Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Obama's Superficial Mind

Of all the conceits regarding Barack Obama, the most wildly delusional is that he is the possessor of a towering intellect and speaks with soaring prose. Obama himself is quite enraptured with this fantasy and has done much to promote it.
In today's WSJ, Bret Stephens, writing of Obama's decision not to attend the commemoration of the 150th anniversary of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, contrasts the two presidents.

Abraham Lincoln spoke greatly because he read wisely and thought deeply. He turned to Shakespeare, he once said, "perhaps as frequently as any unprofessional reader." "It matters not to me whether Shakespeare be well or ill acted," he added. "With him the thought suffices."
Maybe Mr. Obama has similar literary tastes. It doesn't show. "An economy built to last," the refrain from his 2012 State of the Union, borrows from an ad slogan once used to sell the Ford Edsel. "Nation-building at home," another favorite presidential trope, was born in a Tom Friedman column. "We are the ones we have been waiting for" is the title of a volume of essays by Alice Walker. "The audacity of hope" is adapted from a Jeremiah Wright sermon. "Yes We Can!" is the anthem from "Bob the Builder," a TV cartoon aimed at 3-year-olds.
There is a common view that good policy and good rhetoric have little intrinsic connection. Not so. President Obama's stupendously shallow rhetoric betrays a remarkably superficial mind. Superficial minds designed ObamaCare. Superficial minds are now astounded by its elementary failures, and will continue to be astounded by the failures to come.
Speaking of Obamacare...Why was its rollout scheduled 3 and 1/2 years after it was passed in early 2010? (Yeah, I know. Even that wasn't long enough for Kathleen (I Need At Least Five Years) Sibelius to get it up and running). If it is such a vital piece of legislation, shouldn't it have been implemented as soon as possible? Save lives and all that.
The answer is another question. Why does this administration do anything? Politics, of course.
Obamacare's implementation was delayed, in part, by legislative politics, allowing its promoters to advance the deceit that its ten year cost would come in under one trillion dollars - ten years counted as 2010 - 2019 - only six of which the law would actually be in place. The phony $940 billion price tag has given way to a more accurate 10 year (2014-2023) estimate of $2.6 trillion - and that is sure to grow (if the law survives).
But the most important reason for the delay was electoral politics. Had Obamacare made its debut in 2011 or 2012, its destructive influence would have been exposed to the electorate by Election Day, 2012. That Obama needed to obscure his signature "accomplishment" to win re-election is reflected in a recent Washington Post poll showing that if the presidential election were held today, Mitt Romney would win 49% - 45%, mirroring Obama's 4 point win in 2012 (51-47).

Monday, November 18, 2013

Obamacare Lies

NRO contributors, Andrew McCarthy and Andrew Stiles (no relation), document some of the deception and criminal fraud being perpetrated during the selling and implementation of Obamacare.


"According to Obama, these individual-market consumers whose policies are being canceled make up only 5 percent of all health-insurance consumers.
Even this 5 percent figure is a deception. As Avik Roy points out, the individual market actually accounts for 8 percent of health-insurance consumers. Obama can’t help himself: He even minimizes his minimizations. So, if Obama were telling the truth in rationalizing that his broken promises affect only consumers in the individual-insurance market, we’d still be talking about up to 25 million Americans. While the president shrugs these victims off, 25 million exceeds the number of Americans who do not have health insurance because of poverty or preexisting conditions (as opposed to those who could, but choose not to, purchase insurance). Of course, far from cavalierly shrugging off that smaller number of people, Obama and Democrats used them to justify nationalizing a sixth of the U.S. economy.

But that’s not the half of it. Obama’s claim that unwelcome cancellations are confined to the individual-insurance market is another brazen lie. In the weekend column, I link to the excellent work of Powerline’s John Hinderaker, who has demonstrated that, for over three years, the Obama administration’s internal estimates have shown that most Americans who are covered by “employer plans” will also lose their coverage under Obamacare. Mind you, 156 million Americans get health coverage through their jobs.
John cites the Federal Register, dated June 17, 2010, beginning at page 34,552 (Vol. 75, No. 116). It includes a chart that outlines the Obama administration’s projections. The chart indicates that somewhere between 39 and 69 percent of employer plans would lose their “grandfather” protection by 2013. In fact, for small-business employers, the high-end estimate is a staggering 80 percent (and even on the low end, it’s just a shade under half — 49 percent).

