7

Worse Than Murder, Inc Hardest Hit

 

 

Among the provisions of the ObamaCare repeal and replace legislation passed by two votes in the House yesterday is the defunding of Planned Parenthood Worse Than Murder, Inc.  We will see what the Senate does now, but for now Worse Than Murder, Inc. is in full panic mode as the above video indicates.  Worse Than Murder, Inc is big business and federal funding accounts for about 40% of their annual revenues of 1.3 billion.  Let’s make Bill Gates or some other well-heeled pro-abort pick up the tab instead of the American taxpayer.  The Democrats will fight tooth and nail since to them abortion has become a sacrament, and pro-aborts their main source of money and campaign volunteers.  When Stephen Douglas proposed his Kansas-Nebraska Act he predicted, correctly, that it was going to “raise a hell of a storm”.  We are in for that type of fight.

29

Do It

 

Representative Morris Brooks Jr. (R.Al.) has a simple solution to ObamaCare:

 

“Effective as of Dec. 31, 2017, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is repealed, and the provisions of law amended or repealed by such Act are restored or revived as if such Act had not been enacted.”

 

The mistake of Speaker Paul Ryan in regard to the fiasco over a replacement to ObamaCare was not repealing it first.  If he has any brains, a debatable proposition at this point I am afraid, he will ram this through the House and toss it to the Senate.  Grass roots pressure will be hard for the Republicans in the Senate to ignore to put a stake in this misbegotten exercise in government by wishful thinking.  What comes next?  I would suggest mandatory a la carte insurance policies being offered, no mandated coverage of any conditions and allowance of health insurance policies being offered nationally.

6

People Waking Up

 

 

I recall that when all the rapturous adjectives were applied to Obama in 2008 by the mainstream media and other supporters of the South Side Messiah, I thought that it was going to be fun when he fell flat on his face and some of his supporters began to wake up.  Burke Beu is among those now awake:

ObamaCare is a failure. For anyone who thinks this is a misprint because no Democratic activist would make such a comment, let me add that it is too big, too complicated and too expensive. Without a public option within its network of exchanges, ObamaCare is a giant blank check to the insurance companies that pushed it through Congress. It punishes responsible consumers like me and treats younger individuals as fools who are expected to pay the bills while not paying attention.

Now we learn in videos that came to light this week that Jonathan Gruber, MIT economist and a key architect of the Affordable Care Act, proudly relied on his perceived “stupidity of the American voter” as the basis for designing ObamaCare. Such comments, along with the program’s notoriously dysfunctional website and false assurances that people can keep their previous health plans, are insults to every citizen regardless of party.

Contrary to Medicare, which was quickly accepted at a time of economic vitality as a meaningful complement to Social Security, ObamaCare was the sequel to an overpriced economic stimulus package that didn’t stimulate very much. Those least affected by the recession benefited the most from the stimulus. I think that’s called “trickle-down economics” when Republicans do it, and the economy continues to struggle for good jobs and a real recovery. ObamaCare is part of the problem, not a solution.

For most Democrats in Congress, Medicare was originally a model for health-care reform. Single-payer, universal coverage was the favored approach. Then Republicans let loose the “socialized medicine” boogeyman and Democrats panicked.

Fearful that doing nothing was worse than doing the wrong thing, Democrats gave up on Medicare for the masses and opted for a drastic alternative. ObamaCare is an outrageous combination of private-market inflation, government bureaucracy, excessive mandates and a ridiculously delayed implementation schedule. When the thing finally kicked in, it hit hard—and there is plenty more pain on the way.

Worst of all, ObamaCare looks and feels exactly like what it is: a health-care plan devised by lawyers and corporate executives rather than true health-care providers. Democrats are top-heavy with attorneys, and this hurts the party on many issues. Continue Reading

18

When Congress Makes a Joke, It’s A Law

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.

Will Rogers

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

33

Sebelius Flees Sinking ObamaCare Ship

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

29

ObamaCare: Do It to Shut the Nagging Moms Up

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.

9

Do Not Laugh!

 

 

 

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

1

Yep, the Website Malfunctioning Was the Good News for ObamaCare

 

 

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.”       

By contrast, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, the average deductible in employer-sponsored health plans is $1,135.       

“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

5

Quotes Suitable For Framing: Miracle on 34th Street

 

 

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:

Merry Christmas and happy holidays, Hill staffers!

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:

wpid-Screen-Shot-2013-12-06-at-9.16.25-AM

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

7

Of Course The Website Isn’t Fixed

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 usThe 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.

Jeff wonders where the “Mission Accomplished” banner came from:

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

14

Thanksgiving: Time to Discuss ObamaCare?

 

 

ObamaCare Propaganda Sheet

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?”

Don’t be fazed by the stunned silence that follows. That’s your opening to grab your iPad and start the Powerpoint on enrollment that you’ve prepared.

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

2

Maybe We Should Take Up a Collection?

 

 

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:

Veteran House Democratic aides are sick over the insurance prices they’ll pay under Obamacare, and they’re scrambling to find a cure.

“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

21

ObamaCare Crashes, And So Does Obama

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

5

Oops! You Are Peter!

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

4

Hometown Paper

 

 

 

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

4

The “Fix” That Fixed Nothing

 

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

14

Schadenfreude: Yeah, Me Too

 

obamacare-advances-in-obamacare-political-poster-1298675815

 

Ditto to Jonah Goldberg at National Review Online:

 

To paraphrase Oscar Wilde, you’d have to have a heart of stone not to laugh at the unraveling of Obamacare.

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.

But come on, people.

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

11

Not a Parody

girlsurance

 

Hattip to Instapundit and commenter Nate.  The above is an ad put out by “Thanks ObamaCare”, a group supporting ObamaCare.  I wonder if the young lady will still be smiling when she calculates how much her “free” birth control is costing her.

I actually like the ad.  It conveys the complete and utter contempt that the Obama administration consistently displays for their key voting blocs.  I can imagine the bull session that went into the ad.  “Yeah we have to convince young people to buy insurance that most of them do not need at an inflated price with high deductibles.  How to do this?  I know, we will put out an ad showing a hot guy and a hot gal and link having insurance to “free”  birth control and having sex.  Hey, stop laughing!  I know it’s stupid, but so are our voters!”

4

Is ObamaCare Repeal Coming?

