Last night, in the most classic way imaginable, the Obama administration dumped a 800 lb lump of coal into the stockings of liberal America on the eve of the Christmas holiday.
The Administration announced that any person who had their health insurance cancelled late this year are no longer obligated to legally abide by the individual mandate, the central taxation component of the Affordable Care Act. Additionally, these same people could satisfy the mandate requirement by purchasing catastrophic insurance alone, which previously was not considered sufficient to satisfy the mandate requirements.
The argument that the administration is making is ironic in so many ways. They argue that the individual mandate, arguably the most important cog to the workings of Obamacare, is a ‘hardship’ to millions of Americans. Furthermore, they are arguing that because of this hardship, they will simply delay that part of the law.
Think about the legality for a second: President Obama is issuing a hardship exemption for something the Supreme Court has defined…as a tax.
Can you imagine the fun a Republican President can have with that power?
Let us also remember that this invalidates virtually every Democrat and liberal argument against a deal to avert October’s congressional shutdown. Let us not forget that Senators Ted Cruz and Mike Lee put a proposal on the table to avert the shutdown if the administration simply agreed to a 1 year delay to the individual mandate. Yesterday, Barack Obama did just that…proving that much of his stance on the shutdown was political theater, nothing more.
In the larger picture, this type of policy change largely defines the entire Obama Presidency. The pattern is as follows: Obama and liberals propose a policy that, any common sense would tell you, cannot function in the real world. They pass this policy, often distorting the facts to the American public to get their support. Once passed, they all of a sudden realize the idiocies contained in their plan, and rush to distance themselves from the plan they were recently advocating. Once the policy becomes active, they realize that reality is more powerful than ideology, and thus, look for any and all ways to get themselves out of the mess they created. And they use every ‘Band-Aid’ measure possible to cover-up the mess they have created.
The Band-Aids are piling up, and it does not only refer to health care. Look no further than foreign policy this. Obama’s Syria ‘Red line’ policy is a perfect example. Obama talked a good game, but then realize that there was no way to enforce his red-line in the real world. He quickly ran away from that policy, only to end up with a policy that, ironically, strengthened the power of a man Obama said was ‘evil’, Bashar Assad.
If you want to go further back, the Obama stimulus often had many of these characteristics as well. They passed statutes for ‘shovel-ready’ projects, and later realized there was no such thing. They then pumped out the money, regardless of effect, to lackluster consequences.
Think of the fallacy of this latest Band-Aid on Obamacare. The administration is arguing that they have imposed a hardship on at least 5 million Americans who lost their health insurance because of Obamacare. So, to help these people, they are going to exempt them from the individual mandate. However, these same people argued during the shutdown that any delay of the individual mandate would be catastrophic to the functionality of the entire ACA system.
Furthermore, the hardship claim is dubious. Is Obama actually saying that it is more a hardship for people to lose their insurance and have to purchase it on his own exchange, than the hardship of forcing the previously uninsured to dig deep in their pocketbooks to purchase that very same insurance on the exchanges? He is saying the previously uninsured have no burden of hardship as well?
Another liberal fallacy also dies: the argument that these were ‘substandard’ insurance policies. Obama has now stated it is o.k. for people to move to catastrophic insurance, when the majority of this cohort had comprehensive insurance prior to Obamacare coming into effect. In other words, Obamacare diminished the quality of health insurance plans in America, and Obama is not legitimizing that change.
Each of the policy changes are chinks in the armor of Obamacare; that armor is now thin and rusting. This is a virtual universal delay of the individual mandate for 2014, no matter how liberals spin it. They will never politically be able to argue that those that lost their insurance because of Obamacare bear more hardship than the uninsured do, and thus, they will be forced to exempt all Americans. Ted Cruz wins the policy debate.
Even worse, this fixes nothing long-term. This is a classic Obama ‘Band-Aid’. Sure, it theoretically stops millions of people from being required to pay approximately $95 in tax penalty this April. But the real issue is not the tax, but the health care exchange. By exempting all of these people, the administration makes the entire insurance system much less financially stable.
Insurers who were already dubious of the administration’s competence on this are now outright furious at being lied to, time and again. They fear this will further push the risk portfolios of their insurance plans to the extreme, and thus, will increase their costs. That further increases cost pressures on health insurance premiums across the board, increasing costs for everyone. The Obamacare upward bending of the cost curve continues.
The ‘Band-Aids’ are all for show. Ultimately, the problem is that the law itself was inherently broken. These temporary measures actually fix nothing in the system. They are a political attempt at cover. But nobody can protect Democrats from the onslaught of public anger that is going to arise when they realize what the ACA does, when the Band-Aids finally come off.