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Friday, March 7, 2014

Obama's piecemeal repeal of Obamacare

Do not let the illegal and unconstitutional aspects of Obama's frequent changes to the ACA keep you from seeing them for what they are. Yes, they are abuses of executive power but they are also capitulations to political reality. Obama refuses to defend his own law and vulnerable Democrats are now beginning to see two mutually exclusive outcomes. In essence either Obamacare goes or they do. Rigorous enforcement of the letter of the ACA law would be the death of the Democratic party and the 2014 incumbents would be the first wave of casualties. The mind fills quickly with allegorical parallels.
At the passage of the ACA Democrats likened it to the culmination of of a seemingly endless journey as the party wandered through the desert of low taxes and personal freedoms until finally they reached promised land of milk and honey replete with statism and affordable health care. Now the party of hope and change treads toward November as if was marching into the Donner Pass. They remember other epic journeys that did not end well such as the Bataan Death March and the Trail of Tears.

The ACA has been hacked to pieces by an overweening administration that jealously guards its right to undo the law as it sees fit and sees virtue in procrastination. Delay this piece for one year, delay that piece until 2016 extend enrollment, redefine enrollment.
Forget enrollment! There is no law left; just words.
"Words just words. Don't tell me words don't matter. If you like your health insurance you can keep it. Just words? If you like your doctor you can keep your doctor. Just words?"
Obama has broken new ground. This is executive nullification and the irony is it is the nullification of his own law. Each unilateral change to the ACA is an implicit admission of a defect or more aptly a political defect.
Moving from the political to the practical, as poorly designed as the ACA was written it did include some economic rational. Mandates, later defined as taxes, enhance enrollment to some extent. One can argue that the penalty tax of the individual mandate is too low to ensure much compliance but there is method to the madness. The principle of a risk pool is rooted in the centuries of experience of insurers and is not a creation of Nancy Pelosi's imagination but there are two costs involved in the ACA implementation. The economic cost and the political cost. It's almost a trade off. The more politically palatable the administration seeks to make the law the more economically expensive it becomes.
The economic costs are, luckily for the administration, not calculable at this point. They accrue to the insurance purchaser in the form of higher premiums and or less coverage and to the Treasury in the form of subsidies paid. The incessant tinkering through executive fiat ignore the cost to the Treasury but when next year's premiums are computed the insurance purchaser will not have the luxury of ignoring them.
The political costs seem just to dear to pay. The congressmen and senators who voted for the ACA are not the generation that will bear any burden and pay any price at least not when the price is their own careers. Obamacare simply cannot exist in a system that has free and honest elections. It is a political failure tantamount to the financial meltdown of 2008. It is being rendered unworkable by executive fiats to the point that it will soon only be words on paper. Repeal will be just be a formality.

1 comment:

  1. I'm beginning to think it should be called "Cruz-Care" instead of "Obamacare" because Obama is making all the changes Ted Cruz requested.