 

 

Steven Hayward at Forbes Magazine makes a bold prediction:  that ObamaCare will be repealed well in advance of the 2014 elections:

 

Senate Democrats endangered for re-election will lead the charge for repeal perhaps as soon as January, after they get an earful over the Christmas break.  They’ll call it “reform,” and clothe it in calls for delaying the individual mandate and allowing people and businesses to keep their existing health insurance policies.  But it is probably too late to go back in many cases.  With the political damage guaranteed to continue, the momentum toward repeal will be unstoppable.  Democrats will not want to face the voters next November with the albatross of Obamacare.

The politics of the repeal effort will be a game theorist’s dream.  Tea Party Republicans will resist “reforms” to Obamacare in favor of complete repeal.  Democrats will try to turn the tables and set up Republicans as obstacles to reform, hoping to inoculate themselves prospectively from mayhem at the polls next November. The House might want to insist that the Senate go first; after all, it was the Senate version of the bill that the House had to swallow after Scott Brown’s election in January 2010.  The House can rightly insist that the Senate needs to clean up the mess they made.  Obama may well give Capitol Hill Democrats a pass on a repeal vote, and veto any bill that emerges.  He’ll never face the voters again.

This wouldn’t be the first time that a health care entitlement was repealed.  The same thing happened in the late 1980s with catastrophic coverage for seniors.  Because seniors were made to pay for their benefits under that scheme, the uproar forced Congress to repeal the measure barely a year after it went into effect.  Obamacare looks to be on the same political trajectory, and for the same reason.  Obamacare represents the crisis of big government; the limits of administrative government have finally been breached.  For the first time ever, some polls are showing a majority of Americans doubting the goal of universal health coverage. Continue Reading

5

41% Hike in Insurance Premiums

 

Obama Remorse

 

Hattip to Mary Katharine Ham at Hot Air.  The good news in regard to ObamaCare just keeps on coming:

Notably, this doesn’t count co-pay and deductible hikes. Avik Roy offers the third in a series of maps meant to show, state by state, the impact of Obamacare on the individual insurance marketplace:

 

One of the fundamental flaws of the Affordable Care Act is that, despite its name, it makes health insurance more expensive. Today, the Manhattan Institute released the most comprehensive analysis yet conducted of premiums under Obamacare for people who shop for coverage on their own. Here’s what we learned. In the average state, Obamacare will increase underlying premiums by 41 percent. As we have long expected, the steepest hikes will be imposed on the healthy, the young, and the male. And Obamacare’s taxpayer-funded subsidies will primarily benefit those nearing retirement—people who, unlike the young, have had their whole lives to save for their health-care needs.

 

Bros hardest hit?

 

Men will face the steepest increases: 77, 37, and 47 percent for 27-year-olds, 40-year-olds, and 64-year-olds, respectively. Women will also face increases, but to a lesser degree: 18%, 28%, and 37% for 27-, 40-, and 64-year-olds.

 

There are several states that will see premium decreases, most of which are benefiting because their individual markets were already highly regulated and expensive. Winners and losers:

 

Eight states will enjoy average premium reductions under Obamacare: New York (-40%), Colorado (-22%), Ohio (-21%), Massachusetts (-20%), New Jersey (-19%), New Hampshire (-18%), Rhode Island (-10%), and Indiana (-3%). Most, but not all, of these states had heavily-regulated individual insurance markets prior to Obamacare, and will therefore benefit from Obamacare’s subsidies, and especially its requirement that everyone purchase health insurance or pay a fine.

The eight states that will face the biggest increases in underlying premiums are largely southern and western states: Nevada (+179%), New Mexico (+142%), Arkansas (+138%), North Carolina (+136%), Vermont (+117%), Georgia (+92%), South Dakota (+77%), and Nebraska (+74%).

 

Other winners: The elderly at the expense of the young. Losers: People who like their doctors and current deductibles. Continue Reading

6

ObamaCare as Cargo Cult

Obama and Friend

 

Daniel Greenfield at Sultan Knish nails it:

Our modernity is style rather than substance. It’s Obama grinning. It’s the right font. It’s the right joke. It’s that sense that X knows what he’s doing because he presents it the right way. There’s nothing particularly modern about that. In most cultures, the illusion of competence trumps the real thing. It’s why so many countries are so badly broken because they go by appearances, rather than by results.

The idea that we should go by results, rather than by processes, by outcomes rather than by appearances, was revolutionary. For most of human history, we were trapped in a cargo cult mode. We did the “right things” not because they led to the right results, but because we had decided that they were the right things. There were many competent people, but they were hamstrung by rigid institutions that made it impossible to go from Point A to Point B in the shortest possible time.

And we’re right back there today. The entire process of ObamaCare was the opposite of going from Point A to Point B. It was the least competent and efficient solution every step of the way. There was no reason to think that its website would be any better. The process that led to it being dumped on the American people was completely devoid of any notion of testing or outcomes. It was the right thing to do because… it was the right thing to do. It was cargo cult logic all the same. So was its website.

Healthcare.gov, like ObamaCare, was going to work because it was “good”. Its goodness was by some measure other than result. It was morally good. It was progressive. And so the deity of liberal causes, perhaps Karl Marx or Progressia, the Goddess of Soup and Economic Dysfunction, would see to it that it would work. Karma would kick in and everything would work out because it had to.

This brand of magical thinking was once commonplace. It still is. And it’s why things so rarely work out in some of the more messed up parts of the world. But the sort of attitude that would once have made anthropologists shake their heads is now commonplace here. Savages in suits, barbarians with iPads are certain that things will work because they have appeased the gods of modernity with their fonts, they have made a website that looks like a functioning website. And like the cargo culters who built fake control towers expecting planes to land, they thought that their website would work.

Competence is built on the unhappy understanding that things won’t work because you want them to, they won’t work if you go through the motions, they will only work if you understand how a thing works and then make it work by building it, by testing it and by expecting failure every step of the way and wrestling with the problem until you get it right. Continue Reading

4

Yep, the Emperor Really is Naked

Snake Oil Salesman

An increasingly desperate President Obama had a speech last week in Boston where he acted as a pitchman for his floundering ObamaCare.  Sarah Palin called it his Sham Wow speech:

President Obama flew in to Boston today to deliver another “ShamWow”-style infomercial for Obamacare, and it went about as well as his entourage’s snarled traffic debacle in Beantown.

