'Racist' President Says Now You can Keep Your 'Substandard Insurance'
In ancient times were a ruler to have mismanaged everything as badly as has Obama, stonemasons would start gathering near the palace in anticipation of being hired to chisel the ruler's name and visage off all public buildings and temples, funerary garb purveyors would be spreading their wares out in the public square, and the top viziers would be stirring a special concoction for him to drink to bring his disastrous reign to a quick end.
We don't do things that way, so Obama, his party, and the country if not the world, will watch his power dissolve and the chaos he used to thrive on now overwhelm us all. We have, however, the -- to me -- happy pleasure of watching the arrogant press's favorite party face humiliating and ruinous exposure as know-nothings who lied, covered up, ignored normal legislative procedures, constitutional law, public sentiment, math, technology, and common sense.
Just a few days ago the president's defenders were calling his critics "racists" and claiming ObamaCare was merely allowing us to get rid of our "substandard health insurance" for better plans our betters, the Democrat leadership, thought we should have. Thursday he offered up a purported rollback fix announcing, incredibly "we are discovering that insurance is complicated to buy...."
His right-hand gal, the party's own Norma Desmond, Nancy Pelosi, about whom Joshua Sharf says: "I *am* big. It's my caucus that got small," is standing firm, though her caucus is running for the hills as waves of angry voters strike out.
The purported "fix" to allow voters to keep the insurance that the administration ordered them to cancel is so unworkable, the insurance commissioners of South Carolina and Washington State both turned the proposition down almost as soon as the president made it.
Even Howard Dean questioned whether the president can legally do this, though I don't recall him saying a word when this train wreck started down the track through procedures which ignored decades of Congressional practice and procedure and when the president tossed off waivers to his friends and allowed HHS to draft regulations that were directly in conflict with the promises he was repeatedly making to voters and even the clear language of the Act. (This, as his spokesmen were arguing that ObamaCare was "settled law" which could not be altered or repealed.)
More weighty than Dean's second thoughts, however, were those of legal scholars like Professor Eugene Kontorovich, a real constitutional law professor from Northwestern University (as opposed to Obama, the part-time lecturer at the University of Chicago).
President Obama in his speech on "fixing" the Affordable Care Act today did not specify what statutory authority, if any, he thinks authorizes him to make such dictats. Given the gargantuan length of the ObamaCare statute, he might still be looking. Press reports say the President is claiming a broad "enforcement discretion."
It is true that the Chief Executive has some room to decide how strongly to enforce a law, and the timing of enforcement. But here, Obama is apparently suspending the enforcement of a law for a year -- simply to head off actual legislation not to his liking. Congress is working on legislation quite similar to the president's fix, but with differences he considers objectionable. This further demonstrates the primarily legislative nature of the fix.
Indeed, the fix goes far beyond "non-enforcement" because it requires insurers to certain new action to enjoy the delay. This is thus not simply a delay, but a new law.
The "fix" amounts to new legislation -- but enacted without Congress. The President has no constitutional authority to rewrite statutes, especially in ways that impose new obligations on people, and that is what the fix seems to entail. And of course, this is not the first such extra-statutory suspension of key ObamaCare provisions.
UPDATE: Here is the text of the administration's letter describing the fix.
The legal problems are no bigger than the practical and political problems of Obamacare and the man who viewed this as his signature achievement:
Normally insurance companies take months to set up plans, negotiate with network providers, get state insurance commissioners to sign off on the proposed rates, and then do a bit of marketing. Now they have until December 15 for customers whose plans are cancelled as of Jan 1. But hey, don't blame Obamacare! It has only been the law for three years now; if insurance companies really thought it would go into effect and acted accordingly, well, psych!
Experts indicate even the mechanical issue of the website will not -- cannot -- be fixed by Obama's latest promised date, December 1. See:
The well-documented critiques of the front-end and back-end software on HealthCare.gov beg the question of whether this critical site was properly designed -- or, even worse, designed at all.
