So when all the yielding and objections is over, the other Senator said, “I object to the remarks of a professional joker being put into the Congressional Record.” Taking a dig at me, see? They didn’t want any outside fellow contributing. Well, he had me wrong. Compared to them I’m an amateur, and the thing about my jokes is that they don’t hurt anybody. You can say they’re not funny or they’re terrible or they’re good or whatever it is, but they don’t do no harm. But with Congress — every time they make a joke it’s a law. And every time they make a law it’s a joke.
After 32 years at the bar I have reached some conclusions about legislation and the law. First, legislation tends to be a sloppy process. In the hurly-burly of the legislative process, and the hacking and re-writing of proposed legislation, not infrequently the finished product contains parts that do not mesh well with pre-existing laws, portions that make no sense at all or sections that simply are logically inconsistent with other sections. As these laws go into force, most of the time they eventually are challenged by attorneys in law suits and the attorneys wrapped in black, i.e. judges, have to figure out what to do next. Second, a big problem that exists in this area is the doctrine of separation of powers. The courts are not supposed to rewrite legislation passed by a legislature. A whole body of law exists to aid a judge in this thicket called statutory construction. In a few states there are actual statutes governing how a court is to interpret a statute, and some laws actually have sections telling a court, for example, that if it finds that one section of a statute is unconstitutional, then the remainder of the statute will still be in full force and effect. However, most of the time, in both the states and federal judicial systems, the courts rely on prior cases ruling on how courts are to interpret statutes.
One of these rules of construction is that courts will usually not rewrite a statute which is clear in order to produce a new statute that matches legislative intent rather than what is actually written in a statute. Here is a hypothetical example: A state passes legislation that states that all lawyers will appear in court dressed in clown garb. Now in every section of the statute the term “clown garb” is used, except in one section where the term used is “garb”. A court might view this as a simple mistake and say that reading the statute all together, it is clear that attorneys are required to wear clown garb. However, let us say that a preamble to the legislation states that this is being done in order to underline the fact that most attorneys are bozos and therefore should be dressed as Bozo the Clown when they appear in court, but in the body of the statute only the term “clown garb” is used. In that case a court would likely rule that although the legislative intent is clear the court cannot rewrite the legislation and attorneys, as long as they are dressed like any sort of clown and not just as Bozo, may appear in court.
Well, something similar just occurred in regard to that Frankenstein of the legislative process, the Affordable Care Act, i.e. ObamaCare.
When ObamaCare was passed it had 381,517 words in it. It was a poorly crafted piece of legislation with many parts that mesh poorly with other parts, and with existing statutes, and many parts that do not make sense. However, where it has come a cropper is in a section that is clearly written. In Halbig v. Burwell the question was litigated about whether taxpayer subsidies for health insurance were available in the 36 states where the Federal government set up the healthcare exchanges and not the individual State governments. A three judge panel of the Federal DC Circuit Court of Appeals voted three to one that such subsidies were not available because the act as passed by Congress restricted those subsidies to health care insurance purchased through health care exchanges established by the States: Continue reading
HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced her resignation today. Her signature achievement is the disastrous rollout of ObamaCare. She is fleeing a sinking ship as the elections in the fall are shaping up to be a disaster for the Democrats, much of it based on reaction to ObamaCare. That Sebelius has helped destroy the Obama administration, or at least neuter it, I find to be richly ironic.
Sebelius throughout her political career has been a strident, one might say fanatical, supporter of abortion. In 1992 as a member of the Kansas House of Representatives, her support for pro-abortion legislation brought this rebuke from Archbishop Ignatius Strecker. After she was elected as governor, she constantly clashed with Archbishop James Keleher over abortion. On May 9, 2008, Archbishop Naumann announced that Sebelius should refrain from taking communion until she repented of her position in favor of abortion and went to confession.
Sebelius is no ordinary supporter of abortion. She was a close ally of the late Tiller the Killer, otherwise known as Dr. George Tiller, the foremost practitioner until his murder of late term abortions in this country. The ties between Sebelius and Tiller are outlined here. Continue reading
A tribute to just how delusional contemporary liberalism is. Young people do not want to sign up for ObamaCare policies which they view as too expensive, and almost certainly unnecessary for them while they are young and healthy. Solution: have celebrity moms nag them to purchase the insurance and they will sign on in droves! These people truly do believe in unicorns and pixie dust as the solution to real world problems, and that self interest will bow to the lure of second hand celebrity. (At least unicorns and pixies would be entertaining as compared to the wretched video above.) Liberalism since the time of McGovern has been a long revolt against reality, but reality always wins in the end.