As millions of Americans are being kicked off their desired insurance plans and seeing their premiums skyrocket, the President had a lot of ‘splaining to do today. For starters we anticipated a Presidential apology for lying to Americans repeatedly when he promised things like, “If you like your current health care plan, you can keep it.” Make no mistake, he knew he was lying when he said that. And make no further mistake, after five years of false Obama claims, no one should actually expect contrition on this administration’s part.

Bloomberg reports that in June of 2010, the administration knew millions would be kicked off existing healthcare plans due to Obamacare; but President Obama continued to knowingly deceive the American people with repeated claims that if we liked our current plan we could keep it.

So, finally busted, did the President apologize? Was remorse and sympathy shown for Americans who now can’t afford health insurance thanks to Obamacare? Nope. He instead informed us that Americans who receive cancellation notices have been on “substandard” plans supplied by “bad apple” insurers. That’s right. Obama didn’t lie to you when he said, “if you like your plan, you can keep it.” Why? Because, you sillies, you DIDN’T REALLY like the plan you chose for yourselves! No arguing. Barack Obama knows best and he’ll tell you whether you actually liked your insurance plan or not. If you’re an elderly bachelor, your old plan was clearly “substandard” because it didn’t offer maternity care. What’s that you say? You don’t need maternity care? Well, according to the President today, he says you do, and any insurance plan that doesn’t offer it is a “junk” plan provided by a “bad apple” insurer.

Go here to read the rest.  That Palin is calling out Obama is unremarkable.  What is remarkable is that some of the media are beginning to act as if they are not simply unpaid Obama press agents.  ABC News in regard to the same speech: Continue Reading

4

Joe Biden Explains It All

I, and doubtless other fans of Veep and beloved National Clown Joe Biden, have been waiting breathlessly for Joe’s take on the ObamaCare rollout debacle.  He explained that neither he nor the President are technology geeks.  Say it ain’t so Joe!  A hall mark of this administration has been its appeal to tech loving young, and now to have revealed that the men at the head of the administration are so technologically clueless that they took three years and half a billion dollars to construct a website that would have been a disgrace circa 1995 is a crushing blow.  I know Joe!  Call upon one of your predecessors Al Gore.  Since he invented the internet, I am sure that he will be able to lead the repairs on the website so that it performs at a 1999, heck maybe even a 2000, level.  Then perhaps it will be able to enroll 12 people on its first day of operation rather than the 6 people the current web site did during its first day. Everything is going to be fine once Joe puts his mind to it and gets Gore on the job! Continue Reading

10

Obama Lied, Your Insurance Died

Well, the Congress Critters with Ds after their names are beginning to scurry for political cover:

Sen. Mary Landrieu said Wednesday she would propose legislation to ensure all  Americans could keep their existing insurance coverage under Obamacare, a fresh  sign of the political problems the law’s rollout has created for congressional  Democrats.

Landrieu, a Democrat who faces a tough reelection in Louisiana in 2014, said  she would either offer her own bill or formally sign onto another measure that  would ensure that the law would not force anyone off of their existing health  policies. Continue Reading

19

No Snickering While You Read This!

 

 

Well, maybe a little.

“I spent two years defending Obamacare. I had constituents scream at me, spit at me and call me names that I can’t put in print. The congressman was not re-elected in 2010 mainly because of the anti-Obamacare anger. When the congressman was not re-elected, I also (along with the rest of our staff) lost my job. I was upset that because of the health care issue, I didn’t have a job anymore but still defended Obamacare because it would make health care available to everyone at, what I assumed, would be an affordable price. I have now learned that I was wrong. Very wrong.”

For Klinkhamer, 60, President Obama’s oft-repeated words ring in her ears: “If you like your health plan, you will keep it.”

When Klinkhamer lost her congressional job, she had to buy an individual policy on the open market.

Three years ago, it was $225 a month with a $2,500 deductible. Each year it went up a little to, as of Sept. 1, $291 with a $3,500 deductible. Then, a few weeks ago, she got a letter.

“Blue Cross,” she said, “stated my current coverage would expire on Dec. 31, and here are my options: I can have a plan with similar benefits for $647.12 [or] I can have a plan with similar [but higher] pricing for $322.32 but with a $6,500 deductible.”

She went on, “Blue Cross also tells me that if I don’t pick one of the options, they will just assume I want the one for $647. … Someone please tell me why my premium in January will be $356 more than in December?”      

The sticker shock Klinkhamer is experiencing is something millions of individual policyholders are reeling from having gotten similar letters from their private insurers. Continue Reading

6

ObamaCare and the Big Lie

One of the many, many lies that Obama told when he was selling ObamaCare was that if you liked your policy you would get to keep it.

Obama knew that this was a lie when he said it.  ObamaCare was designed to cause people to lose their pre-existing insurance.  NBC, probably the most pro-Obama administration of the three networks, has a story explaining how the hilariously named Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) mandates the loss of such policies:

 

President Obama repeatedly assured Americans that after the Affordable Care Act became law, people who liked their health insurance would be able to keep it. But millions of Americans are getting or are about to get cancellation letters for their health insurance under Obamacare, say experts, and the Obama administration has known that for at least three years.

 

Four sources deeply involved in the Affordable Care Act tell NBC NEWS that 50 to 75 percent of the 14 million consumers who buy their insurance individually can expect to receive a “cancellation” letter or the equivalent over the next year because their existing policies don’t meet the standards mandated by the new health care law. One expert predicts that number could reach as high as 80 percent. And all say that many of those forced to buy pricier new policies will experience “sticker shock.”  

None of this should come as a shock to the Obama administration. The law states that policies in effect as of March 23, 2010 will be “grandfathered,” meaning consumers can keep those policies even though they don’t meet requirements of the new health care law. But the Department of Health and Human Services then wrote regulations that narrowed that provision, by saying that if any part of a policy was significantly changed since that date — the deductible, co-pay, or benefits, for example — the policy would not be grandfathered.

Buried in Obamacare regulations from July 2010 is an estimate that because of normal turnover in the individual insurance market, “40 to 67 percent” of customers will not be able to keep their policy. And because many policies will have been changed since the key date, “the percentage of individual market policies losing grandfather status in a given year exceeds the 40 to 67 percent range.”   Continue Reading

6

Who Needs Fake Horror?

Hattip to Instapundit.  It is deeply ironic that young people, one of the main constituencies that helped elect Obama, will be the ones trying to dig this country out from the effects of this administration long after I am dead and gone.  My condolences to the young people who refused to be scammed, but who are along for a very rocky ride anyway.

