By now most of us are well aware that a funny thing happened on the way to socialized medicine in the United States. So funny a thing, in fact, that it is funny in a variety of ways! Let’s begin with the funniest part—as in funny-peculiar, not funny-ha ha—and we speak now of the “passage” of Obamacare into law. How did this occur when at the time of passage a Rasmussen poll showed likely voters, by a margin of 13 points, opposed to the idea? Well that’s kind of funny too. While most Americans were debating the probable meaning of LOST, riveted to the regal engagement of Prince William and Kate Middleton, or focused with profound intensity on Lady Gaga’s meat dress, the Democrat party got away with “deeming” that the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act,” (previously and hereinafter referred to as Obamacare) was the law of the land. How did that happen? Like we said, it’s funny-peculiar. If you have a particularly mordant sense of humor, it’s even funny-ha-ha.
Great Caesar’s ghost, it’s Supermajority!
When Barack Obama was running for the presidency in 2008 he made health-care reform central to his campaign. He solemnly promised at every whistle stop that reform would grow out of bipartisan negotiations. He insisted repeatedly that the discussions in congress would be televised on C-Span for all the world to see, rather than held “behind closed doors.” He was lying, naturally–but, to a vast, preoccupied, semi-conscious electorate, it all sounded plausible. The nauseous details of the 2008 election need hardly concern us here. For our immediate purpose we may now move forward to that moment when the detestable Arlen Specter (no relation to the comparatively salubrious and vastly more talented Phil Spector) declared himself a Democrat (after decades of uninterrupted de facto Democratism). Immediately following Specter’s moment of reification, the shatterpated pantaloon Al Franken was rather arbitrarily declared the winner of a hotly contested senatorial race in Minnesota (which was decided after several of those untrustworthy recounts so dear to the hearts of progressives, especially since unions supervise the voting machines), and thus the Democrats achieved a “super majority,” meaning enough votes in the House and Senate to drive the nation all the way to the dump without a single Republican bothering to climb aboard the dump truck. But wait!
This is the part where Ted Kennedy dies and, (just to make things even more funny-peculiar), Massachusetts goes into some sort of fit of extremely temporary lucidity and elects Republican Scott Brown to replace the newly defunct Hero of Chappaquiddick. Brown ran as a conservative’s conservative and handily rolled over liberal hack-ette Martha Coakley (despite or perhaps as a partial result of Obama jetting into the state to noisily endorse her candidacy).
Thus Brown triumphantly departed for Washington as the favorite of Tea Partiers, renascent commonwealth conservatives, libertarians, and the wonderfully gimlet Boston radio personality, Howie Carr. Brown was confidently expected to vote a solidly-right-of-center slate given the tenor of his campaign. Funnily enough, however, Brown immediately demonstrated a tone-deaf tendency to “cross the aisle” a la John McCain, and vote in ways contrary to the best interests of the Republic. Nevertheless, Brown remained emphatic about his opposition to Obamacare, and his presumptive “no” vote torpedoed the Dems’ supermajority. In a less surreal epoch, this would have crippled the drive for socialized medicine because the Republicans could have filibustered it to death.
Now you might think, beloved readers, that it hardly mattered if Scott Brown vouchsafed a senatorial filibuster given the fact that the Democrats infamously slipped through the Senate version of their bill on Christmas Eve (take that, America!) before Scott Brown could arrive. But wait! The threat of filibuster loomed anyway, because the House refused to pass the Senate version of the bill despite extreme pressure from the White House, AARP, Big Labor, Hollywood, and, hilariously enough, the American Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), the health insurance industry’s massive lobby. (The AHIP later woke up, smelt the borscht, and spent a frantic 100 million trying to stop the initiative—they being a bit slow) So, given that the House refused to rubber stamp the Senate’s bill and expected to negotiate a better version in conference with the Senate, and given that whatever sort of bill might ramify from such a conference, it would have to go back to the Senate for approval and would therefore fall victim to a GOP filibuster—are you with us, gentle readers? —it appeared that the surprise slime attack of December 24th had been neutralized. But wait!
Reconciliation, thy name is irony!