My heart bleeds:
Many in New York’s professional and cultural elite have long supported President Obama’s health care plan. But now, to their surprise, thousands of writers, opera singers, music teachers, photographers, doctors, lawyers and others are learning that their health insurance plans are being canceled and they may have to pay more to get comparable coverage, if they can find it.
They are part of an unusual, informal health insurance system that has developed in New York, in which independent practitioners were able to get lower insurance rates through group plans, typically set up by their professional associations or chambers of commerce. That allowed them to avoid the sky-high rates in New York’s individual insurance market, historically among the most expensive in the country.
But under the Affordable Care Act, they will be treated as individuals, responsible for their own insurance policies. For many of them, that is likely to mean they will no longer have access to a wide network of doctors and a range of plans tailored to their needs. And many of them are finding that if they want to keep their premiums from rising, they will have to accept higher deductible and co-pay costs or inferior coverage. Continue reading
Hattip to Erika Johnsen at Hot Air. Even the New York Times is beginning to notice the skyhigh deductibles and co-pays of ObamaCare:
In El Paso, Tex., for example, for a husband and wife both age 35, one of the cheapest plans on the federal exchange, offered by Blue Cross and Blue Shield, has a premium less than $300 a month, but the annual deductible is more than $12,000. For a 45-year-old couple seeking insurance on the federal exchange in Saginaw, Mich., a policy with a premium of $515 a month has a deductible of $10,000.
In Santa Cruz, Calif., where the exchange is run by the state, Robert Aaron, a self-employed 56-year-old engineer, said he was looking for a low-cost plan. The best one he could find had a premium of $488 a month. But the annual deductible was $5,000, and that, he said, “sounds really high.”
“Deductibles for many plans in the insurance exchanges are pretty high,” said Stan Dorn, a health policy expert at the Urban Institute. “These plans are more generous than what’s prevalent in the current individual insurance market, but significantly less generous than most employer-sponsored insurance.”
Caroline F. Pearson, a vice president of Avalere Health, a consulting company that has analyzed hundreds of plans, said: “The premiums are lower than expected, but consumers on the exchange will often face high deductibles and high co-payments for medical services and prescription drugs before they reach the cap on out-of-pocket costs,” $6,350 for an individual and $12,700 for a family. Continue reading
But… but maybe he’s only a little crazy like painters or composers or… or some of those men in Washington.
Mr. Shellhammer, Miracle on 34th Street, (1947)
Something to brighten the Christmas Season courtesy of Mary Katharine Ham at Hot Air:
Capitol Hill staffers are hitting multiple obstacles in trying to enroll in the Obamacare exchange just days before the federal government’s deadline for getting coverage.
They and lawmakers have until Monday to sign up on DC Health Link, the District’s insurance exchange, if they want to maintain the government’s generous employer contribution to their health insurance.
But as crunch time approaches, Democratic and Republican staffers are getting error messages, denials, notices that they’re enrolled in multiple plans and incomplete confirmation — as well as a website that went down briefly Thursday.
Officials at DC Health Link say that they are working quickly to fix each problem. But the snags are causing a lot of frustration and grief.
I feel for anyone who has to go through this process who didn’t have a direct hand in passing this thing. As for the true believers, it is quite useful to have them experience exactly what the rest of America is going through. And, this is what that looks like:
We are in the best of hands.
Rep. John Boehner’s journey through the system has been well documented. It took him 3-4 hours to find out his premiums will double and his co-pays and deductible tripled.
“I’m thrilled to death, as you can tell.”
An amendment to the Affordable Care Act required federal lawmakers and their personal staff to forfeit their government-sponsored health care plans and enroll in state-based insurance exchanges. The goal was to make lawmakers experience what many Americans face in the individual marketplace.
But with the enrollment deadline looming, the complaints are growing louder — and are aimed particularly at the D.C. small-business exchange that members of Congress are supposed to enroll in.
The D.C. exchange’s log-in tool experienced technical difficulties Thursday morning.
“Sigh. I was just in the middle of signing up,” the chief of staff for Sen. Marco Rubio, Florida Republican, tweeted in response to an internal Senate email about the hiccup.
