The Audacity Of Blame

Molly:     I take it you’re a feminist.

Roy:        I’ve been called many things, but I ain’t never been saddled with that one.

Molly:      You should try being saddled sometime; smell of leather, sting of a whip.

        —Rene Russo as Dr. Molly Griswold, and Kevin Costner as Roy “Tin Cup” McAvoy in Tin Cup

 

If you like watching the Progressive Left fail and flail, FUBARCare is already proving to be the gift that keeps on giving.  In recent developments: 

  • HHS’ Henry Chao testified before Congress that 30% to 40% of the FUBARCare website hasn’t even been built yet, including the mechanisms to allow you to pay for your new medical insurance policy (thus ensuring that you are actually covered), despite the law having been passed nearly four years ago, scheduled for launch October 1 (some 7 weeks ago), and the policy requirements taking effect 40 days from today;
  • Several cybersecurity experts testified before Congress that the website has major security flaws and is so badly at risk that it should be shut down;
  • The Leftist and cyber-savvy People’s State of Oregon has signed up exactly zero people on its State exchange to date;
  • A single mother in Washington State whom Obama hailed as an anecdotal FUBARCare success story had to drop her new coverage after changes in her subsidy made it unaffordable; and my personal favorite:
  • The website crashed on HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius when she tried to help a woman sign up during a staged-for-the-media event in Miami.

And that’s just some of the headlines from the last couple of days. 

CBS News, of all places, now reports Obama’s approval rating at 37% and dropping, while 61% now disapprove of FUBARCare.  Both are all-time lows.  7% somehow manage to say they think FUBARCare is working well, but I’ll bet you dollars-to-donuts 99% of them don’t know what it is, and the other 1% are Congressional Democrats.  Fully on the defensive, Obama on Tuesday amazingly actually had the steel kiwis to try to blame all the problems with FUBARCare on the Republicans

Are you kidding me?  The Republicans are to blame for FUBARCare?  Really?

Even for Obama, that level of impudence in refusing to accept responsibility for anything is breathtaking.  I’m half surprised he isn’t trying to blame George Bush specifically.  But, following up on a post from last week, here is where the GOP needs to ramp up its messaging and hoist Obama and the Democrats on their own petard.

I would launch a media blitz making sure the public understands what’s going on with this thing and who owns it.  First, I would stop calling it “Obamacare” and refer to it as “DemocratCare” (I prefer my “FUBARCare” label, but that won’t work for this purpose).  Then I would take to every conceivable media outlet and even take out TV time to point out:

  • Not one Republican participated in the drafting of DemocratCare—the Democrats wouldn’t permit it;
  • Not one Republican voted to pass DemocratCare—to the contrary, they did just about everything they could to prevent it;
  • Not one Republican participated in creating the tens of thousands of pages of regulations implementing DemocratCare;
  • Not a single Republican in Congress participated in the creation—or lack thereof—of the failing website, nor are they the ones crashing it;
  • Republican governors sued to try to stop DemocratCare;
  • Republicans in Congress tried to repeal DemocratCare–the Democrats in the Senate wouldn’t even take up debate;
  • Republicans in Congress tried to stop DemocratCare by defunding it—the Democrats shut down the government until that effort was ended; and
  • Republicans in Congress tried to delay DemocratCare—the Democrats refused, despite knowing since March that the website wasn’t ready and wouldn’t be ready.

The President is trying to shift the blame for this mess to the GOP, when the GOP had literally nothing to do with it.  To the contrary, the Republicans tried at every opportunity to protect you from this; it was the Democrats who forced this upon you over Republican opposition:

  • It was the Democrats who wrote DemocratCare behind closed doors;
  • It was the Democrats who told you DemocratCare had to be passed before you could even find out what’s in it;
  • It was the Democrats who passed DemocratCare in the Senate in the middle of the night without anyone having read the thing;
  • It was the Democrats who bragged that DemocratCare was “a big f#cking deal”;
  • It was the Democrats who campaigned in 2012 on how great DemocratCare was going to be.

Well, DemocratCare was passed and we’re now seeing what’s in it.  How’s that working?

