016—to its own findings. Neither of those numbers tells you the stat that really matters: how much rates will go up next year, under Obamacare, relative to this year, prior to the law taking effect.
That’s right, they’ve apparently learned from Congress about “spending cuts”. You know, when they spend less than they projected they’d spend but more than they did last year? Yeah, “spending cuts”.
Instead, the travesty that is called ObamaCare will be adding on to everyone’s bill (to include those getting a subsidy). Those below 40 get hammered. And those at 40? Not so good either:
The cheapest exchange plan for the average enrollee, compared to what a 40-year-old would pay today, will cost an average of 99 percent more for men, and 62 percent for women.
For this cohort, men fared worst in North Carolina, with rate increases of 305 percent. Women got hammered in Nebraska, where rates will increase by a national high of 237 percent. Again, Colorado and New Hampshire fared best, with 17 percent and 5-8 percent declines, respectively.
Remember that here, we aren’t conducting an exact comparison. Instead we’re comparing the lowest-cost bronze plan offered to the average participant in the exchanges, to the cheapest plan offered to 40-year-olds today. This approach artificially flatters Obamacare, because the median age of an exchange participant is, in most states, below the age of 40.
I’ve always wondered how making everyone get insurance, subsidizing those who can’t “afford” it, and adding layer upon layer of bureaucracy could make health care “more affordable”. Common sense tells you it won’t.
Common sense is right.
Six in 10 Americans (60%) believe the federal government has too much power, one percentage point above the previous high recorded in September 2010. At least half of Americans since 2005 have said the government has too much power. Thirty-two percent now say the government has the right amount of power. Few say it has too little power.
Is this a partisan view? Yes and no.
As you’d expect, Republicans and Democrats pretty much switch positions depending on who is in the White House. But the telling line is the Independent line. It is higher now than it was in the Bush years.
Of course, the pregnant question is, “so what are you going to do about it?”
The answer, if the recent past is any indication, is “not much”. Probably change the Senate over to the GOP, and possibly, in the next presidential election, change parties again.
And then what? Again, look at the trend on the graph above. We’ve changed parties before and yet we still see the power of government continuing to grow. Will another party change really make any difference?
One other thing to note in passing, take a look at the Democrat line in the last year. Democrats who think government has too much power are up 13 points. If I had to guess that is a direct result of the IRS and NSA scandals, ObamaCare and the EPA and other regulatory agencies over-reach. Anyone who thinks those scandals, new regulations and abuse of power haven’t been significant is living in a dream world or, alternately Maine, which is about the same thing.
If anyone ever put the “E” in “establishment GOP”, it is John McCain. “Maverick” my rear end. He’s the archtypical establishment Republican and as such, he’s a member of a group that is almost as bad as the Democrats.
The House passed a bill to defund that abomnination called “ObamaCare”, a travesty foisted upon the public by the Democrats. Republicans, McCain included, decried the bill, decried the money it would cost and frankly said they’d stop it if they could.
That was then, this is now. Apparently you’re not supposed to remember all that rhetoric, and if you do, you weren’t supposed to believe it.
So, speaking of “now”, this his how the old lady of the establishment GOP is addressing an opportunity in the Senate to try to defund ObamaCare:
In the United States Senate, we will not repeal, or defund, Obamacare. We will not. And to think we can is not rational. I will again state unequivocally that this is not something that we can succeed in, and that’s defunding Obamacare, because we don’t have 67 Republican votes in the Senate, which would be required to override a presidential veto.
So they won’t even try – which is essentially what he’s saying. They won’t bother to make the symbolic attempt and build a ground swell for it’s eventual defunding or, perhaps, enable an GOP candidate to build a campaign on the attempt. They won’t try to pass it make the President veto it.
Nope. It’s not ‘rational’.
And you wonder why there’s a Democrat in the White House right now?
All I have to say is this brings in focus how awful a choice the people of the United States had in 2008.
Speaking of “disgust”, these people disgust me – this one in particular:
Striking a tone of disgust, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi ridicules the GOP as obsessed with its loathing of President Obama and hell-bent on hurting him politically, regardless the cost. She assigns little to no blame to the president (even though Democrats privately say that’s laughable) and instead portrays him as saintly, above reproach and the victim of jealousy or something worse.