18

Democrats in Panic Mode

 

A few Democrats are beginning to understand that ObamaCare is beginning to turn into a political nightmare for them.

Democrats facing difficult reelection campaigns in 2014 — Sens. Mark Pryor of  Arkansas, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Kay Hagan of North Carolina and Mark  Begich of Alaska — came out on Wednesday evening in support of extending the  open enrollment period of the law, as first proposed by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen of  New Hampshire, who is also up for reelection in 2014.

Senate Republicans — and their campaign arm — are seeking to do anything and  everything to tie Democrats like Pryor, Begich and Landrieu to Obamacare,  betting they are on the wrong side of public opinion regarding the health care  law. With web issues continuing to plague people’s abilities to sign up on the  federal exchange, these Democrats are seeking to get ahead of GOP attacks.

Shaheen called the experience of trying to sign up for the insurance  marketplaces “incredibly frustrating and disappointing” and said the system is  “riddled with problems.” In that light, Shaheen wrote a letter to President Barack Obama saying that the open  enrollment period should be pushed past March 31, given that the exchanges  remain weighed down by problems more than three weeks after their rollout.

“I support extending the enrollment period to give people who haven’t had  access or who want more choice enough time to shop from the 40 competitively  priced plans in Louisiana’s marketplace. The administration should consider this  common sense suggestion,” Landrieu said.

Both Begich and Pryor also indicated worry that people would get unfairly  dinged by the $95 penalty if the website problems persist — a scenario that  Manchin and Isakson are drafting legislation to avoid.

“I have repeatedly said this law is not perfect,” Begich said. “Given the  recent website issues, I also support extending open enrollment season. I want  to work with the administration to ensure that individuals are not unfairly  penalized if technical issues with the website continue.” Continue Reading

1

ObamaCare 3.5

ObamaCare 3.5The only reliable source of news on the net, The Onion, reports that the Obama administration has a solution to the computer glitches that have marred the ObamaCare roll out:

 

WASHINGTON—Responding to widespread criticism regarding its health care website, the federal government today unveiled its new, improved Obamacare program, which allows Americans to purchase health insurance after installing a software bundle contained on 35 floppy disks. “I have heard the complaints about the existing website, and I can assure you that with this revised system, finding the right health care option for you and your family is as easy as loading 35 floppy disks sequentially into your disk drive and following the onscreen prompts,” President Obama told reporters this morning, explaining that the nearly three dozen 3.5-inch diskettes contain all the data needed for individuals to enroll in the Health Insurance Marketplace, while noting that the updated Obamacare software is mouse-compatible and requires a 386 Pentium processor with at least 8 MB of system RAM to function properly. Continue Reading

9

Internet Hitler Dismayed by ObamaCare Rollout

I can understand why Internet Hitler is so upset.  Control of medicine is so essential for any group seeking to reshape a nation, as the historical Hitler’s reign so amply demonstrated.  Ah well, as Karl Marx noted, in one of his few on target observations:  History does tend to repeat itself:  the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce. Continue Reading

9

A Republican Defeat?

 

 

From a conservative Republican perspective there seems to be little good from the outcome of the shutdown fight.  ObamaCare remains funded, and that was the chief goal that concerned most conservative Republicans.  However, sometimes it is a good idea to take a look at an event from the eyes of an adversary.  Here is what things look like to liberal Peter Beinart at The Daily Beast:

 

 

 

 

 

Most of the press is missing this because most of the press is covering the current standoff more as politics than policy. If your basic question is “which party is winning?” then it’s easy to see the Republicans as losing, since they’re the ones suffering in the polls. But the partisan balance of power and the ideological balance of power are two completely different things. The Nixon years were terrible for the Democratic Party but quite good for progressive domestic policy. The Clinton years were, in important ways, the reverse. The promise of the Obama presidency was not merely that he’d bring Democrats back to power. It was that he’d usher in the first era of truly progressive public policy in decades. But the survival of Obamacare notwithstanding, Obama’s impending “victory” in the current standoff moves us further away from, not closer to, that goal.

 

7

Obama Administration as the Most Compelling Argument Against Big Government

 

 

 

As a conservative I do appreciate one thing about the Obama administration:  it makes the argument as to the evils of big government far more effectively than ten thousand free market sermons.  Tom Bevan at Real Clear Politics takes a look at the Obamacare roll out, and the unbelievable level of incompetence it betokens:

 

 

Sebelius’ department had 3½ years to prepare to implement the Affordable Care  Act. No one ever suggested that commandeering one-sixth of the American economy  would be an easy task. (Many Republicans suggested the opposite and were  dismissed as killjoys for their efforts.) But after the debacle of the last two  weeks, liberals and Democrats—not conservatives or Republicans—should be calling  for Sebelius’s head.

The administration’s handling of the implementation of Obamacare over the  past three years has been a slow-moving train wreck: a mixture of embarrassing  delays, hard-to-justify waivers, and assorted bad news about the unintended  consequences of the law. Some of this was Sebelius’s fault, some of it was  not.

The crowning blunder came 10 days ago with the rollout of healthcare.gov website, the centerpiece of the administration’s effort to sign individuals up  for coverage through the government-run health care exchanges that are at the  heart of the legislation. To say this was vitally important to the overall  success of the law is an understatement. It is the aspect of Obamacare that the  president himself has said is utterly essential—and backed up those words by  letting the federal government shut down rather that give in to Republican  demands to gut it. Nonetheless, its premiere was a giant flop – and Kathleen  Sebelius is responsible.

The government’s website apparently cost more than $500  million to build—and counting. This is more than LinkedIn, Facebook,  Twitter, Instagram or Spotify, and yet it has been a disaster from the get-go,  freezing, crashing, and locking people out.

The administration’s line is that the website was overwhelmed by surprisingly  strong demand, which they cast as a good thing. Programmers who peeked under the  hood of the website scoffed at that assertion, saying that the site was so  poorly constructed, so full of glitches and buggy code that it could never have  supported even the most modest traffic levels. Some of that code was actually  caused by spelling errors in Javascript. Continue Reading

6

Crazy Times

You know that you are living in crazy times when the major domestic initiative of a Democrat administration since the inaptly named Great Society has a disastrous roll out and the only “journalist” to grill the woman in charge, HHS Secretary Kathleen “Tiller-the-Killer-was-my-friend” Sebelius , is liberal clown Jon Stewart, doing the job the “professional” “journalists” refuse to do. Continue Reading

8

Schadenfreude

 

I really do think that the average Obama voter really did believe that Obamacare would lead to lower health insurance prices, except for mean rich Republicans perhaps.  Many of them are now learning just how wrong they were:

 

 

Cindy Vinson and Tom Waschura are big believers in the Affordable Care Act. They vote independent and are proud to say they helped elect and re-elect President Barack Obama.