Comes now the infamous “reconciliation” ploy, which ploy became necessary because Democrats, as we have observed, no longer had 60 votes in the senate by which to impose cloture (shut down any debate, that is) and the House naturally wanted to add its own contributions to the looming national disaster of mandated socialist health care. It is, by the way, a safe conjecture that nobody at this juncture had any idea what the legislation contained in full…in fact it was at this juncture, readers will recall, that Nancy Pelosi cheerfully explained that her colleagues would “have to pass the bill to find out what’s in it!” Reconciliation meant that when enough “Blue Dog” Democrats had been lied to, threatened, coerced and bought off, the House could pass a version that could then be “deemed to have passed” by the Senate. This was done through reliance on the time-honored principle of reconciliation. But wait!
What the heck is reconciliation? Good question! Reconciliation is a special legislative process established by Congress in 1974 to provide for expedited consideration of important budgetary legislation. When an obstructive minority determined to stage an indefinite filibuster threatens legislation, reconciliation limits debate to 24 hours after which a final vote is called. A simple majority is all that is required, at that point, to pass the legislation…so the Democrats had only to “deem” the bill passed, and the law became a fait accompli to the chagrin of the out-maneuvered Republicans in both houses of congress. But wait!
Did you make note, gentle readers, of the adjective “budgetary” in our description of the reconciliation process? That’s right—the whole idea of reconciliation is strictly limited to budget changes. It was meant to assist lawmakers in passing budgets for a single fiscal year. Nobody ever dreamt it might be jury-rigged to rationalize the passage of hugely controversial and unpopular legislation by nullifying the power of the filibuster, an historic institution of the senate intended to ensure the rights of the minority. Put plainly, the pounding of the square peg of reconciliation into the round hole of multipart legislation is not Constitutionally supportable– and confronted with this appalling abuse of the Constitution, the Republicans in congress did what you might expect they’d do: They stared at their shoes and muttered to one another that if the Tea Party would just go away, they could go about the important business of capitulation without all the right-wing interference!
Well, here it is 2013, and as of this month’s Gallup poll Our Beloved Helmsman’s approval rating on the economy officially dipped to a new low of 35 percent. How can this be happening right in the middle of “Recovery Summer IV”? Don’t folks know that Rappin’ Preezy is focused like a laser beam on jobs for the American people? (And has been for five years now with no discernible result?) His Gallup ratings on the economy have fallen 7 points just since June, so obviously there’s no gratitude out there—possibly further evidence of racism! But what of Obamacare? What of program that millions of establishment-trained low-information voters believe will result in free healthcare forever?
After all, it passed back in 2009 and here we all are, still paying for prescriptions and medical insurance—what’s with that? Well, to understand the problem in the simplest possible terms, let us examine one of our favorite recent examples of abject (yet unchallenged) liberal hypocrisy. Remember Senator Max Baucus? Sure you do, he was Obamacare’s most enthusiastic advocate. In fact the Associated Press adoringly identified him as the man who “who helped write President Barack Obama’s health care law,” at least until 2010 when Baucus told reporters he’d never read the bill. (Let’s face it, nobody who voted for the bill ever read the bill—it’s the size of War and Peace and considerably less engaging.) Still, you might think the man who helped write it would have some nodding familiarity with it! Not Baucus—he snarled that it would be “a waste of [his] time!” Apparently he subscribed to the Pelosi theorem that with passage would come edification—and apparently it did, because by May of 2013 Baucus felt obliged to opine, “‘I just see a huge train wreck coming down.” A shame, really, that Senator Baucus didn’t see this sooner, like maybe while he was ramrodding the bill through the Senate. But wait!
The Revenge of Chuckie
The next big stumbling block was the Grassley amendment. It seems that old Chuck Grassley sneakily planted a rider requiring Congress and its staff to get its own insurance under Obamacare. Somehow this slipped past the Democrats during the febrile run-up to the bill’s passage. When Grassley’s mischief was belatedly discovered, congress freaked out, scrambling to find a way to quash the amendment, since nobody who voted for this stuff ever expected to be subjected to it. So even as the mentally random Nancy Pelosi was reassuring her constituents that, “Members of Congress and their staffs must enroll in health marketplaces as the Affordable Care Act requires,” her colleagues were pounding on the White House door begging to be omitted from the mess. And Rappin’ Preezy arbitrarily patched up the problem with one of his special, extra-constitutional, creative decretals; but not before the media subjected us to daily lamentations about how unfair Congressional inclusion in Obamacare would be. After all, the media explained, forcing Congressional staffers into Affordable Health when they clearly could not afford Affordable Health would be inhumanly cruel, not to mention the poor Congressmen themselves who make much too much for inclusion in taxpayer-provided subsidies and would pay around 20,000 annually for family insurance outside the system. This too, the media cried, was inhuman and unjustifiable. All of which begs the observation that all these horrendously unjust impositions upon the ruling elite are precisely what the rest of us are expected to accept unquestioningly—a healthcare system designed to bankrupt the wealthy and enslave everyone else. Beyond Congress, a survey of 2, 500 federal employees has just issued, indicating that only 2.9 percent favor shifting to Obamacare. We have already reported the fact that the head of the IRS is happy to opt out. Yet the Leftwing Establishment Media continue to insist that Obamacare is going to prove itself a miracle tonic for America’s ills.