  • It was the Democrats who, with nearly four years to work on it, couldn’t competently manage the construction of a website (even Al Jezeera, Al Qaeda, ebay, Amazon, the Girl Scouts, and the endless Obama campaign manage to do that);
  • If you are one of the millions who under DemocratCare have now lost a medical insurance plan you liked, or the 50 to 100 million now projected to lose their coverage in the future, it was the Democrats who lied to you that you’d be able to keep it;
  • If you are one of the millions who have seen a dramatic increase in the cost of your medical insurance, it was the Democrats who lied to you that DemocratCare was going to decrease costs for most Americans;
  • If you are one of the millions whose doctors are not included in the only medical insurance plans now available to you under DemocratCare, it was the Democrats who lied to you that you’d be able to keep your doctor;
  • If you are one of the millions who have either lost your job or had your hours reduced so your employer could avoid DemocratCare’s mandate for businesses with 50 or more full-time employees, it was the Democrats who lied to you that DemocratCare would create jobs;
  • If you become one of the millions who have to pay a penalty—er, tax—it was the Democrats who lied to you that DemocratCare would not increase taxes;
  • If you have children who will now be saddled with trillions of dollars of additional debt (that’s almost all of you), it was the Democrats who lied to you that DemocratCare would not add a dime to the deficit;
  • If you or someone you love becomes one of those who ends up dying because a shortage of doctors prevents you from obtaining a necessary procedure, it was the Democrats who lied to you that this kind of thing wouldn’t happen under DemocratCare;
  • And even if you’ve been fortunate enough not to have been personally impacted by DemocratCare (and you’re not, you just haven’t realized it yet), if you voted based on what you were told about it, it was the Democrats who lied to you about it all (and, for the more inquisitive among you, ask yourself “why did they lie to me about all these things?”).

And I’d intersperse these messages with Max Headroom-style stuttering sound bites of the President, Secretary Sebelius, DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz and any other Democrat I can find saying “I-I-I-I-I-I’m responsible-I’m responsible-I’m responsible for this.”

The Democrats own this, and the Republicans have to be able to message it.  It’s a winning issue that should cripple the Progressives for decades, but the GOP has to sell it hard, and sell it now.

If they can’t saddle the Democrats with this, they’re done.  And so are all the rest of us.

Advertisements

Your Liberty Is Being Decreed Away

“I don’t want to sell anything, buy anything, or process anything as a career.  I don’t want to sell anything bought or processed, or buy anything sold or processed, or process anything sold, bought, or processed, or repair anything sold, bought, or processed.  You know, as a career, I don’t want to do that.”

      —John Cusack as Lloyd Dobler in Say Anything

 

Somebody has to put a stop to this.

On Thursday, the President purported to bail out Congressional Democrats drowning in a tsunami of outrage over millions of people losing their medical care insurance due to the minimum coverage requirements of FUBARCare.  Following up on a proposal discussed in the last post, Obama made an executive decree authorizing the continued sale of discontinued policies made illegal under the law.

The trouble is the Democrats, having created the problem in the first place, can’t fix it by reinstating the plans.  They don’t have the constitutional authority to do so, and their insistence on doing it anyway is frightening.

They can’t do it via legislation, as we discussed Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA) pushing.  The one thing Chief Justice John Roberts got right in his majority opinion in National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius was that the Commerce Clause does not give Congress the power to compel economic activity.  Because of that, it could not be used as a constitutional basis for upholding the individual mandate.  Senator Landrieu’s proposal simply amounts to an insurance company mandate, and the same analysis would apply.

I suppose one could argue that an insurance company mandate could be supported like the individual mandate was by enforcing it via a tax—Roberts was still wrong on that, by the way—but as a practical matter I don’t see how you would make that work.  It’s one thing to require individuals each of whom has to file their own tax return to submit proof of insurance with the return or have to pay their individual penalty.  But how do you enforce a tax on an insurance company to compel the reinstatement of hundreds of thousands of canceled policies?  How would you even compute such a tax, particularly when some people may have made other arrangements and don’t renew?  And there remain the disastrous long-term economic effects of compelling reinstatement, which we touched on in the last post.

Nor can the President do it.  Like Congress, he doesn’t have the authority to compel economic activity; the Commerce Clause doesn’t even apply to the President.  But he avoided that by not going as far as requiring insurance companies to reinstate policies, only decreeing that they would be permitted to continue selling policies that do not meet the statutory minimum coverage requirements.  He calls it “enforcement discretion,” and it is a power that doesn’t exist under the Constitution.  Scour Article II—you will not find it. 

Once again, we see this President unilaterally amending legislation—legislation he signed into law—creating a line-item veto by executive fiat, a power he simply does not have.  The President is only empowered to execute—that’s what an “executive” is—the laws passed by Congress.  He is not empowered to edit them, nor is he empowered to pick and choose which laws he will execute and which he will not.  One wonders where all those Democrats who little more than a month ago were shrieking at Ted Cruz that “It’s the law of the land!” are now. Thursday’s announcement and whatever order or communication that will go out to implement it are absolutely and unequivocally unconstitutional.