That is to say: During all these years, while Obama was repeatedly assuring Americans, “If you like your health-insurance plan, you can keep your health-insurance plan,” he actually expected as many as seven out of every ten Americans covered by employer plans to lose their coverage. For small business, he expected at least one out of every two Americans, or as many as four out of every five, to lose their coverage."



"...a recent CBS News investigation found that HealthCare.gov contains a pricing feature that tends to “dramatically underestimate” the cost of insurance. The website’s “shop and browse” feature divides users into two broad age categories: “49 or under” and “50 or older.” Price estimates for the first age group are based on what a 27-year-old could expect to pay, whereas as the latter group’s price estimates are based on what a 50-year-old would pay, a practice that inevitably produces wildly misleading results for individuals significantly older than the base age. In some cases, actual premiums are nearly double the projected amount. In the words of one industry expert, the feature is “incredibly misleading for people that are trying to get a sense of what they’re paying.”

The FTC requires companies to provide essentially every possible form of information about a given product up front, prior to the point of purchase. Private companies engaged in HealthCare.gov’s kind of behavior would face severe consequences, (Orson) Swindle (former FTC commissioner) tells National Review Online. “Businessmen would lose their businesses, salesmen would lose their licenses — that’s the kind of thing we are talking about here,” he says. “The bottom line is that no private entity would be allowed to get away with what the Obama administration is trying to get away with.”

...Representative Mike Rogers (R., Mich.) gave Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius a dressing down at a congressional hearing two weeks ago, noting that HealthCare.gov was operating with a “completely unacceptable level of security” and that the administration had known this yet had directed people to the site anyway without warning.
According to an internal memo at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the administration had “only partly completed” a full assessment of the website’s security features ahead of the October 1 launch of the exchanges. The potential lack of security was determined to be “a risk that must be accepted” in order to meet that deadline.
“You accepted a risk on behalf of every user of this [website] that put their personal financial information at risk,” Rogers told Sebelius, “because you did not even have the most basic end-to-end test on security of this system. Amazon would never do this; ProFlowers would never do this; Kayak would never do this.”
One reason they wouldn’t is that, if any of these companies had done this, they would almost certainly have faced serious legal action under Section 5 of the FTC Act, which prohibits endangering consumers by “failing to maintain security for sensitive consumer information.” The FTC has pursued such action on 32 occasions since May 2011. “When companies tell consumers they will safeguard their personal information,” the commission notes on its website, “the FTC can and does take law enforcement action to make sure that companies live up to these promises.” Swindle suggests that a violation like that of HealthCare.gov could even warrant a referral to the DOJ for criminal charges."


Question - Will the notoriously left leaning Consumer Reports, enthusiastic supporters of the ACA, inform their alleged constituency - consumers - of these egregiously deceptive and illegal tactics?

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Outside The Box

We could have a first class health care system if the influence of third parties (government and insurance companies) were substantially reduced or eliminated from our current system. (Obamacare perversely increases our reliance on these third parties).
Leftists curious about alternatives to their myopic worldview might want to visit the linked site below. Join David Mamet (and many others) in emancipation from what the playwright termed, "brain dead liberalism".


Also - The Jonah Goldberg article I cited in my last post has been made available on the (free) NRO website.


Monday, November 11, 2013

Ah, Those Bothersome Glitches

The lead story in today's Wall Street Journal is titled, "Health Glitches Tarnish Obama". Imagine some past WSJ headlines.
"Race Baiting Dulls Hitler's Luster"
"Food Misallocation Takes Bloom Off Stalin's Rose"
"Titanic Mishap Impacts Captain's Reputation"

Meanwhile, Obama's home town paper, the left wing Chicago Tribune, has finally figured out what those Tea Party crazies understood four years ago.

President Barack Obama's signature accomplishment is teetering. The Obamacare website is a national punch line. Millions of Americans, repeatedly reassured by Obama that they could keep their doctors and health plans, are discovering that they can't. Their insurance policies are being canceled. The price of new coverage is substantially higher. The new coverage may force them to choose new doctors. And the law says they have to buy insurance or pay a fine.
People are deeply concerned, and for good reason. This is, as Democratic Sen. Max Baucus famously predicted seven months ago, a "train wreck."