It was always the case that the most awful aspects of the president’s health care plan were calculated to kick in well after the passage of the bill. Despite the fact that Americans were told health care had to be rushed into law because thousands of lives hung in the balance; because children were being denied vital treatments, and because the elderly were losing their homes en masse and becoming street people as their medical expenses rendered them destitute, the law was always slated to take effect between 2013 and 2014. The president’s handlers knew full well that once socialized medicine was inflicted on the U.S. population the mood would get ugly– so the president’s only shot at a second term required that implementation occur some time after the election of January 2012. But wait!
In the afterglow of defeating yet another moderate Republican presidential candidate, it dawned on Dear Leader & Company that all would be lost if the 2014 interim elections brought the Senate under Republican control and failed to recapture the House of Representatives for the Left. And the mood among Obama’s partners in crime was souring quickly as the former henchmen began to take second looks at what their exertions had won them. Foremost among these defectors were the major labor unions. Three of the biggest, the Teamsters, the United Food and Commercial Workers, and UNITE-HERE wrote a frantic letter to Harry Reid, of all people, saying, in part, that: “The unintended consequences of the ACA are severe. Perverse incentives are already creating nightmare scenarios: First, the law creates an incentive for employers to keep employees’ work hours below 30 hours a week. Numerous employers have begun to cut workers’ hours to avoid this obligation, and many of them are doing so openly. The impact is two-fold: fewer hours means less pay while also losing our current health benefits.” Well, duh! It is only WOOF’s detestation of the cliché that obstructs us from asking the American Labor Movement, ‘what was your first clue?’
And the fact that illegal aliens will be omitted from such “perverse incentives” just as soon as Obama and John McCain get “immigration reform” passed, (or just as soon as Obama decides it’s the law regardless) has yet to occur to these poor union schlubs; but how much can one expect, really, from people so dumb they think Harry Reid gives a tinker’s damn about them? Obama, meanwhile, continually issues fiats to the effect that this or that portion of his own plan will be delayed, or that this or that exemption from it will be made, as though he had any authority whatsoever to postpone or alter laws passed by congress…and the Republican “leadership” continues to stare fixedly at its shoes.
Something wicked this way comes.
Here are more insights into what the president’s plan will do for you and your family: Obama’s plan will require your private insurer (you know, the one you thought you could keep if you preferred to) to accept people with pre-existing conditions —and simultaneously caps how much insurers can charge. While sophomoric liberals hear this and rejoice that “corporate rip-offs” will be banished by a benignant government, the proposition is untenable. First private insurance premiums will skyrocket making private insurance worthwhile only for the privileged few—and the Left needn’t worry that those evil one-percenters will be content with their private insurance because there won’t be any private insurance companies to pay within a year or two. See, rates will quickly shoot up to their respective caps, even as the number of payers into the system will be dramatically reduced by the high, largely unpayable rates, even as the number of conditions covered will be quadrupled by government mandate. Unless you’re a Utopian Democrat you can see the problem here, right? No income, plus governmentally required coverage and payouts equals closing up shop. The idea, as Obama makes perfectly clear in the now infamous 2003 video tape of his speech to the AFL-CIO’s Civil, Human and Women’s Rights Conference, is to move toward, “…a single-payer universal health care program…a single-payer health care plan, a universal health care plan. That’s what I’d like to see. But as all of you know, we may not get there immediately.” But, he might have added, we can get there pretty fast by driving the private insurers to ruination! What about the states? Obamacare requires all states to expand their Medicaid program to 133% of the federal poverty level. Sounds great, right? Except that expansion will cost the states at least 120 billion dollars—which comes from where? Obama’s stash?