After 26 years in the House, she says, “I haven’t seen anything like it. I haven’t seen anything like it.”
She must have had an 8 year mental enema then because she did precisely what disgusts her for 8 years to a president of the opposition party. And, of course, does anyone in the press call her on it.
Then, like many of our political class, she utters nonsense that is factually inaccurate:
Then she added a line that she has used before, that drives Republicans batty: “He has been … open, practically apolitical, certainly nonpartisan, in terms of welcoming every idea and solution. I think that’s one of the reasons the Republicans want to take him down politically, because they know he is a nonpartisan president, and that’s something very hard for them to cope with.”
Does anyone in the press call her on it?
“Ill served” by both the press and our politicians doesn’t even begin to cover it.
There are among politicians, certain ones who think you’ll believe this:
“Now, this debt ceiling — I just want to remind people in case you haven’t been keeping up – raising the debt ceiling, which has been done over a hundred times, does not increase our debt; it does not somehow promote profligacy. All it does is it says you got to pay the bills that you’ve already racked up, Congress. It’s a basic function of making sure that the full faith and credit of the United States is preserved.”
Obama went on to suggest that “the average person” mistakenly thinks that raising the debt ceiling means the U.S. is racking up more debt: “It’s always a tough vote because the average person thinks raising the debt ceiling must mean that we’re running up our debt, so people don’t like to vote on it, and, typically, there’s some gamesmanship in terms of making the President’s party shoulder the burden of raising the — taking the vote.”
First – what is it called?
Oh, a debt ceiling.
Anyone – what is the purpose of raising the debt ceiling?
To allow more debt.
If the debt ceiling isn’t raised, then the government can’t do what?
Increase our debt. Correct?
They can’t borrow (commonly known as going into debt) more money to pay those “bills” they’ve already “racked up”, can they?
So when “the average person” thinks that raising the debt ceiling means”running up more debt“, they’re absolutely dead-on right. Unless you plan on “running up more debt“, there is no reason to raise the debt ceiling, is there?
It’s called a “debt ceiling” for a reason.
Of course, much like the climate alarmists, other than leveraging off a horrible incident like the Navy Yard shootings they really don’t have the stats (or the Constitutional backing) to call for banning guns. But that doesn’t stop them from doing so anyway:
“This is one more event to add to the litany of massacres that occur when a deranged person or grievance killer is able to obtain multiple weapons — including a military-style assault rifle — and kill many people in a short amount of time. When will enough be enough?” Feinstein asked in a statement.
She added: “Congress must stop shirking its responsibility and resume a thoughtful debate on gun violence in this country. We must do more to stop this endless loss of life.”
When will enough be enough? Ask a couple of Colorado state senators.
Enough will never be enough as long as the gun grabbers try to continue to pin it on the implement instead of the murderer. Here again we have a not quite right person acting out with guns. Sound familiar? Yet somehow the system not only gave him a security clearance (after he’d been arrested previously for using a gun in Seattle), but apparently okayed it for him to be sold a weapon.
How is that the fault of the weapon? Where did the weapon “fail” in this? Where did the weapon “cause” this to happen? How did the weapon find its way into this man’s hands? Because the state failed in numerous ways to do what it is and was supposed to do. Grant a security clearance to a clearly disturbed person, lax security at a secure facility, etc. Gee, maybe it isn’t guns. Maybe it is incompetent government that can’t enforce existing laws?
But DiFi, the WaPo and other gun grabbers don’t really care about facts.
Life does go on, through Columbine in 1999, through Virginia Tech in 2007, through Sandy Hook in 2012. Each atrocity provides a jolt to the nation and then recedes with little effect, until the next unimaginable event occurs, except each time a little more imaginable. Everything was supposed to change after a man with a semiautomatic weapon mowed down 20 elementary school children in their classrooms last December. But for the politicians, nothing changed. Now, another massacre, another roster of funerals. Again, again, again.