...Democratic leaders forced the law through Congress without a single Republican vote. The architects of Obamacare brushed aside sharp warnings from tech wizards that the computer system wasn't tested and ready. They piled hundreds of pages of last-minute regulations on insurers. They forced insurers to cancel policies by the thousands because those policies fell short of the soup-to-nuts coverage required by the law.
...Accept that government doesn’t know what’s best for everyone. That people can decide what coverage they need and can afford. A strong marketplace offers choices for every wallet. Obamacare’s rules curtail those choices.

 ...It was a mistake to attempt such a massive government intrusion on a marketplace and a mistake to do so without anything close to a public consensus.

Question. Where were these (expletive deleted) when the bill was being debated?


Former Federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy makes the case that President Obama's repeated lies promoting the ACA amount to an impeachable offense.

If you like your health-care plan, you will be able to keep your health-care plan. Period.
How serious was this lie, repeated by Barack Obama with such beguiling regularity? Well, how would the Justice Department be dealing with it if it had been uttered by, say, the president of an insurance company rather than the president of the United States?
Fraud is a serious federal felony, usually punishable by up to 20 years’ imprisonment — with every repetition of a fraudulent communication chargeable as a separate crime. In computing sentences, federal sentencing guidelines factor in such considerations as the dollar value of the fraud, the number of victims, and the degree to which the offender’s treachery breaches any special fiduciary duties he owes. Cases of multi-million-dollar corporate frauds — to say nothing of multi-billion-dollar, Bernie Madoff–level scams that nevertheless pale beside Obamacare’s dimensions — often result in terms amounting to decades in the slammer.

...Barack Obama is guilty of fraud — serial fraud — that is orders of magnitude more serious than frauds the Justice Department routinely prosecutes, and that courts punish harshly. The victims will be out billions of dollars, quite apart from other anxiety and disruption that will befall them.The president will not be prosecuted, of course, but that is immaterial. ...the remedy for profound presidential corruption is political, not legal. It is impeachment and removal.

It is highly unlikely that Barack Obama will ever be impeached. It is certain that he will never again be trusted. Republicans and sensible Democrats take heed: The nation may not have the stomach to remove a charlatan, but the nation knows he is a charlatan. The American people will not think twice about taking out their frustration and mounting anger on those who collaborate in his schemes.


There hasn't been much to celebrate over the past five years, politically speaking, but celebrate is exactly what Jonah Goldberg does in the latest issue of National Review (Schadenfreudarama, 11/25), gloating over the intractable mess the Democrats have created for themselves with Obamacare. Fun reading. (Can't link to it, sorry. However, if you go to the NRO website, you can buy the article for a mere $0.25 without a subscription. Well worth the expense).

In the same issue, Mark Steyn explains the inevitable abysmal failure of Obamacare and every other enterprise undertaken by this administration.*

For the past half century, Obama has simply had to be. Just being Obama was enough to waft him onwards and upwards: He was the Harvard Law Review president who never published a word, the community organizer who never organized a thing, the state legislator who voted present. And then one day came the day when it wasn't enough simply to be. For the first time in his life, he had to do. And it turns out he can't. He's not Steve Jobs or Bill Gates or Jeff Bezos.** And Healthcare.gov is about what you'd expect if you nationalized a sixth of the economy and gave it to the Assistant Deputy Commissar of the Department of Paperwork and the Under Regulator-General of the Bureau of Compliance.

*See for example http://pjmedia.com/victordavishanson/americas-wilderness-years/?singlepage=true

**Mark's standards are way too high. Obama is no Joe The Plumber either.

And lastly, this letter published in the Wall Street Journal, 11/12/2013.

It was with a great deal of empathy that I read Edie Littlefield Sundby's "You Also Can't Keep Your Doctor" (op-ed, Nov. 4). My wife died earlier this year from a recurrence of breast cancer. She had been ill off and on for about six years. She was one of the "uninsurable millions" on which the spin to pass the Affordable Care Act was based.
My wife received treatment for her illness because Arkansas had a high-risk pool specifically designed for its residents who had no other options for coverage. I believe that at the time the ACA was passed 36 states (if you include Massachusetts) had similar pools, which offered a state-level solution to a state-level problem. My wife was never once denied coverage. I lost count of how many doctors saw her or offered opinions during her illness. I have zero complaints about the care she received, right up to the hospice care that was provided at the end of her life. Of course, her coverage would have ended on Jan. 1, 2014.
John Trickett
Charleston, Ark.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Obamacare's Wreckage

The following are links to an op-ed written by Obamacare victim, Edie Littlefield Sundby in the Wall Street Journal, November 4, 2013 and a follow up editorial, November 7, 2013.