It has been reported that the front end was designed with an agile process; unfortunately, most agile processes reject and discourage "big design up front." In a nutshell, many agile processes -- and especially extreme programming -- reject the big design phase as part and parcel of rejecting the waterfall methodology. Agile processes follow more of an "organic" software development, where developers start coding the smallest increment possible and "grow" the working software up, little by little, with constant customer feedback. These agile methodologies call for "user stories" to design each small increment of the system being developed. To be fair, agile can work for some software projects, but I assert that it is the kiss of death for projects with many moving parts, multiple organizations and complex interactions.
And then there are the political issues, Pelosi's continued optimistic predictions aside. Kimberley Strassel lays out the devastating political wreckage facing the Democrats:
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.
And the White House "fix" doesn't save Democrats from having to take a vote on the Upton bill. A yes vote is a strike at the president and an admission that the law Democrats passed is failing. A no vote is tailor-made for political attack ads and requires a nuanced explanation of why the president's "fix" is better than Upton's. Which it isn't.
There remain some diehard believers in the efficacy of an even larger federal role in our lives and health care even if they lightly acknowledge the president just might have "misspoke" or failed to act as a competent executive. For example, the New York Times, whom Professor Althouse flays here.
But I believe the president's tardy apology for creating chaos in at least one-sixth of the U.S. economy is about as effective as the Syrian Al-Qaeda members who videoed an apology for beheading the wrong guy.
The poor man is dead. The apology is useless, and in that same way, the persons who lost their jobs, whose incomes were reduced, who face periods of time with no health insurance coverage of their choosing, who will face a larger tax burden, or who are committed to pay much higher premiums now, have suffered irretrievable losses. Some may even die as their treatment for serious health issues -- like cancer -- were suspended with the loss of their coverage.
Fouad Ajami compares Obama's rise and fall to those of a number of Middle Eastern rulers. He's seen this play about charismatic but incompetent leaders before:
Five years on, we can still recall how the Obama coalition was formed. There were the African-Americans justifiably proud of one of their own. There were upper-class white professionals who were drawn to the candidate's "cool." There were Latinos swayed by the promise of immigration reform. The white working class in the Rust Belt was the last bloc to embrace Mr. Obama -- he wasn't one of them, but they put their reservations aside during an economic storm and voted for the redistributive state and its protections. There were no economic or cultural bonds among this coalition. There was the new leader, all things to all people.
A nemesis awaited the promise of this new presidency: Mr. Obama would turn out to be among the most polarizing of American leaders. No, it wasn't his race, as Harry Reid would contend, that stirred up the opposition to him. It was his exalted views of himself, and his mission. The sharp lines were sharp between those who raised his banners and those who objected to his policies.
America holds presidential elections, we know. But Mr. Obama took his victory as a plebiscite on his reading of the American social contract. A president who constantly reminded his critics that he had won at the ballot box was bound to deepen the opposition of his critics.
A leader who set out to remake the health-care system in the country, a sixth of the national economy, on a razor-thin majority with no support whatsoever from the opposition party, misunderstood the nature of democratic politics. An election victory is the beginning of things, not the culmination. With Air Force One and the other prerogatives of office come the need for compromise, and for the disputations of democracy. A president who sought consensus would have never left his agenda on Capitol Hill in the hands of Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi.
If Barack Obama seems like a man alone, with nervous Democrats up for re-election next year running for cover, and away from him, this was the world he made. No advisers of stature can question his policies; the price of access in the Obama court is quiescence before the leader's will. The imperial presidency is in full bloom.
There are no stars in the Obama cabinet today, men and women of independent stature and outlook.
I resist amateur psychological analyses but it is hard to ignore the President's narcissistic pathology, and, if this is the case, as he is cornered he is only more dangerous than ever. Iowahawk's nailed it I think:
David Burge @iowahawkblog
"Let's not argue whose idea it was to bring the Jarts and tequila. We need to all work together to fix the hole in this guy's head."