Notice a couple of things about the President’s “fix.”  One, it doesn’t lift the minimum coverage requirements; it only says that the penalties won’t be enforced.  It will remain illegal to have such a policy, and it will remain illegal to sell such a policy.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t know how comfortable I’d be holding or selling an illegal policy based on this President’s (unconstitutional) assurance—revocable at any time at his whim—that I won’t be punished for it.

Two, this “amnesty” plan is only good through 2014, once again conveniently pushing the issue off just long enough to get them through yet another election cycle.  And it likely does little for the millions who have already had their policies terminated.  Like everything else with this President, it’s a substance-less veneer; a cynical mirror hastily erected to divert your attention from the bigger issue.

And that bigger issue resides in the underlying thought process reflected in FUBARCare and the most recent band-aid.  Under FUBARCare, Congress took upon itself the power to compel individual private citizens to purchase a product regardless of whether they wanted it or could afford to pay for it, under penalty of law.  Let’s stop there for a moment; where does that end?  If Congress can make you buy medical care insurance, can’t it through the identical mechanism make you buy any other product or service it chooses to favor with an artificial compulsory market?  Suppose the UAW goes to Congress and says “We need more people buying cars”—what’s to stop Congress from enacting an individual automobile purchase mandate requiring every person over the age of 26 to buy a new car every three years or face a $15,000 fine, er, tax (with, of course, the appropriate federal subsidies, etc.)?

Pressing on, we see that the proposed solutions to the policy cancellation issue simply flip the analytical equation that led to FUBARCare in the first place.  Having compelled people to buy the product, the Progressives’ instinctive fix for the cancellations was then to compel people to sell the product.  True enough, Obama’s illegal exercise of fiat has—for now—stopped just short of compelling private insurance companies to sell the old policies, but compulsory sales was in fact the concept behind Senator Landrieu’s legislative proposal.  She wanted to force insurance companies to continue to sell policies they would otherwise cancel, and do so even at a loss.

Just like compulsory buying, this compulsory sale idea is subject to logical extension, and the place it leads isn’t pretty.  If government—whether via legislation or executive order—can compel a private insurance company to sell a policy, then it can compel any other private enterprise to sell a product, again even at a loss.  And if it can compel a private corporation to sell a product, it can compel any organization to sell a service.  And if it can compel a private organization—a private group of people—to sell a service, then it can compel a private individual to sell a service—force him to work—and again, to do so even at a loss.

Rusty, that’s crazy.  No one would ever suggest the government force individuals to provide a service against their will.

Really?  Well there are Progressives already openly campaigning on the premise that government should force doctors to accept Medicare and Medicaid patients—force them to provide a service—even if those doctors can’t break even under those programs’ payment structures.  It’s not far from there to say that doctors have to accept all patients, regardless of who they are or whether they can pay at all.  And if they can do it to doctors, well guess what, Sport . . .

It’s called a “command economy,” and it’s a hallmark of totalitarian communism.  Once government controls both sides of the transactional equation, once it acquires the power to compel both the purchaser to buy and the seller to sell, then all freedom is lost.  There is no private property, because both your money and your goods are subject to being forcibly exchanged in compulsory transactions; they belong to the government, to be disposed of as it sees fit for the collective good.  There is no liberty, because your labor—your fundamental control over yourself—is subject to being forcibly devoted to the service of someone else, whether you receive adequate compensation in return, or even any compensation at all; it likewise belongs to the government, to be disposed of as it sees fit for the collective good.  We all become slaves, each chained to the other, with the whip hand belonging to the Progressive ruling elite.

The Constitution was meant to protect you from this.  And it’s being openly, contemptuously ignored, with hardly a word in protest.  Once this genie is out of the bottle, friends, there ain’t no going back.  Write and call your Representative and your Senators; tell them they have to speak out and take action in defense of the Constitution.

We have to stop this now.  If it’s not already too late.

Truth And Consequences

“Hey, Howard, I thought you were a gentleman.  Sure it’s gone down a little bit, but you got the tip from your printer, I didn’t.  Yeah, you did.  That’s what you said.  I didn’t tell you to buy it, why would I tell you to sell it?  No, I can’t give it back.  Give it back to who?  You own it!”

      —Charlie Sheen as Bud Fox in Wall Street

 

Meet Mary Landrieu.

Ms. Landrieu is the senior Senator from Louisiana.  She’s a Democrat.  And she’s up for re-election in 2014 in what is otherwise normally a red state.

Back in 2009 she provided a pivotal late position change in favor of FUBARCare.  Recall that in order to get past a GOP filibuster to pass the thing, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) needed every one of the 60 Democrats then in the Senate to be on board.  Landrieu was one of the last holdouts.  With time running out, Reid did what Leftists do: 

He bribed her.