Anyone notice the one similarity in all these events? Everyone of them took place in a “gun free” zone. And what else do you notice about each? And in each one, the state did a bang up job of protecting everyone in them, didn’t it?
DiFi comes from a long line of those who find freedom messy and dangerous and would prefer the orderly and safe haven of state authority instead (with her in charge, of course – and exempted from her own rules). And she wouldn’t at all mind imposing her utopia on you – by force if necessary.
I think Marc Thiessen pens a fairly succinct one in today’s Washington Post:
We’re conducting foreign policy by faux pas. This entire episode has been driven not by deliberate strategy but by slips of the tongue. Obama’s declaration of a “red line” on chemical weapons was a slip of the tongue. So was Secretary of State John Kerry’s offer to have Syria give up its chemical weapons. There is no plan, no coherence to anything this administration is doing on Syria.
More embarrassing still, Obama is actually claiming that the diplomatic “breakthrough” is the result of his administration’s show of strength.
Was it a show of strength when Obama went to the world’s nations and asked them to join him in enforcing “their” red line — finding only one country (France) ready to do so? Or when the British parliament rejected military action for the first time since the 1700s? Or when a U.S. official told the Los Angeles Times that any U.S. strike would be “just muscular enough not to get mocked”? Or when Kerry declared that any strike would be “unbelievably small” and would not really constitute “war”? Or when Obama used his prime-time, nationally televised address to call on Congress to do . . . nothing?
That’s not a show of strength. That’s an embarrassment.
Foreign policy by faux pas. You have to cringe at that one. But it is certainly the truth.
The idea that this sequence of events led Syria’s Bashar al-Assad to cower and agree to hand over his chemical weapons is laughable. Russia and Syria are playing us. And the administration, which was about to lose a vote in Congress, latched on to this diplomatic “solution” to save face.
It’s supposed to be the president of the United States who gives a dictator a face-saving way out, not the other way around. The sad fact is Obama needed this way out more than Assad.
To claim otherwise is simply laughable. And, added into all of this, it gave Assad room to do whatever it is he thinks he needs to do (not to mention legitimacy as Syria’s leader) and a chance to add his own condition to the mix – that the US stop supplying the rebels with arms. Watch for that to come into play at some point in the “negotiations”.
As the Wall Street Journal says when describing the debacle:
Through mixed messages, miscalculations and an 11th-hour break, the U.S. stumbled into an international crisis and then stumbled out of it. A president who made a goal of reducing the U.S.’s role as global cop lurched from the brink of launching strikes to seeking congressional approval to embracing a deal with his biggest international adversary on Syria, Russian President Vladimir Putin.
And here we are. The clown car remains full and, unfortunately, will be leading the circus for the next 3 plus years. Hold on to your hats (and wallets).
P.S. and no we won’t be saying anything about the shootings, er “workplace violence”, at the Navy Yard in DC until a whole lot more information comes in.
Michael Gerson, writing in the Washington Post, absolutely nails the magnitude of the debacle the Obama administration has suffered and the reason:
Sometimes a president does not have a communications problem. Sometimes a president has a reality problem.
President Obama’s speech to the nation on Syria was premised on the denial of reality. He claimed that the Russian/Syrian initiative resulted from the “credible threat of U.S. military action.” In fact, it filled a vacuum of presidential credibility. Obama had been isolated within the G-20 and abandoned by our closest ally, Britain. Americans overwhelmingly disapproved of a military strike for which the president clearly had no stomach. Obama was on the verge of the most devastating congressional foreign policy repudiation since the Senate voted 49-35 against entering the League of Nations in 1920.
This president’s biggest problem, other than a total lack of leadership ability, has been reality all along. He’s always believed he simply has to speak and others will follow. Yet, in reality he’s done precisely what Gerson claims he’s done – isolate himself and the US. He has no close relationships internationally. Our closest ally in everything we’ve done for centuries has abandoned us. His credibility in the Middle East is hovering close to zero. His “reset” policy with Russia has been a disaster. And he remains reactive and indecisive at place in history that calls for decisiveness and leadership. Consequently another nation is moving to take that lead he’s abandoned.