Yet, like many other Bay Area residents who pay for their own medical insurance, they were floored last week when they opened their bills: Their policies were being replaced with pricier plans that conform to all the requirements of the new health care law.

Vinson, of San Jose, will pay $1,800 more a year for an individual policy, while Waschura, of Portola Valley, will cough up almost $10,000 more for insurance for his family of four.

********************************************

But people with no pre-existing conditions like Vinson, a 60-year-old retired teacher, and Waschura, a 52-year-old self-employed engineer, are making up the difference.

“I was laughing at Boehner — until the mail came today,”

 “I really don’t like the Republican tactics, but at least now I can understand why they are so pissed about this. When you take $10,000 out of my family’s pocket each year, that’s otherwise disposable income or retirement savings that will not be going into our local economy.”

Both Vinson and Waschura have adjusted gross incomes greater than four times the federal poverty level — the cutoff for a tax credit. And while both said they anticipated their rates would go up, they didn’t realize they would rise so much.

“Of course, I want people to have health care,” Vinson said. “I just didn’t realize I would be the one who was going to pay for it personally.” Continue Reading

8

Various & Sundry, 9/2/13

On the Obligation to Fast 

Pope Francis has declared Saturday, September 7 to be a day of fasting and prayer for peace in Syria. Ed Peters tackles the question of whether we are canonically obligated to fast.

In short, a Catholic who does not observe a fast on Sept 7 does not violate canon law. What such disregard for the pope’s unusual request might indicate about one’s desire to act with the Successor of Peter is another question.

Bwahahahahahaha

Excuse me while I gather myself.

BWHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

No. Seriously. I’m cool.

In what is being reported as a surprise move, the 40,000 members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) announced that they have formally ended their association with the AFL-CIO, one of the nation’s largest private sector unions. The Longshoremen citied Obamacare and immigration reform as two important causes of their disaffiliation.

English Compositionism as Fraud and Failure

A senior lecturer at Santa Clara University takes a look at college level writing instruction and finds it wanting.

Compositionists today are laughingstocks on and off campus, notorious for babbling about “borderlands narratology” and “sustainable digitalized hyper-rhetoric” when students cannot write a coherent paragraph or even use an apostrophe correctly. I can think of no other field, academic or otherwise, in which the uninformed, “amateur” public has such a decisive advantage over guild-certified experts. A three-step program of professional reform follows: (1) dissociate composition teaching from literature teaching, (2) dissociate composition teaching from composition studies and composition theory, and (3) put writing instruction in the hands of practitioners—of whateveracademic training and political leaning—whose only job is to guide student-writers toward proficiency at the level traditionally associated with “higher” education.

And he’s just getting started.

Washington Post Writer Argues that Statutory Rape Ain’t So Bad

No. Really. That’s basically her argument.

To quote Bob Grant, “They’re sick and getting sicker.”

Prettiest Picture of the Day

Courtesy of Creative Minority Report, a wonderful image to close out the day.

 

Various and Sundry, 8/16/13

Egyptian Christians Under Assault

So a religious minority is being systematically attacked, and the news is greeted with crickets by the mainstream American press. But at least Al Jazeera (!) is there to report on it.

Security forces moved to violently disperse two protest camps by supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi in Cairo on Wednesday morning, setting in motion a day of deadly violence that left at least 525 people dead in clashes across the country.

Amid the violence, alleged Morsi supporters carried out on dozens of attacks on churches and Christian-owned properties throughout the country.

Mina Thabet, an activist with Christian rights group the Maspero Youth Union, told Al Jazeera on Friday that at least 32 churches had been “completely destroyed, burned or looted” in eight different governorates over the previous two days. The group also recorded dozens of other attacks on Christian-owned shops, businesses and schools around the country.

Obamacare Pushing Americans into Part-Time Work

Wow, who could have predicted this development? Well, other than pretty much everyone who opposed Obamacare and said this would happen.

The Affordable Care Act requires mid-sized and large employers to sponsor health insurance for all full-time employees, which it defines as those who work 30 hours a week or more. Big labor unions, which had been in favor of the new law, are now sounding the alarm against it. They argue the sticker shock from the premium hikes is leading businesses to offset the impact by capping hours on employees, despite a recently announced one-year delay in that insurance mandate. If workers don’t clock 30 hours a week, the reasoning goes, employers won’t have to offer health insurance.

So the big labor unions who paid thousands to pretend to be pushed their grassroots activists to actively demonstrate their support for the bill are only now realizing that this will hurt their members?

NSA Broke Privacy Rules Thousands of Times

I am not as strongly opposed to the NSA surveillance program as most of you, but this is more than a bit worrisome.

The National Security Agency has broken privacy rules or overstepped its legal authority thousands of times each year since Congress granted the agency broad new powers in 2008, according to an internal audit and other top-secret documents.

Most of the infractions involve unauthorized surveillance of Americans or foreign intelligence targets in the United States, both of which are restricted by statute and executive order. They range from significant violations of law to typographical errors that resulted in unintended interception of U.S. e-mails and telephone calls.

Oddly enough, the typographical errors worry me more, because it signifies how easily your rights can be violated by a mammoth bureaucracy that has little accountability.

As Though TSA Agents Needed Another Excuse

Al-Qaeda’s chief bomb-maker Ibrahim al-Asiri is thought to have developed explosives that can be concealed in implants or bodily cavities and escape detection from airport scanners, according to The Mirror.

One staff member said: “There are genuine fears over this.

“We have been told to pay particular attention to females who may have concealed hidden explosives in their breasts.

Pamela Anderson has jumped to the top of the terrorist watch list.

How the Hobbit Should Have Ended

An alternative vision.

18

Oh Goodie! ObamaCare Won’t Hurt Members of Congress or Their Staffers

 

ALL ANIMALS ARE EQUAL
BUT SOME ANIMALS ARE MORE EQUAL THAN OTHERS.

George Orwell, Animal Farm

 

 

One law for the lords and one for the peasants.  That basically sums up this development on Capitol Hill:

 

 

Lawmakers and staff can breathe easy — their health care tab is not going to  soar next year.