Oh, I don’t mean he literally gave her cash (as far as either of us knows).  But in the seedy world of politics, money coming into one’s district—or, in the case of a Senator, state—is almost as good as money coming into your own pocket.  So, in a move that would make Machiavelli proud, Reid arranged for amendments to the FUBARCare bill that were to extend some $300 million in federal Medicaid assistance to Louisiana, originally given in response to Hurricane Katrina; in other words, in order to secure Landrieu’s Aye vote, Harry Reid and the Democrats took millions of dollars from taxpayers in other States and gave it to Louisiana (which, ironically, then joined 26 other States in suing the federal government in an effort to stop FUBARCare).  So if you’re in Ohio, or California, or Texas, you are subsidizing indigent medical care in Louisiana.

But it gets worse.

It turns out that Landrieu’s vote wasn’t bought for $300 million; the price tag was really over $4 billion.  That’s right.  Due to drafting errors in the bill amendment—What?  Drafting errors?  In the FUBARCare bill?  Get real.—instead of phasing out the additional federal subsidy, payments to the State of Louisiana actually increase, resulting in a total federal cost of about $4.3 billion.  All to give Senator Landrieu something about which she could boast to her constituents in exchange for changing her vote.

And to be clear: Senator Mary Landrieu voted for FUBARCare.  She owns it.

Fast forward to 2013.  FUBARCare launched in earnest on October 1.  Leave aside the side-tent freakshow that is the comically inept website rollout.  The real game is in the millions who are being kicked off their existing medical care insurance plans.  Many Democrats who bought into and repeated the President’s assurances (read: lies) that if you liked your insurance you’d be able to keep it are now shocked—shocked—to find out that it just ain’t so.  Of course, many of us have been warning for years, both before and after FUBARCare passed, that this would happen, and it turns out the Democrats really did know it all along.  But many among the more gullible and ignorant voting public are now finding out the hard way, and boy are they pissed.  And Democrats in reddish states who voted in favor of it—by the way, did I mention that Senator Landrieu voted for FUBARCare?—are feeling the heat.

But don’t worry, because Senator Landrieu is now sponsoring a brilliant fix to the problem.  She, along with people like Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) are pushing additional legislation that would require insurance companies to continue to offer the policies they’ve been canceling.  That’s right: the solution to an impossibly messed-up unconstitutional federal regulation is . . . yet more impossibly messed-up unconstitutional federal regulation.

Here’s just how perverse this whole thing is.  As we discussed in the last post, the insurance policies that are being canceled aren’t being canceled because rich, profitable insurance companies are mean.  They’re being canceled because under FUBARCare either (1) they don’t provide the requisite minimum coverage, or (2) they become financially unviable.  In other words, these policies are being canceled because they’re made illegal or unprofitable by the very law Senator Landrieu voted to pass.  Now she wants to avoid the political consequences of that action by requiring insurance companies to continue to offer those policies anyway.

The optics of this are silly—we’re going to require everyone to purchase policies with a certain minimum amount of coverage . . . except for everyone who has a policy that doesn’t meet that standard, which we first banned but now we’re going to mandate stay in effect—but the economics are worse.  As mentioned, many of the policies being canceled are being canceled because under FUBARCare they no longer make fiscal sense—that is, the insurance carrier would lose money if it continued the policy.  Senator Landrieu’s “fix” forces those companies to continue the policy anyway, despite the loss. 

The economics of the policies that do meet the FUBARCare minimums depend on the risk pool including all those people who were to be forced off non-qualifying plans.  That was the point of the minimum coverage requirement: to make the coverage proposition work for the insurance companies, they need to be collecting premiums from people who won’t claim benefits.  With Senator Landrieu’s “fix” allowing those people to avoid being forced into the risk pool for the more comprehensive coverage they do not want, the carriers either have to raise premiums even further, or operate at a loss.  The former prices some people out of the policy and forces them onto the publicly-subsidized exchanges or Medicaid, further reducing the insurance companies’ risk pool and thus starting the cycle all over.  The latter obviously has the insurance company losing money. 

Neither situation is sustainable long term, and all of the scenarios have the insurance companies being compelled by law to continue offering insurance at a loss. 

Now, Senator Landrieu may have a fairly astute strategy here from a short-term political point of view.  If Republicans oppose this move, they’ll be cast once again as obstructionists, placing extreme ideology before practical solutions.  Worse, it will effectively allow the Democrats to shift responsibility for the policy losses to the GOP—don’t blame us, we tried to keep you from losing your policy, but the Tea Party racists wouldn’t compromise—as the Republicans’ hopelessly inept messaging will fail to remind voters that Democrats like Senator Landrieu caused the losses in the first place, and will never be able to articulate the disastrous long term consequences of the proposed solution.  It’s potentially win-win for the Dems: Landrieu gets her life preserver, and the Progressives get one step closer to single-payer.

