Stirred into action by the threat his signature legislation poses to Democrats' hopes for the November 2014 elections, President Obama agreed to stand behind his false promise that those who liked their health insurance could keep it. The “fix” the President offers is that he will forgo enforcing the Affordable Care Act for one year.
Ironically, the year's delay in enforcement is what the GOP proposed over two months ago. At that time delay was so unacceptable that Obama had the government shutdown rather than accede to the GOP proposal.
Whether the President's fix is legal was questioned by former Governor Howard Dean (D-Vermont). “This would seem to violate the President's oath of office,” Dean said. “As chief executive, the President is supposed to ensure that the laws of this country are faithfully enforced. Amending the clear language of the statute as President Obama has done usurps powers the Constitution delegates to Congress.”
A GOP attempt to codify the “fix” via enabling legislation was introduced by House Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich). Upton's bill—the “Keep Your Health Plan Act”--passed the House by a 261-157 vote. Nevertheless, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md) declared the vote “a waste of time and an infringement of the President's flexibility. If we pass a statutory change to the Affordable Care Act it would tie the President's hands. I mean, what if he determines that the delay needs to be rescinded?”
The White House has already vowed to veto the House measure should it make it through the Senate and reach the President's desk. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev) assured that “this will never happen. The President has shown the courage to rise above the petty constraints others would impose on his latitude. You don't hog tie the person you're counting on to save the day with fetters forged by those long dead. He needs a free hand to rule in the best interests of the American people.”
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif) concurred in Reid's assessment. “The notion that there are a lot of people who like their old policies is completely bogus,” Pelosi contended. “I have yet to meet a single person who isn't glad that the government is forcing everyone to buy a new and improved insurance plan.”
Pelosi dismissed reports of cancer patients being thrown off their old insurance plans and widespread “sticker shock” at the higher prices of ACA compliant policies as “minor bumps in the road. Every major undertaking is bound to rack up a few casualties along the way. No insurance system can save everyone. The important thing is to get everyone on-board a plan that Health and Human Services has determined best serves the nation.”
Obamacare “Fix” Disputed
The feasibility of President Obama's ad hoc revision of the Affordable Care Act was immediately disputed by leading insurers and state insurance regulators.
On the insurance industry side, Karen Ignagni, president of America's Health Insurance Plans, called the President's move “unworkable and unfair. There is no way at this late date to implement this latest promise of President Obama. Getting our policy options in line with the requirements of the Affordable Care Act took us close to three years of work. Resurrecting policies that the ACA has outlawed cannot be accomplished within the time remaining before the legislated December 31st expiration of these non-conforming policies.”
“The President's transparent attempt to shift all the blame onto us reneges on the deal we thought we had with the Administration,” Ignagni complained. “The government forcing everyone to buy upgraded policies was the trade-off for us agreeing to take on those with pre-existing conditions. If the government isn't going to force people to buy over-priced policies where are we supposed to get the money to cover new high-risk individuals?”
On the state insurance regulation side, Washington State Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler (D) says “the President's 'fix' would wreck the state's health insurance exchange. The whole point of the Affordable Care Act is to compel healthy and low-risk individuals to subsidize the medical needs of unhealthy and high-risk individuals. Allowing each person to selfishly purchase only the coverage he or she needs undermines this objective. We won't allow it.”
Dem Says Congress Has No Authority to Question EPA
In hearings dealing with the Environmental Protection Agency's budget, Representative Donna Edwards (D-Md) took issue with the entire concept of Congressional oversight.
“These people are trying to save the planet,” Edwards asserted. “We have no right to question their methods and decisions. Our job is simply to ensure that they have all the resources they say they need to accomplish their vital mission.”
House Science, Space and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas), wondered “how are we going to know what resources the EPA needs if we don't ask questions?”
“Why can't we just trust these dedicated public servants?” Edwards suggested. “So what if we lose a few bucks here and there? Isn't warding off planetary destruction worth the risk of funding a few frivolous studies or padded expense accounts?”
Homeland Security Nominee Irks Senator
Jeh Johnson, President Obama's nominee to fill the post of Secretary of Homeland Security, irked Senator Tom Coburn (R-Tex) with his “cut-and-paste” responses to a questionnaire put to him by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.
“We are being asked to confirm this person to an important position in our government,” Coburn said. “Our questionnaire is designed to obtain his views on crucial issues the Department of Homeland Security has to deal with. We deserve the courtesy of an honest effort to respond.”
Johnson maintained that “I've been as honest as the circumstances warrant. As Secretary of Homeland Security I must guard against all threats to the Government. To be brutally frank, some of the most serious threats come from within the Government itself, most notably, Congress where persons bent on opposing the President's attempts to transform the nation are ensconced.”
“My reticence is solely for the purpose of preventing hostile elements from obtaining information that might be used to thwart the policies and actions the President is trying to carry out,” Johnson added.
Venezuela Cracks Down on Businesses
The Venezuelan Government sent troops to invade over 1400 shops and arrest over 100 “bourgeois” businessmen in what it described as a “crack down on price gougers.”
President Nicolas Maduro denounced those arrested as “barbaric capitalist parasites.” Their “crime” was to charge prices that the Government considered unfair. Neither the fact that customers voluntarily paid the asking prices nor that there is no current law regulating merchandise mark-ups was deemed inhibiting.
“We know that they are guilty,” Maduro insisted. “Everyone knows that they are guilty. We will approve the necessary laws and mete out the punishment they deserve.”
Maduro denied that Government policies that have resulted in 1000% inflation over the past year bore any of the blame for businesses raising their prices. “We are trying to make sure that everyone has enough money to buy what they need,” he declared. “But it will never be enough if businesses are allowed to raise their prices to try to offset our monetary initiatives.”
Obamacare “Navigators” Abet Fraud
James O’ Keefe’s Project Veritas used hidden cameras to expose Health and Human Services employees urging individuals to commit fraud in order to get lower prices and subsidies from the Affordable Care Act's health insurance exchanges.
On video tape, one Obamacare Navigator is caught advising a prospective applicant for health insurance to conceal income in order to “qualify for more stuff as far as aid and stuff like that. You're already hiding that cash income from the IRS so you don't have to pay taxes on it. There's no sense in reporting it on your insurance application. That by itself could trigger an IRS audit of your income tax filing.”
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius defended the navigators actions as “errors springing from genuine concern for those we serve. Getting as many people signed up as we can is the goal. Finding ways to shave the price they have to pay helps us get closer to meeting that goal.”
Sebelius characterized the fraud as “minor. In the grand scheme of things the amounts are relatively small—probably less than $10,000 per person per year in unwarranted discounts or subsidies. We have to balance this against the greater numbers of persons who will enroll under fraudulent means than would likely enroll if all the rules were strictly enforced.”
White House Predicts Record Tax Haul Next Year
The Administration is predicting that the federal government will take in over $3 trillion in taxes in 2014. This works out to nearly $30,000 per full-time worker.
Presidential Press Secretary Jay Carney touted this “unprecedented achievement as yet another historic moment for President Obama. When we consider the number of persons who have left the workforce and the number who have been shifted to part-time work during his term the accomplishment is even more amazing. The portion of the population tasked with funding the government is shrinking at the same time that more are gaining access to its benefits. In terms of raw numbers, more people have been freed from labor by the policies of this Administration than were freed by Lincoln in his Emancipation Proclamation.”