The Office of Personnel Management, under heavy pressure from Capitol Hill,  will issue a ruling that says the government can continue to make a contribution  to the health care premiums of members of Congress and their aides, according to  several Hill sources.

**********************************************

The problem was rooted in the original text of the Affordable Care Act. Sen.  Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) inserted a provision which said members of Congress and  their aides must be covered by plans “created” by the law or “offered through an  exchange.” Until now, OPM had not said if the Federal Employee Health Benefits  Program could contribute premium payments toward plans on the exchange. If  payments stopped, lawmakers and aides would have faced thousands of dollars in  additional premium payments each year. Under the old system, the government  contributed nearly 75 percent of premium payments.

Obama’s involvement in solving this impasse was unusual, to say the least.  But it came after serious griping from both sides of the aisle about the  potential of a “brain drain.” The fear, as told by sources in both parties, was  that aides would head for more lucrative jobs, spooked by the potential for  spiking health premiums. Continue Reading

6

Full Obamacare Implementation Delayed. Again.

When the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) passed it was touted as one of the most significant pieces of legislation in American history. This was going to make health care affordable to every living person in this country. It was of such monumental importance that left-wing Catholics assured us all that it was worth throwing over the unborn in order to continue supporting President Obama. This was the stuff that was gonna help stop the oceans from rising and help create a new Heaven and a new Earth.

In the words of our Catholic Vice President, it was a big effin deal.

Yeah, about that big effin deal:

The Obama administration will delay a crucial provision of its signature health-care law, giving businesses an extra year to comply with a requirement that they provide their workers with insurance.

 

The government will postpone enforcement of the so-called employer mandate until 2015, after the congressional elections, the administration said yesterday. Under the provision, companies with 50 or more workers face a fine of as much as $3,000 per employee if they don’t offer affordable insurance.

 

It’s the latest setback for a health-care law that has met resistance from Republicans, who have sought to make the plan a symbol of government overreach. Republican-controlled legislatures and governors in several states have refused funding to expand Medicaid coverage for the poor and declined to set up exchanges where individuals can buy insurance, leaving the job to the federal government.

 

The delay in the employer mandate addresses complaints from business groups to President Barack Obama’s administration about the burden of the law’s reporting requirements.

 

“The administration has finally recognized the obvious — employers need more time and clarification of the rules of the road before implementing the employer mandate,” Randy Johnson, a senior vice president at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the nation’s largest business lobby, said in an e-mail.

 

Valerie Jarrett, a senior Obama adviser, said in a blog post announcing the move that the administration decided on the delay so officials could simplify reporting requirements and give employers a chance to adjust their health-care coverage.

It’s such a ground-breaking, vitally important law that full implementation keeps getting pushed back further and further in the future. The original provisions largely weren’t even slated to take effect for four years after initial passage. On top of the number of institutions that have requested – and were granted – waivers, this latest news hints at the fact that this law might not be the signature achievement of the human race after all.

It is fitting that this announcement should come on the anniversary of the date in which the Continental Congress voted to declare the thirteen colonies’ independence from Great Britain and King George. After all, imagine the horrors of living under the rule of an administration that could, for example, decide which laws of the United States to defend in Court, or could decide when laws passed by Congress actually took effect.

(By the way, speaking of our establishment of self-rule, Bloomberg should be chided for using the term “fees” above. Chief Justice John Roberts would be very displeased to see such language in reference to Obamacare.)

If nothing else, perhaps this latest development will caution us against passing behemoth-sized legislation that no one has read and that we are urged to pass in order to know what’s in it.

On an unrelated note, the House will take up the Senate’s immigration bill after the recess.

36

IRS Scandal: You Are Going to Love Obamacare!

 

 

This is almost getting farcial.  The IRS bureaucrat in charge of the tax exempt division of the IRS during the persecution of conservative groups is now the head of ObamaCare enforcement for the IRS.

Sarah Ingram

 

The Internal Revenue Service official in charge of the tax-exempt organizations at the time when the unit targeted tea party groups now runs the IRS office responsible for the health care legislation.

Sarah Hall Ingram served as commissioner of the office responsible for tax-exempt organizations between 2009 and 2012. But Ingram has since left that part of the IRS and is now the director of the IRS’ Affordable Care Act office, the IRS confirmed to ABC News today.

Her successor, Joseph Grant, is taking the fall for misdeeds at the scandal-plagued unit between 2010 and 2012. During at least part of that time, Grant served as deputy commissioner of the tax-exempt unit.

Grant announced today that he would retire June 3, despite being appointed as commissioner of the tax-exempt office May 8, a week ago.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell reacted to the revelation in a brief statement late Thursday.

“Stunning, just stunning,” McConnell, R-Ky. stated. Continue Reading

10

Congress Seeking to Exempt Itself From ObamaCare

Yep, ObamaCare is probably worse than its harshest critics contended:

 

Congressional leaders in both parties are engaged in high-level, confidential  talks about exempting lawmakers and Capitol Hill aides from the insurance  exchanges they are mandated to join as part of President Barack Obama’s health  care overhaul, sources in both parties said.

The talks — which involve Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), House  Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), the Obama administration and other top lawmakers — are extraordinarily sensitive, with both sides acutely aware of the potential  for political fallout from giving carve-outs from the hugely controversial law  to 535 lawmakers and thousands of their aides. Discussions have stretched out  for months, sources said. Continue Reading

7

ObamaCare: What a Deal!

 

According to the IRS, the cheapest ObamaCare health care plan for a family of four in 2016 will be $20,000.00 per year.  Penalties for not having health insurance could cost you over two grand.

The examples point to families of four and families of five, both of which the IRS expects in its assumptions to pay a minimum of $20,000 per year for a bronze plan.

“The annual national average bronze plan premium for a family of 5 (2 adults, 3 children) is $20,000,” the regulation says.

Bronze will be the lowest tier health-insurance plan available under Obamacare–after Silver, Gold, and Platinum. Under the law, the penalty for not buying health insurance is supposed to be capped at either the annual average Bronze premium, 2.5 percent of taxable income, or $2,085.00 per family in 2016.

In the new final rules published Wednesday, IRS set in law the rules for implementing the penalty Americans must pay if they fail to obey Obamacare’s mandate to buy insurance.

To help illustrate these rules, the IRS presented examples of different situations families might find themselves in.

