ObamaCare as Placeholder

Even before it was enacted into law, the writing was on the wall: ObamaCare was nothing more than a placeholder for the government's control over the healthcare industry. The details and scope of that control would be determined later, day-to-day and at the whim of President Obama. Forget the shenanigans surrounding how it was unilaterally passed by the Democrat party. Pelosi's "we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what's in it..." were perhaps the only true and accurate words ever spoken about ObamaCare by the Left.

During a September 2009 George Stephanopoulos interview with Obama (hardly a hard-hitting, objective journalist), the two jousted over whether the ObamaCare mandate was a tax or a penalty. Stephanopoulos turned to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary to highlight the common perception that ObamaCare was nothing more than a tax. Seemingly unconcerned about its Constitutionality, Obama arrogantly dismissed Stephanopoulos's "tax not a penalty" conclusion. Foreshadowing the consistency of the law, ObamaCare passed Constitutional scrutiny after being creatively characterized as a permissible tax, not a penalty. (Notwithstanding the procedural impermissibility of there being no standing to issue a judicial decision on a tax that had yet to be imposed. That was ignored as well.) The placeholder concept was baked in from day one. Up was down, left was right, and the legislation's words and intent meant nothing so long as at the end of the day the government now controlled what was formerly a private, business relationship between citizens, their doctors and their insurance carriers. Again, the detail and scope of that relationship would be determined at a later date or maybe never at all.

Under law, waiver is the intentional relinquishment of a known right -- you have to know that you currently retain such rights and you have to be aware you are surrendering them. Hardly anyone can disagree (although some still do) that the whole "you can keep your insurance" and "you can keep your doctors" "period" was a critical element of supporting ObamaCare for many. The goal was to get people to agree to the concept that there would be significant changes to U.S. healthcare. Another placeholder. That simply was not true then or now. There's no room for nuance -- what Obama apparently meant was something quite different, he just couldn't share that detail until after ObamaCare's tentacles started to work their way into our lives (and his reelection).

Next came the launch of Healthcare.gov. The purpose was not necessarily to sign up people to new insurance in time for the imposed deadlines. Rather, Healthcare.gov was merely the web address where eventually people would be able to do so, a placeholder website on par with "this is kind of what it will look like, just don't click on anything just yet." But their intentions were good, so gross incompetence that would get anyone else fired (and probably sued) was just partisan criticism.

And now Obama has waived even more requirements under the law. He has no Constitutional authority to do so. In fact, Sen. Ted Cruz filibustered and advocated shutting down the government if certain portions of the law weren't delayed or waived. He was deemed a monster. Shortly thereafter, Obama unilaterally decided to do almost exactly what Sen. Cruz demanded. He was not deemed a monster, but rather an empathetic, brilliant executive just trying to get things right. ObamaCare is now essentially whatever Obama wants it to be on any given day. Politically unhelpful? Delay it. Unconstitutional? Come on, we're trying to save lives here. More uninsured than before? Necessary trade-offs. Obama's only sole accomplishment during his reign is nothing more than a placeholder. And that, in fact, is a big accomplishment. Achieving by quasi-legitimate means what takes most dictators the threat of the sword. Just give him the authority and he'll figure something out at some time, even if it has little to do with the intentions he fooled all of his supporters with. He basically gave himself power of attorney over the entire U.S. healthcare system. This is the ends justifying the means in line with the most ardent top-down, centralized government that is the antithesis of U.S. norms and jurisprudence.

And perhaps the placeholder mindset is the silver lining to all of this. Because the law is essentially a shell that means nothing from any discernible standard, its demise could be a non-event. As ObamaCare breaks apart on its journey back to earth, whether through the rigors of reality, the result of an election, or an eventual groundswell to provide the U.S. healthcare system with some guiding framework rather than the random gyrations of a man-child president, no one will really miss it. It was never actually here to begin with. It was just a slick, plastic concept that was rammed down everybody's throat, making temporary and limited contact with the citizens it was designed to benefit. If something can be anything (which is Obama's true vision for endless governmental power), then it may never have been anything at all. When it's gone, the opposition to socialized medicine, a consistent and articulable premise, will remain. That opposition never needed anyone to hold its place. 