Sen. Ted Cruz’s speechwriter and communications adviser Amanda Carpenter has also been tweeting her experiences. She went to a physical DC Health Link help line offered for staffers after her first online attempt failed. Continue reading
Ed Morrissey at Hot Air reveals what will come as little surprise to those who have been following this story: the administration did not meet its November 30 deadline to fix the ObamaCare website:
Sloane’s description of the improvement boils down to this — you can go farther into the system before it fails. That’s well before anyone can actually enroll. Yesterday, the White House tried to spin the results by claiming that success was sustaining 50,000 concurrent connections in the database, but that’s only success if that’s all the government mandates Americans to do. And this was on a Sunday, the slowest traffic day of the week.
Of course, the mandate is to actually purchase insurance, and the site’s front end isn’t ready to do that on the heavy scale needed to enroll millions of people in the next 22 days in order to meet the requirement. And that’s just the front end, as the New York Times reminds us. The back end is still mostly missing (via Jeff Dunetz):
Weeks of frantic technical work appear to have made the government’s health care website easier for consumers to use. But that does not mean everyone who signs up for insurance can enroll in a health plan.
The problem is that so-called back end systems, which are supposed to deliver consumer information to insurers, still have not been fixed. And with coverage for many people scheduled to begin in just 30 days, insurers are worried the repairs may not be completed in time.
“Until the enrollment process is working from end to end, many consumers will not be able to enroll in coverage,” said Karen M. Ignagni, president of America’s Health Insurance Plans, a trade group.
The issues are vexing and complex. Some insurers say they have been deluged with phone calls from people who believe they have signed up for a particular health plan, only to find that the company has no record of the enrollment. Others say information they received about new enrollees was inaccurate or incomplete, so they had to track down additional data — a laborious task that would not be feasible if data is missing for tens of thousands of consumers.
In still other cases, insurers said, they have not been told how much of a customer’s premium will be subsidized by the government, so they do not know how much to charge the policyholder.
So where does the “mission accomplished” come from?
This is the administration where the DOJ investigates itself, where the State Department runs an investigation on Benghazi without interviewing the Secretary of State, and the head of the NSA appoints the people on a commission to investigate the NSA, of course they would have the people charged with fixing a failed website grading their own performance.
Healthcare.gov is not fixed from the standpoint of the insurance companies, nor has the security infrastructure been fixed, but that doesn’t stop the Administration from praising itself.
It took 42 months to roll out this turkey, and we’re going to be eating leftovers from the failure for months to come … and that doesn’t even include the damage done to coverage for millions of Americans who liked their plans. Continue reading
And you all think that Thanksgiving is about thanking Almighty God and having a great meal! Allahpundit at Hot Air sets us straight:
Believe it or not, these soulless robots have prepared an actual talking-points memo for the occasion replete with tips on how to plan your “talk.” My favorite: “Integrate the talk into family time.” Good advice — and for my money, the more dramatic the integration, the better. When your cousin pulls out baby pictures of her newborn and tries to pass them around, grab her arm gently but firmly and say, “Hey — isn’t there something more important we should be discussing?”
I like the idea that you, by dint of having donated to Obama and happily swallowed endless lies about keeping your plan and your provider network, are necessarily the “voice of reason” at the dinner table this year. In the unlikely event that you find yourself seated across from one of these benighted schmucks, you can play it three ways: One: Deflect. Change the subject. Bring up “The Walking Dead” or how boring the NFL is this year or whether maybe Orwell had a point about statism’s insidious power to dehumanize people by reducing them to cogs in a government propaganda machine. Two: Engage. Ace has prepared a helpful talking-points memo of his own in case you find yourself at a loss upon being pitched on O-Care by the same arrogant little sh*t who called you ignorant for doubting that the program would work at Thanksgiving dinners past. (If Ezra Klein has any conservative relatives, he or she is about to have the best Thanksgiving ever.) Three: If there are people at the table considering buying a plan on the exchange, wait patiently until they’re done cursing Obama for having forced their insurer to cancel their old coverage and then prepare them for how to shop on the exchange. Continue reading
Well it’s a Friday, I will be picking up my son for Thanksgiving Break and then tomorrow, he, my bride and I will be going to Monmouth College to see my daughter performing in A Christmas Carol. Life is good, and the story below makes it even better:
“In a shock to the system, the older staff in my office (folks over 59) have now found out their personal health insurance costs (even with the government contribution) have gone up 3-4 times what they were paying before,” Minh Ta, chief of staff to Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Wis.), wrote to fellow Democratic chiefs of staff in an email message obtained by POLITICO. “Simply unacceptable.” Continue reading
One could not ask for a better symbol of ObamaCare than yesterday when HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, the woman purportedly in charge of this mess, was meeting with ObamaCare “navigators”, and I love the Orwellian implications of that title, and the ObamaCare website crashed.