Vladimir Putin offered Obama an escape, which he gratefully took. But there are implicit costs. A U.S. military strike — something Putin thought inevitable just a few weeks ago — is off. Russia’s Syrian client, Bashar al-Assad, stays in power. The Syrian opposition is effectively hung out to dry. Russia gains a position of influence in the Middle East it has not held since Anwar Sadat threw the Soviets out of Egypt. This allows Moscow to supply proxies such as Syria and Iran with weapons while positioning itself as the defender of international law and peace. Iran sees that the United States is a reluctant power, with a timid and polarized legislature, that can easily be deflected from action by transparent maneuvers.
Other than this, ’twas a famous victory.
Speaking of credibility, to watch the spin-meisters attempt to call this a “famous victory” shreds what little they may still enjoy. No one grounded in reality and at all concerned with their credibility would declare this any sort of a ‘victory’ for the US.
But hey we had a speech …
The resulting message was boldly mixed. Assad is a moral monster — who is now our partner in negotiations. The consequences would be terrible “if we fail to act” — which now seems the most likely course. America “doesn’t do pinpricks” — especially when it does not do anything. “The burdens of leadership are often heavy” — unless they are not assumed.
And here we are. A shrunken giant, leaderless and adrift. “Led” by an incompetent with coming negotiations headed by another incompetent (Kerry), both of whom have been badly played by the Russians and the Syrians. There’s no reason to believe they won’t come out on the short end of this deal either.
As for the planned, then unplanned, then delayed, then put on indefinite hold strike that Kerry claims is the reason Syria came to the table – Charles Krauthammer lays that out for you:
That “strike Syria, maybe” speech begins with a heart-rending account of children consigned to a terrible death by a monster dropping poison gas. It proceeds to explain why such behavior must be punished. It culminates with the argument that the proper response — the most effective way to uphold fundamental norms, indeed human decency — is a flea bite: something “limited,” “targeted” or, as so memorably described by Secretary of State John Kerry, “unbelievably small.”
“Unbelievably small”. Likely had ‘em shaking in their boots in Damascus.
Krauthammer also sums up the “deal” Obama et. al. are now trying to claim was their idea all along (not that anyone but the most gullible or partisan or both are buying that):
The hinge of the entire Russian strategy is saving the Assad regime. That’s the very purpose of the “Russian proposal.” Imagine that some supposed arms-control protocol is worked out. The inspectors have to be vetted by Assad, protected by Assad, convoyed by Assad, directed by Assad to every destination. Negotiation, inspection, identification, accounting, transport and safety would require constant cooperation with the regime, and thus acknowledgment of its sovereignty and legitimacy.
So much for Obama’s repeated insistence that Assad must go. Indeed, Putin has openly demandedthat any negotiation be conditioned on a U.S. commitment to forswear the use of force against Assad. On Thursday, Assad repeated that demand, warning that without an American pledge not to attack and not to arm the rebels, his government would agree to nothing.
This would abolish the very possibility of America tilting the order of battle in a Syrian war that Assad is now winning thanks to Russian arms, Iranian advisers and Lebanese Hezbollah shock troops. Putin thus assures the survival of his Syrian client and the continued ascendancy of the anti-Western Iranian bloc.
And what does America get? Obama saves face.
Indeed … some deal.
All of that said, it may end up being the “best” deal we could hope for given the ineptness and incompetence of this administration. Back to Gerson:
I am relieved that President Obama was given a reprieve from a devastating rejection by Congress, which would have wounded the presidency itself. We should hope (against hope) that a negotiation with Putin, Assad and the U.N. Security Council to establish international control of the world’s third-largest chemical weapons stockpile in the middle of a civil war is successful. And Congress should seek ways to strengthen Obama’s hand in negotiations.
But this remains a sad moment for the United States. We have seen a Putin power play, based on a Kerry gaffe, leading to a face-saving presidential retreat — and this was apparently the best of the available options.
Pretty bad when this is the best outcome one could hope for … a degree of face saving for a less that satisfactory president who still doesn’t realize how badly he was bested.