Even before it was enacted into law, the writing was on the wall: ObamaCare was nothing more than a placeholder for the government's control over the healthcare industry. The details and scope of that control would be determined later, day-to-day and at the whim of President Obama. Forget the shenanigans surrounding how it was unilaterally passed by the Democrat party. Pelosi's "we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what's in it..." were perhaps the only true and accurate words ever spoken about ObamaCare by the Left.

During a September 2009 George Stephanopoulos interview with Obama (hardly a hard-hitting, objective journalist), the two jousted over whether the ObamaCare mandate was a tax or a penalty. Stephanopoulos turned to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary to highlight the common perception that ObamaCare was nothing more than a tax. Seemingly unconcerned about its Constitutionality, Obama arrogantly dismissed Stephanopoulos's "tax not a penalty" conclusion. Foreshadowing the consistency of the law, ObamaCare passed Constitutional scrutiny after being creatively characterized as a permissible tax, not a penalty. (Notwithstanding the procedural impermissibility of there being no standing to issue a judicial decision on a tax that had yet to be imposed. That was ignored as well.) The placeholder concept was baked in from day one. Up was down, left was right, and the legislation's words and intent meant nothing so long as at the end of the day the government now controlled what was formerly a private, business relationship between citizens, their doctors and their insurance carriers. Again, the detail and scope of that relationship would be determined at a later date or maybe never at all.

Under law, waiver is the intentional relinquishment of a known right -- you have to know that you currently retain such rights and you have to be aware you are surrendering them. Hardly anyone can disagree (although some still do) that the whole "you can keep your insurance" and "you can keep your doctors" "period" was a critical element of supporting ObamaCare for many. The goal was to get people to agree to the concept that there would be significant changes to U.S. healthcare. Another placeholder. That simply was not true then or now. There's no room for nuance -- what Obama apparently meant was something quite different, he just couldn't share that detail until after ObamaCare's tentacles started to work their way into our lives (and his reelection).

Next came the launch of Healthcare.gov. The purpose was not necessarily to sign up people to new insurance in time for the imposed deadlines. Rather, Healthcare.gov was merely the web address where eventually people would be able to do so, a placeholder website on par with "this is kind of what it will look like, just don't click on anything just yet." But their intentions were good, so gross incompetence that would get anyone else fired (and probably sued) was just partisan criticism.

And now Obama has waived even more requirements under the law. He has no Constitutional authority to do so. In fact, Sen. Ted Cruz filibustered and advocated shutting down the government if certain portions of the law weren't delayed or waived. He was deemed a monster. Shortly thereafter, Obama unilaterally decided to do almost exactly what Sen. Cruz demanded. He was not deemed a monster, but rather an empathetic, brilliant executive just trying to get things right. ObamaCare is now essentially whatever Obama wants it to be on any given day. Politically unhelpful? Delay it. Unconstitutional? Come on, we're trying to save lives here. More uninsured than before? Necessary trade-offs. Obama's only sole accomplishment during his reign is nothing more than a placeholder. And that, in fact, is a big accomplishment. Achieving by quasi-legitimate means what takes most dictators the threat of the sword. Just give him the authority and he'll figure something out at some time, even if it has little to do with the intentions he fooled all of his supporters with. He basically gave himself power of attorney over the entire U.S. healthcare system. This is the ends justifying the means in line with the most ardent top-down, centralized government that is the antithesis of U.S. norms and jurisprudence.

And perhaps the placeholder mindset is the silver lining to all of this. Because the law is essentially a shell that means nothing from any discernible standard, its demise could be a non-event. As ObamaCare breaks apart on its journey back to earth, whether through the rigors of reality, the result of an election, or an eventual groundswell to provide the U.S. healthcare system with some guiding framework rather than the random gyrations of a man-child president, no one will really miss it. It was never actually here to begin with. It was just a slick, plastic concept that was rammed down everybody's throat, making temporary and limited contact with the citizens it was designed to benefit. If something can be anything (which is Obama's true vision for endless governmental power), then it may never have been anything at all. When it's gone, the opposition to socialized medicine, a consistent and articulable premise, will remain. That opposition never needed anyone to hold its place.