But this shouldn’t work if the GOP stands firm and refuses to bail them out.  Between the website rollout and the millions of lost policies, the Republicans have a tangible real-world story to tell that puts what to this point had only been an abstract theoretical lie into sharp relief.  If they can get their messaging together, this should be a winning issue in 2014.  And the stakes are significant.  In addition to Landrieu, two other Democrat Senators in States that subsequently sued to stop FUBARCare are also up for re-election in 2014: Mark Begich in Alaska, and Mark Warner in Virginia.  Both voted for FUBARCare.  Other Democrat Senators in otherwise red states are also up for re-election in 2014 or are retiring: Mark Pryor in Arkansas (up), Max Baucus in Montana (retiring), Kay Hagan in North Carolina (up), Tim Johnson in South Carolina (retiring), and Jay Rockefeller in West Virginia.  All five voted in favor of FUBARCare.  Together with Landrieu, that’s eight seats up where FUBARCare should be a major sore spot; six seats flips control of the Senate. 

The truth remains:  Senator Landrieu and the Democrats voted in favor of FUBARCare.  They passed it without a single GOP vote in either house of Congress.  They own it.

And in 2014, that should have consequences.

*****************

EDITOR’S NOTE:  FUBARCare was supposed to add some 27 million to the ranks of the insured.  After six weeks, HHS’ official enrollment figure—likely grossly inflated—is all of 106,000 and change.  At that pace, FUBARCare will reach the 27 million level . . . in 29 years.

FUBARCare, Rights, and Contracts

And everyone here’s to blame

Yeah well everyone here gets caught up in the pleasure of the pain

Yeah, everyone here hides shades of shame

But looking inside we’re the same, we’re the same

And we’re all grown now, but we don’t know how

To get it back to good

           —Matchbox Twenty, Back 2 Good

 

In an opinion piece Tuesday on foxnews.com, Juan Williams argues that all the uproar over the President’s lies about you getting to keep your coverage is much ado about nothing, because it’s not the fault of Obama or FUBARCare that people are losing their medical insurance coverage.  As an initial point, it’s interesting that Williams makes no effort to say that the President didn’t say you could keep your coverage, or that the promise was in fact not a lie, but simply that because it’s not Obama’s fault—according to Williams—it’s not a lie that matters.

Whatever.

The more aggravating part of his piece, however, is his central thesis that Americans’ anger over the loss of coverage is misdirected.  To begin with, Williams minimizes the issue, contending that “only” some 2 million Americans are losing their insurance this month, and some will get “better” coverage and government subsidies, which sort of begs the question why we didn’t just go to a subsidy model like food stamps in the first place.  But more to the point, 2 million people is a lot, and at present it’s a whole lot more than the number of people who have gained insurance, which is a more than significant fact when you’re talking about a piece of legislation the central purpose of which was to see to it that more people had medical insurance than did before; Williams conveniently leaves that tidbit out.

Williams nevertheless says anger aimed at Obama and FUBARCare is misdirected, and should really be aimed at the insurance companies for cancelling their policies.  It is no more correct, according to Williams, to say that under FUBARCare government is “forcing” those companies to cancel policies any more than it is to say that government “forces” chemical companies not to dump toxic waste, or that government “forces” people to fix broken windshields.  Well, in point of fact, to the extent that the government via the power of law requires proper disposal of chemical waste or proper repair of vehicles, it indeed does “force” that behavior.  But the real issue is that Williams’ analogy is inapposite, and it reflects his fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of insurance, rights, and obligations.

When government enacts a law relating to waste disposal or vehicle repair, it is doing so to prevent the entities being compelled from engaging in a behavior that harms people.  There is a pre-existing right/obligation relationship in both instances.  I have a right not to be poisoned by polluted water, and the chemical company has a corresponding obligation not to poison me; the anti-dumping regulation merely enforces that pre-existing relationship.  Similarly, I have a right not to be harmed on the road, and you have a corresponding obligation not to harm me; the repair regulation again simply enforces what already exists.    

But there is no similar right/obligation relationship with respect to medical insurance, and this is where Williams leaves the reservation.  He complains that the cancellations are due to insurance companies’ refusal to do what they should have done all along, and that is revise their policies to provide all the “common sense, humane” goodies he says should have been there in the first place; all FUBARCare did was right this “terrible wrong” and stop greedy insurance companies from taking advantage of people and making profits by using “loopholes” to deny coverage.

Williams’ argument presumes that you somehow have a “right” to have your medical insurance policy cover all the things FUBARCare requires, and that the insurance company simply by virtue of existing has a corresponding obligation to provide them to you.  But no such right/obligation exists, and contrary to Williams’ apparent worldview, the insurance industry does not represent some sort of collectively-held natural resource upon which all of society has some right to draw. 