In the examples, the IRS assumes that families of five who are uninsured would need to pay an average of $20,000 per year to purchase a Bronze plan in 2016.

Using the conditions laid out in the regulations, the IRS calculates that a family earning $120,000 per year that did not buy insurance would need to pay a “penalty” (a word the IRS still uses despite the Supreme Court ruling that it is in fact a “tax”) of $2,400 in 2016. Continue Reading

14

At Least the SS had Snazzier Uniforms

 

 

 

 

The Nazis began their death march across Europe by killing mentally handicapped Germans in an euthanasia campaign that caused the Lion of Munster, Bishop Von Galen, to preach a sermon which may be read here, and in which he made this statement:

For the past several months it has been reported that, on instructions from Berlin, patients who have been suffering for a long time from apparently incurable diseases have been forcibly removed from homes and clinics. Their relatives are later informed that the patient has died, that the body has been cremated and that the ashes may be claimed. There is little doubt that these numerous cases of unexpected death in the case of the insane are not natural, but often deliberately caused, and result from the belief that it is lawful to take away life which is unworthy of being lived.

This ghastly doctrine tries to justify the murder of blameless men and would seek to give legal sanction to the forcible killing of invalids, cripples, the incurable and the incapacitated. I have discovered that the practice here in Westphalia is to compile lists of such patients who are to be removed elsewhere as ‘unproductive citizens,’ and after a period of time put to death. This very week, the first group of these patients has been sent from the clinic of Marienthal, near Münster.

Hitler and his gang of murderers were stopped at an enormous cost, but Christopher Johnson, a non-Catholic who has taken up the cudgels so often in defense of the Church that I have designated him Defender of the Faith, tells us at Midwest Conservative Journal that the ideas of Der Fuehrer are all the rage in Europe today:

Europe descends further toward the abyss:

Belgium is considering a significant change to its decade-old euthanasia law that would allow minors and Alzheimer’s sufferers to seek permission to die.

The proposed changes to the law were submitted to parliament Tuesday by the Socialist party and are likely to be approved by other parties, although no date has yet been put forward for a parliamentary debate.

“The idea is to update the law to take better account of dramatic situations and extremely harrowing cases we must find a response to,” party leader Thierry Giet said.

The draft legislation calls for “the law to be extended to minors if they are capable of discernment or affected by an incurable illness or suffering that we cannot alleviate.”

Belgium was the second country in the world after the Netherlands to legalise euthanasia in 2002 but it applies only to people over the age of 18.

Socialist Senator Philippe Mahoux, who helped draft the proposed changes, said there had been cases of adolescents who “had the capacity to decide” their future.

He said parliamentarians would also consider extended mercy-killing to people suffering from Alzheiner’s-type illnesses.

No possibility of abuse there.  Meanwhile, the French would like their dying population to snap it up. Continue Reading

6

Socialism and Death Panels

The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama’s “death panel” so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their “level of productivity in society,” whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil.

Sarah Palin after the Supreme Court ruling upholding ObamaCare

As the above video indicates, back in 2009 when Sarah Palin predicted that ObamaCare would end up in death panels for the elderly and for “defective” children like her son Trig, she was widely derided by the unpaid Obama press agents the Mainstream Media.  News from Great Britain tells us just how prescient Palin was.

Sick children are being discharged from NHS  hospitals to die at home or in hospices on controversial ‘death  pathways’.

Until now, end of life regime the Liverpool  Care Pathway was thought to have involved only elderly and terminally-ill  adults.

But the Mail can reveal the practice of  withdrawing food and fluid by tube is being used on young patients as well as  severely disabled newborn babies.

One doctor has admitted starving and  dehydrating ten babies to death in the neonatal unit of one hospital alone.

Writing in a leading medical journal, the physician  revealed the process can take an average of ten days during which a  baby  becomes ‘smaller and shrunken’.

The LCP – on which 130,000 elderly and  terminally-ill adult patients die each year – is now the subject of an  independent inquiry ordered by ministers. Continue Reading

25

Obama’s Psychotic Statements on the HHS Mandate

The Catholic News Agency published some remarks made by President Obama in Denver yesterday (Aug. 9) regarding the HHS contraception mandate that are so deluded and irrational that it becomes difficult to imagine how this country can possibly continue forward. We are dealing now with a level of dishonesty that is so open and aggressive that reasonable discourse, upon which social peace ultimately rests, is fast becoming impossible.

This is what Obama said about Mitt Romney’s opposition to the mandate:

“It would be up to the employer to decide. Your boss, telling you what’s best for your health, your safety,” the president said.

“I don’t think your boss should get to control the health care that you get. I don’t think that insurance companies should control the care that you get. I don’t think politicians should control the care that you get.”

This is Barack Obama speaking. The man whose healthcare vision is about to be foisted on the American people, in which they will be forced to buy health insurance (by politicians, from insurance companies) or face official penalties, just said that he doesn’t think politicians and insurance companies should control the care that we get.

Some statements are so at odds with reality – in this case, a reality established by Obama himself – that they can only be described as psychotic. The psychosis continues with the idea that without the HHS mandate, employers would, and indeed, have been, deciding what is best for their employee’s health. It never entered Obama’s psychotic mind that a desire not to cover what HHS mandates could, and almost always does, revolve around the employer’s desire to avoid something he finds morally objectionable, in which case it has absolutely nothing to do with dictating employee’s health. No, when a man in a position of relative power, the employer, decides what he will and will not pay for his employees to have, it is necessarily an aggressive and unjust exercise of power by the master over the subordinate in the psychotic mind of the president.

It doesn’t matter that on every corner of every major street of every town and city in the United States is a CVS, Walgreens, Rite Aid or local drug store that is brimming with contraceptives that are legal for anyone to purchase. It doesn’t matter that there are clinics that provide abortions and sterilizations for those who want them. It doesn’t matter that there isn’t a single employer in the nation that can legally force people to work for them and thus deny them the opportunity to work for someone who is willing to offer a plan that covers such things. All of these conditions, which collectively taken together, any sane man would recognize as a condition of freedom (at least relatively) as far as health and reproductive choices are concerned, mean nothing to Obama. They mean nothing to the hordes of bleating drones who have dutifully towed the party line on this issue either.