The remarkable thing about this fiasco on stilts is that the Obama administration knew, or should have known, that the website was not going to work. Obama could have simply announced that he was going to delay the individual mandate for a time period which would have given time to at least make the website operational. Why didn’t they?
Overwhelming hubris I think. Shielded by a sycophantic press from every other disaster that has hit the country under his misrule, I think Obama assumed that this would be the same. Every problem encountered with the website or implementation of ObamaCare could be blamed on those obstructionist Republicans. Indeed, Obama is still trying to do this now, when it is obvious that such an absurd strategy is not working and cannot work.
Obama forgot the first rule of politics: reality always wins in the end. A website that does not work, mass cancellations of insurance policies, sky-rocketing premiums and deductibles, less choice regarding doctors and hospitals, these are the reality of the hilariously named Affordable Care Act. No amount of speeches, no biased news coverage, no liberal true believers on blogs can alter it. Continue reading
In the Carboniferous Epoch we were promised abundance for all,
By robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul;
But, though we had plenty of money, there was nothing our money could buy,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “If you don’t work you die.”
Kipling, The Gods of the Copybook Headings
The ongoing debacle that is ObamaCare just keeps rolling on:
OLYMPIA, Nov. 17.—Jessica Sanford, the Federal Way woman who got a shout-out from President Obama last month with her fan letter for the Affordable Care Act, got a rather rude awakening last week. Turns out she doesn’t qualify for a tax credit after all.
At least that’s what the letter said that she got from the state. Now she says her dream of affordable health insurance has gone poof. She can’t afford it. She’ll have to go without. “I’m really terribly embarrassed,” she says. “It has completely turned around on me. I mean, completely.”
Chalk it up to a bollixed-up state website that apparently still has major problems. Originally it said Sanford and her child would get a whopping tax credit that would reduce their total premium to $169 a month. Now the state is telling her it goofed – twice – and she has to pay full ticket. There may even be a third goof involved: At least one health-insurance broker says she may qualify for a tax credit after all, albeit a small one. Officials at the state Healthplanfinder website could not be contacted Sunday night. But it just goes to show that even in the state of Washington, which has earned national kudos for a health-insurance exchange that seems to function better than the dysfunctional federal website, there are big, big problems.
“They have to own up to what is going on,” Sanford says. “They have to fix it. They can’t just go around and say this is working great. In my opinion they ought to shut it down and just get all of it straightened out.” Continue reading
For decades I was a subscriber to the Chicago Tribune. The traditionally Republican paper in Chicago, for many decades it was the voice of Republicanism, and sometimes conservatism, throughout the Midwest. In the nineties I noticed that The Trib was changing. It was hiring more liberal columnists and the editorials took on an increasingly liberal flavor. The paper would still usually endorse Republicans at election time, but the endorsements were pro forma. Additionally, The Trib rarely had anything to say about the corruption that infested both parties and was busily producing the bankrupt Illinois that exists today. One columnist who was, and is, a bright light at The Trib, John Kass, constantly attacked “the Combine”, as he called it, that ruled both parties and made sure that insiders profited at the expense of the tax payers.
After my family became hooked up to the internet at the end of the nineties, living in a rural area did have its disadvantages back then in reference to obtaining a reliable internet service, I no longer needed The Trib for news, but I kept it out of inertia, although I was extremely unhappy with its increasingly leftist editorial views. The inertia came to an end when The Trib endorsed Obama in 2008. That ended my subscription, along with the subscriptions of quite a few other downstaters. I noticed after the fact that I didn’t miss the paper. It had become an anachronism in the age of the internet. My wife still buys a copy at Thanksgiving for the black Friday ads, but that is the only time a copy of The Trib enters McClarey Manor. The Trib endorsed Obama again in 2012 and its transformation into just another big city liberal rag seemed complete.
I was therefore surprised, and no doubt Obama was also, by The Trib’s editorial last Friday calling for the repeal of ObamaCare:
As Friday dawns, here’s what a health insurance crisis looks like to many millions of Americans: Barely six weeks shy of 2014, they do not know whether they will have medical coverage Jan. 1. Or which hospitals and doctors they might patronize. Or what they may pay to protect themselves and their families against the chance of medical and financial catastrophe. How much, that is, they may pay in order to satisfy the Democratic politicians and federal bureaucrats who are worsening a metastasizing health coverage fiasco.