Insurance is a contract—an agreement—and those “loopholes” to which Williams refers are what are otherwise known as the terms of that agreement.  The ONLY right you have, and the ONLY obligation the carrier owes you, is what the two of you have agreed to in your insurance contract.  It is—or was, before FUBARCare—a voluntary arrangement (and don’t bother with the whole I-can’t-help-what-coverage-my-employer-provides thing; individual insurance has long been available, and if it really mattered that much to you, nothing prevents you from changing jobs to one that provides insurance benefits more to your liking); if you want contraception coverage, or a different lifetime cap, those policies were always available.  

But here’s the thing.  If you didn’t want those things, those policies were available, too.  You and your insurance carrier could enter into an agreement that didn’t cover, say, contraception and abortion services, and if you were a 65-year old who’s had a hysterectomy, it may very well make sense for you to do just that.  But under FUBARCare you can’t do that even if you want to, because Progressive elites like Williams think they know better than you do what coverage is “better” for you.  And this, Mr. Williams, is what’s got people so pissed off:  to the extent you’re talking about people losing coverage they liked—and those are by definition the people to whom the President’s promises about keeping coverage were made, not those who didn’t have insurance, or were somehow being cheated via inadequate coverage—it’s because in closing those “loopholes” you’ve forced them and their insurance company to alter their agreement and add terms neither of them wanted. 

Insurance companies aren’t cancelling policies because they are too evil to live up to their “obligation” to provide all the additional benefits the Left says everyone should have whether they want them or not.  They’re cancelling policies because all those added benefits—benefits FUBARCare now forces them to provide—have a cost, and this is the point that gets lost on people like Williams.  Health care in general, and insurance in particular, aren’t a magic top hat into which you can just reach and pull out whatever benefit you want.  Someone has to provide the services, and someone has to pay for them, and insurance policies are carefully calibrated actuarial propositions—that’s math, Mr. Williams—that ensure that premiums are set at sufficient levels to cover the cost of those benefits over the entirety of the risk pool and afford the profit without which the insurance company would not exist.  When government intervenes to mandate the coverage of additional benefits, the actuarial balance is altered, and either the extra cost of the additional benefits has to be covered by increased premiums and deductibles—as many are seeing—or the policy becomes financially unviable.  

Ironically, it is this very phenomenon that Williams now can’t bring himself to recognize that is the central basis for FUBARCare’s individual mandate.  Because there are increased costs associated with adding these benefits—and all these people who will supposedly be added to the ranks of the insured, if they can ever get on the website—they need people who won’t claim benefits to be enrolled in plans that pay for them anyway.  They need the sterile sextogenerian who will never need The Pill or an abortion paying premiums for those services in order to subsidize providing those benefits for others who do.  And, of course, the only way to get there is to force her out of her existing plan into one she does not want (and more to the point does not want to pay for).

So if you are one of those who liked your prior policy but either got canceled, or now face increased premiums and deductibles—either of which means you didn’t get to keep what you had—that is not because your insurance company simply didn’t want to do the right thing.  It’s because FUBARCare, pushed by Obama and passed to the wild cheering of people like Williams, fundamentally altered the financial mathematics of the deal.

And one suspects Williams really does know this, and what he seeks to avoid is admitting that he’s as much responsible for the lie and the mess as Obama.

Willful Blindness

Valerie:           Liar!  Liar!  Liiiaaarrr!

Miracle Max: Get back, witch!

Valerie:           I’m not a witch, I’m your wife.  But after what you just said, I’m not even sure I want to be that anymore!

          —Carol Kane as Valerie, and Billy Crystal as Miracle Max in The Princess Bride

 

Some of this would be really, really funny if it weren’t so damn dangerous.

It turns out that some people who thought FUBARCare was a great idea, that it was going to make life all peaches and cream for everybody, and that there was just no way in the world it would result in them losing their medical insurance—and you know who you are—are getting bitten in the ass by it.  In a closed-door meeting—gee, I wonder why it was closed-door?—Senator Joe Donnelly (D-IN) told members that his son had received a notice that his insurance was being canceled; Donnelly voted in favor of FUBARCare in 2009 when he was in the House.  The Washington Post, in a piece on consumer backlash over FUBARCare sticker shock told the story of one disillusioned FUBARCare supporter:

“Marlys Dietrick, a 60-year-old artist from San Antonio, said she had high hopes that the new law would help many of her friends who are chefs, actors or photographers get insured.  But she said they have been turned off by high premiums and deductibles and would rather pay the fine.

‘I am one of those Democrats who wanted it to be better than this,’ she said.