No, from taxpayers paying through the nose, and through cuts in services provided. The fun is never ending! What about your work-related insurance? A leaked administration document estimated that under the rules, about fifty-one percent of employers would have to give up their coverage for employees as early as 2014. (The rest, obviously, to follow thereafter.) The exception, you will not be surprised to learn, is union healthcare plans. They’re safe from interference for now. Sound unequal and unfair? Now come the waivers. For instance, Section 2711 waivers supposedly guarantee businesses and labor unions the ability to hang onto their private insurers , but a) there won’t be any private insurers soon for the reasons mentioned above, which is why the waivers are deemed temporary, by the way, and b) the Department seems only to grant such waivers to unions, leaving businesses twisting in the wind as befits exploiters of the proletarian masses, of course. At any rate, all waivers expire by 2014, which is when WOOF predicts unions will get a reprieve and an extension and business will …well, there won’t be any businesses by then—except for the huge (and largely liberal democratic) big businesses that are being granted waivers willy-nilly….which sounds like an equal protection problem, except somebody would have to have the temerity to say so.
Death panels anyone?
Of course there are death panels, Virginia, although Obamacare prefers to call them Independent Payment Advisory Boards (IPAB). The role of these budgetary oversight and case-review panels, which will function as mini-fiefdoms, is so obviously what Sarah Palin was talking about that several Democrats are starting to get a case of the heaves over them, and Howard Dean, former DNC Chair, medical doctor and screaming presidential candidate overcame his chronic lunacy long enough to pen an op-ed piece for the Wall Street Journal calling for a repeal of the boards.
Even Screamin’ Howie Dean realized that, “the IPAB will be able to stop certain treatments its members do not favor by simply setting rates to levels where no doctor or hospital will perform them.” (Which process would actually be a fallback position in case of unexpected resistance, since the IPAB can simply deny payment on a cost efficiency basis up front!) Death panels? Of course there are death panels—and if you thought that stuff requiring end-of-life counseling had been taken out of the law under a storm of protest, WOOF knows that sneaky old Katherine Sebelius slipped mandatory end-of-life counseling back into Obamacare after Obama’s great show of removing it. That the plug can indeed be pulled on granny is so blatantly obvious that the flood of denials in the liberal blogosphere is almost touching it its frantic intensity. But death panels that gauge the practicality of one’s medical treatment in terms of how old and expensive one has become, are only the exposed dorsal fin of a far more predacious beast.
Why stop with ethnicity?
A chilling section of the Affordable Care Act calls for the study of how cost-effective various treatments are for “subpopulations,” among which the law includes racial and ethnic minorities, women, senior citizens, and groups with certain comorbidities, genetic and molecular sub-types, or “quality of life preferences.” The CATO Institute has sagely remarked that “Unlike market-generated research, a federal comparative-effectiveness agency would be subject to political manipulation, which could block the generation of any useful research.” Block research? The good folks at CATO are too sanguine. Once studies into subpopulations have been undertaken, opportunities exist for institutional racism, regionalism, ageism, and yes, homophobia (by which we mean a sensible accounting of the fact that the Gay lifestyle is often one that conduces toward health risks). But wait!
The risk of political manipulation of a more direct and intimidating variety seems equally possible. Registered Republican voters are, for example, a subpopulation—and if you think it unthinkable that any American administration would use healthcare to target its political rivals for demise by calculated neglect, consider that the Administration has already used the IRS to target rival organizations for destruction, and the NSA to spy on all of us. Consider also that it is the same IRS that leapt to sustain the liberal cause by targeting Tea Party groups at Obama’s behest that will be implementing Obamacare. Consider another point in closing: Liberalism is ceaseless in its proclivity for naming initiatives that are fundamentally inimical to the commonweal in ironic ways. Examples: The Marriage Equality Act—an effort to destroy the 20,000-year-old concept of marriage.
And how about Gun Safety Laws—laws that make us all less safe by taking our guns away. Or the Voter Rights Act: Laws that promote the rights of non-Americans to get away with voting illegally while doing nothing whatsoever for the rights of voters. “Choice”: a funny name for the political support of infanticide leaving the unborn baby with no choice whatsoever because his mommy made the wrong choice in getting pregnant and another wrong choice in killing her child. And now we have “the Affordable Care Act” which is expected to jack up monthly premiums insanely, hitting the young most severely when they are least able to afford the insurance offered or the penalties for not buying the insurance, and further devastating the economy so that inflation will make things still less affordable and joblessness will place even affordable products beyond most peoples grasp. And while we’re on the subject of irony, you know the APA is also called the Patient Protection Act? Hmmm? …probably calling it the Politically Permissible Genocide Act wouldn’t have the same snap, right?