For perhaps 5 million of those Americans thus far — estimates vary — the Washington-ordered cancellation of their policies is especially maddening. In the past these people took responsibility for their coverage and bought policies that balanced their needs, finances and personal choices. Congress and President Barack Obama, by enacting the Affordable Care Act, in effect ordered insurers to dismantle many of those individual plans — and cancel those policies.
The Americans manhandled by this exercise in government arrogance now find themselves divided into warring tribes: Those with chronic ailments who have found new plans on Obamacare exchanges and are pleased. Those who don’t want or can’t afford the replacement policies Obamacare offers them. Those whose new policies block them from using the health providers who have treated them for many years. The estimated 23 million to 41 million people whose employer-sponsored plans are the next to be imperiled. And on and on.
Most of these tribespeople only wish their big problem was a slipshod Obamacare website. On Thursday, their plight grew more frightful. With even Democratic members of Congress storming the White House over the cancellations, Obama declared — by what legal authority is unclear — that he would overrule the law he signed in 2010 and allow insurers to extend those canceled policies for a year.
If, that is, insurance regulators of the 50 states permit this potential distortion to risk pools inside and outside of Obamacare. The regulators, including those in Illinois, had better put protection ahead of politics: Within two hours of Obama’s announcement, Mike Kreidler, insurance commissioner of Washington, a Democrat-leaning state, rejected the president’s notion, citing “its potential impact on the overall stability of our health insurance market. … We will not be allowing insurance companies to extend their policies.” Continue reading
Since Nixon’s “I am not a crook ” speech during a news conference, the fortieth anniversary of which will be this Sunday, I have never seen a more bizarre Presidential performance than that given by Obama yesterday. In response to overwhelming alarm by Democrats in Congress to the fact that millions of Americans are seeing their insurance policies being cancelled due to ObamaCare, Obama at a news conference on November 14 announced the following:
Already people who have plans that pre-date the Affordable Care Act can keep those plans if they haven’t changed. That was already in the law. That’s what’s called a grandfather clause that was included in the law. Today we’re going to extend that principle both to people whose plans have changed since the law too effect and to people who bought plans since the law took effect.
So state insurance commissioners still have the power to decide what plans can and can’t be sold in their states, but the bottom line is insurers can extend current plans that would otherwise be cancelled into 2014. And Americans whose plans have been cancelled can choose to re-enroll in the same kind of plan.
We’re also requiring insurers to extend current plans to inform their customers about two things: One, that protections — what protections these renewed plans don’t include. Number two, that the marketplace offers new options with better coverage and tax credits that might help you bring down the cost.
So if your received one of these letters I’d encourage you to take a look at the marketplace. Even if the website isn’t working as smoothly as it should be for everybody yet, the plan comparison tool that lets you browse cost for new plans near you is working just fine.
Well, what is wrong with this? The glib answer is everything:
First, it is by no means clear that he has the power to do any of this. The requirements of the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) allow for none of this and Obama’s job title is President not Emperor.
Second, some state insurance commissioners will not allow this to be done. The state insurance commissioner in Washington has already spoken up and said Obama’s policy would lead to great instability in the insurance markets of Washington and Obama’s suggestion is a dead letter in Washington.
Third, the insurance companies have responded and stated that it is impossible for them to comply with the time lines of the Affordable Care Act and do what Obama has said.
Fourth, it is only for one year, so people facing cancellation of insurance policies they like, even if their insurance company offers the same policy, would be facing the same dilemma in a year. Continue reading
Ditto to Jonah Goldberg at National Review Online:
First, the obligatory caveats. It is no laughing matter that millions of Americans’ lives have been thrown into anxious chaos as they lose their health insurance, their doctors, their money, or all three. Nor is it particularly amusing to think of the incredible waste of time and tax dollars that has gone into Obamacare’s construction. And the still-unfolding violence that this misbegotten legislation will visit on the economy and our liberties is not funny either. This very magazine has been downright funereal about the brazen and unconstitutional seizure of one-sixth of the economy, and rightly so.
If you can’t take some joy, some modicum of relief and mirth, in the unprecedentedly spectacular beclowning of the president, his administration, its enablers, and, to no small degree, liberalism itself, then you need to ask yourself why you’re following politics in the first place. Because, frankly, this has been one of the most enjoyable political moments of my lifetime. I wake up in the morning and rush to find my just-delivered newspaper with a joyful expectation of worsening news so intense, I feel like Morgan Freeman should be narrating my trek to the front lawn. Indeed, not since Dan Rather handcuffed himself to a fraudulent typewriter, hurled it into the abyss, and saw his career plummet like Ted Kennedy was behind the wheel have I enjoyed a story more. Continue reading