Her insurer, Humana, informed her that her plan was being canceled and that the rate for herself and her 21-year-old son for a plan compliant with the new law would rise from $300 to $705.  On the federal Web site, she found a comparable plan for $623 a month.  Because her annual income is about $80,000, she doesn’t qualify for subsidies.

A cheaper alternative on the federal exchange, she said, had a premium of $490 a month—but it was an HMO plan rather than the PPO plan she currently has.  ‘I wouldn’t be able to go to the doctor I’ve been going to for years,’ she said.  ‘That is not a deal.’”

Meanwhile, unions are striking or threatening to strike over job losses and cuts in hours caused by their employers’ efforts to deal with the compliance requirements of FUBARCare.

Told ya so.

I can almost understand if back in 2009 and 2010 you were one of those true believers, and you were just ignorant about how insurance works.  You could dismiss our warnings as the fear mongering rants of an extreme and racist Right.  But it’s impossible that you don’t see the reality now; and frankly you should be embarrassed at what is now the Obama administration’s doubling-down on the lie.

By now you’ve heard over and over again the reminders of the President’s promise that if you liked your medical plan and your doctor, you’d be able to keep them.  A large part of the reason you’re hearing about it over and over now, is, well, because he said it over and over.  Yesterday, unable to keep running from that pledge, the President took the position that he never actually made it; that what he really said was “you could keep it if it hasn’t changed since the law was passed.”  The trouble is, in the nearly thirty-odd times he’s gone on record with the if-you-like-it-you-can-keep-it promise, not once has he ever included that caveat. 

Not once.

In fact, on at least one occasion—in a 2009 speech praising the AMA for its support—he was beyond crystal clear that your ability to keep what you had was absolute:

“So let me begin by saying this:  I know that there are millions of Americans who are content with their health care coverage—they like their plan and they value their relationship with their doctor.  And that means that no matter how we reform health care, we will keep this promise:  If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor.  Period.  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.”

There was no hedging, no qualifying, no beating around the bush.  No matter how we reform health care—i.e., regardless of what’s in that law once we pass it to find out—you will keep your plan and your doctor, and no one will take it away no matter what.  Period.  Period.  He was trying to assuage the fears of people who wanted to keep the insurance and doctors they had, and he wanted them to understand and believe that they would be able to do so; he wanted them to rely on that assurance in choosing to support FUBARCare. 

In the law, we call that “fraud.”

For Obama now to argue that he was simply not as clear as he would have liked, and that what he was trying to convey was anything other than the plain, absolute assurance that no one would lose coverage under FUBARCare is pure fantasy.  He flat lied about you keeping your insurance.  It’s that simple.  He lied about it on purpose.  And now he’s lying about having told the lie in the first place.

The doublespeak spin on this is so childish, and so crude, that you should find it insulting.  People aren’t being canceled, they’re being “transitioned.”  People aren’t being screwed over in the transition, because although they liked their prior coverage and wanted to keep it, the new alternative coverage they don’t want that costs a hell of a lot more than their old coverage they did want is, in the Left’s infinite wisdom, “better.”  The FUBARCare website isn’t crashing, it’s just running slow.  And now the President says he didn’t really promise you could keep it, but only that you could keep it unless and until, and he just forgot to say the unless and until part.

You gonna believe me, or your lying eyes?

Yes, they think you’re that stupid, and only through an impossibly desperate act of self-deception can you not see that.  And it’s not the first time this Administration has brazenly denied the President said what 300 million people plainly saw and heard him say (and got him on videotape doing it).  They denied Obama told small business owners that they “didn’t build that.”  They denied Obama drew a “red line” on Syria.  But this latest attempt to deny ever making what was the repeated central sales pitch of Obama’s signature “achievement” would make even Eddie Haskell blush.  And yet his capacity to lie nonetheless appears to know no bounds.

This is what happens when you get blinded by your own ideology.  Reality will always be reality, and all your wishing and wanting won’t change that.  You’ve been lied to.  Some of us tried to tell you, and if you made a mistake that’s one thing.

But if you can’t at this point admit the reality that Obama lied to you, then you are a liar, too. 

Counting Diminishing Blessings

Nuke:              How come you don’t like me?

Crash:            Because you don’t respect yourself, which is your problem.  But you don’t respect the game, and that’s my problem.  You got a gift.

Nuke:              I got a what?

Crash:            You got a gift.  When you were a baby, the gods reached down and turned your right arm into a thunderbolt.  You got a Hall-of-Fame arm, but you’re pissing it away.

           —Tim Robbins as Ebby Calvin “Nuke” LaLoosh, and Kevin Costner as “Crash” Davis in Bull Durham

Are you comfortable?

Do you have enough to eat without having to scratch your subsistence out of the dust?  Are you able to read at night by virtue of fixtures and appliances powered by electricity available to you at the flip of a switch?  Can you travel essentially anywhere, using a privately-owned vehicle that can transport you safely and quickly over distances of hundreds of miles in a day?  Are you earning an income by working for an organization that produces goods people want or need (or for an entity that provides valuable services to such organizations)?

I’ll wager that the answer to every one of those questions is Yes.  But chances are you have rarely, if ever, considered the root source of those blessings.

That you enjoy the comforts of living in the most wealthy society in the history of man is not an accident.  Your abundance, your modern conveniences, your economic prosperity (yes, prosperity, even given the extended recession) are all fruits of a harvest sown by the seeds planted for us by the founding generation.  The freedom of self-governance and self-determination they left us is directly responsible for the development of the United States into an economic and industrial power; and regardless of your relative station in life here, you are far better off for it than you would have been otherwise.

It is the single greatest gift any human being has ever bestowed on another.

Consider for a moment the price your ancestors paid to give you that gift.  With no money, no training, no experience, no supplies, and few weapons to speak of, they dared to take on the most powerful professional military force the world had ever seen up to that time.  They left everything, and risked everything.  They suffered through Northeastern winters with essentially no shelter, and inadequate clothing.  They ate their shoes.  And their dogs.  25,000 of them died, representing a loss of 1% of the total population at the time;  to put that in perspective, if we had to fight that fight today, we’d see 3.2 million dead—1,095 casualties every single day for eight years—more than double all the American dead in all the wars we have ever fought combined.

Why did they do this?  What possessed them to seek a forcible divorce from Britain, and embark on so radical an experiment at such great cost?  Well, we don’t have to wonder about that, because in the Declaration of Independence they told all the world for all time why they did what they did.  But look at some of their specific complaints and consider whether we are faithfully preserving that which they left us.

As Jefferson put it, the colonists’ core issue was “a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism . . .”  “Despotism” is the abuse of government through the consolidation of unlimited sovereign power in the hands of one man.  Hmmmm.  And Jefferson listed specific examples of this trend of despotic behavior on the part of the British monarch and his minions; see if any look familiar. 

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them . . . taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments . . . suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.  You mean like a President effectively amending or repealing legislation such as FUBARCare, the CLASS Act, the Defense of Marriage Act, or the Immigration Reform and Control Act through unilateral executive orders and refusals to enforce all or parts of the laws as enacted by Congress, and imposing burdens on States over their objection?  You mean like repeatedly suing States to stop enforcement of State laws on matters such as border security?

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.  How about a President engaging in endless governance-by-crisis, marked by perpetual stalemates born of his absolute refusal to negotiate so much as a single comma on anything?  How about habitually summoning legislators to his mansion to be lectured like so many unruly schoolchildren?

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.  You mean like EPA?  OSHA?  IRS?  NSA?

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.  Would that we had the Army amongst us.  Instead we have the NSA tapping our phones and reading our emails, while a heavily armed DHS patrols our streets in armored vehicles and “monitors” Tea Party rallies.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.  We have the opposite: a President who has affected to render the military impotent and wholly subject to him and his ideology, while all dissent is purged.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation.  Have you met the U.N.?

[P]rotecting [troops], by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States.  The present administration has gone to great lengths to ensure that no one in it is held accountable for anything, ever.  Eric Holder in Fast & Furious.  Hillary Clinton and Susan Rice in Benghazi.  Lois Lerner in the IRS targeting episode.  Kathleen Sebelius with FUBARCare.  The White House always runs its own “investigation,” inevitably concluding that there was no wrong doing.  Nothing to see here.  Move along, Citizen.

[I]mposing Taxes on us without our Consent.  FUBARCare’s individual mandate penalty is a tax, when this President told us there wouldn’t be any new tax in it.  “Stimulus” and “Quantitative Easing” are stealth taxes in that they devalue the money you have, such that while you have the same number of dollars, you can’t buy as much with them today as you could yesterday.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us[.] This President is an endless font of race-baiting and class-warfare mongering.  He was a vocal supporter of the Occupy movement.  Divide and conquer

So many of the founding generation’s specific complaints enumerated in the Declaration find close parallels today, which means we’re slipping back into the very situation the Revolution was fought to eliminate.  How cheaply are we giving back that which they paid so dearly to leave to us?  Perhaps it’s come to us too easily; perhaps if we’d had to pay some of the cost to earn the freedoms we were bequeathed, we’d be more reluctant to see them taken from us.

We would do well to remember that we do not hold clear title; we are but life tenants, holding those freedoms in trust for the future generations that own the remainder.