The layers of insanity go even deeper. Obama himself has created the conditions under which businesses with 50 or more employees must eventually provide health insurance (by 2014). He has forced this responsibility onto the employers of America. He then proceeds not only to insult them with his “you didn’t build that” remarks (some potential business owners won’t be building anything thanks to Obamacare), but to prohibit them from exercising their preferences, moral or otherwise, in how they go about doing it. And yet to hear Obama speak, one might think that employers themselves demanded Obamacare just so they could have power over their employees that they didn’t have before, and that the HHS mandate had to exist for this reason. This isn’t just a false picture of reality, but a deranged one.

Finally, Obama speaks as if employers making decisions about what they will cover or not cover in their health plans is something new, as opposed to the way it has been since health plans came into existence. All this time, apparently, bosses have been dictating to workers what is best for their health by not paying for their condoms and vasectomies. Obama has now freed us from the tyranny of having to pay for certain things we want with our own money. People who view reality this way can’t be reasoned with by people who don’t.

Looking at Obama’s recent rhetoric, a phrase keeps emerging. He keeps referring to America as “one American family”, especially when there is a tragedy in the news. Some commentators are even beginning to see him as a father figure (try not to wretch if you watch the clip). There is no doubt in my mind that he seems himself as the father of the nation, laying down rules for some of his more stubborn children, insisting that they share their toys with one another. That is how he sees the businessmen of America. And as for the religious conservatives, they are the cranky old uncle who is grudgingly tolerated but also increasingly despised by the more content members of Barack’s family. In neither case is there respect for what they do or what they represent. There is no respect for them as autonomous, rational beings with their own convictions. They’re just stubborn children or senile geriatrics, they aren’t mature and rational like Obama and his friends. He isn’t even a politician, not in his own psychotic mind. He is self-excluded from that list of people who want to “control what healthcare we get.” He isn’t controlling us; knowing us better than we know ourselves, he is guiding us, in spite of ourselves. He is our father.

13

ObamaCare and Abortion

Below is an analysis of ObamaCare and abortion that I have written for the summer newsletter of the crisis pregnancy center of which I am Chairman of the Board.  Regular readers will detect a more restrained and “just the facts” presentation than I normally use in my blog posts.  I thought that the change of pace style might be of interest to our faithful readers so I did not modify the analysis for this post.  (Fear not, I will not inflict on the readers of this blog any of my professional scribblings in the law mines, which would be of utility only for readers suffering the pangs of insomnia!)

 

Now that the Supreme Court in a 5-4 vote, courtesy of Chief Justice Roberts switching his vote, has upheld the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, universally better known as ObamaCare, pro-lifers should understand what ObamaCare means in regard to abortion.

 

1.  Abortion surcharge-The Act provides that if an individual is enrolled in an insurance policy that covers elective abortions, each participant in that insurance plan must pay a separate surcharge for the elective abortion coverage.  There is no opt out provision for individuals.  So if a pro-lifer works for a business that provides such an insurance policy, the pro-life employee would have no choice but to pay the abortion surcharge.  The Act forbids insurance companies from advertising that an abortion surcharge is required under the Plan.

2.  Federal Subsidies to Insurance Plans That Provide Abortion  The Act provides for federal subsidies to health insurance plans, including plans that provide coverage for elective abortions,  set up health insurance exchanges created by the states.  The policies provided under the health insurance exchanges may include elective abortion coverage unless a state bans such coverage.  Thus far the following states have banned such coverage:   Arizona, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas,  Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, and Virginia.

3.  ObamaCare and Abortifacients The HHS mandate  requiring “free” coverage for all contraceptive devices, see number 5 below, in virtually all health insurance plans, includes those devices and drugs thought to act as abortifacients. Continue Reading

30

A Ravenclaw, not a Gryffindor (Updated)

For those conservatives tenaciously clinging to the idea that Chief Justice John Roberts is playing some masterful game of chess that will end only with the liberals on the Court, in Congress, and in the White House brought to their knees in humiliating defeat, well, I’m not even sure the Chief is up for a rousing game of checkers. According to Jan Crawford’s piece, Roberts’ change of heart was motivated in large part to concerns over media pressure. So, the Chief Justice of the United States, according to this report, was cowed into upholding Obamacare because he was afraid of how the Court – and especially he – would look.

It has been rightly pointed out that Crawford relied on two anonymous sources, and therefore this story should be taken with some fine grains of salt. It’s certainly a plausible story, but an unconfirmable one.

Fine. It is possible that the Chief Justice wasn’t cowed by media or executive pressure. But even if the Chief Justice was not particularly pressured to decide in favor of Obamacare, it’s not beyond reason to suggest that he was still concerned about the institutional prestige of the Court, as well as a respect for the other two branches of government. Thus he concocted a rather far-fetched legal argument in order to justify declaring as constitutional a statute he knew at heart was not constitutional. So the more charitable interpretation of Roberts’ behavior is not that he’s a coward, but rather an activist who decided to rewrite a statute from the bench in order to avoid embroiling the Court in a partisan political battle.

There is a third option: John Roberts legitimately believed in the argument he made about the statute’s constitutionality.

Which is the option in which the Chief Justice looks like a chess playing genius again?

The title of the post, by the way, comes from my wife’s suggestion that President Bush nominated a Ravenclaw when he should have nominated a Gryffindor. It’s certainly more logical than anything I heard the Chief Justice say last week.

Update: It occurs to me that there is a fourth avenue of “defense,” and that is Roberts made a brilliant political calculation by forcing Obama to defend the health care law as a tax. Put aside the question of whether or not that would be an astute political maneuver. If that were indeed Roberts’ intention, than that hardly speaks well as to his character as Chief Justice. If he decided to uphold the law only to enable its use as a partisan club against the president, then the Chief Justice would have engaged in behavior that would justify his removal from the bench. So his defenders might want to think twice about that line of attack, at least insofar as they posit that he willfully engaged in such politicking.

By the way, if you’re still unsure of what to think of John Roberts’ thought process, look who was helping him along and now has his back.

Kmiec, a rare conservative supporter of Obama in 2008 who served as his ambassador to Malta, said he thinks Roberts sought out Justice Anthony Kennedy’s vote but didn’t spend much time trying to sway Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Alito. Roberts, he said, probably didn’t worry about being punished by the conservatives.

“Roberts is a bigger man than that,” Kmiec said. “He might smile and recognize that was what they were doing, but he’d also just appreciate that was their way of making a statement. But he’d not chase the tail of the dog to try to turn it around.”

Kmiec, who served a resource to Roberts as he lined up his current two-week teaching trip to Malta, said he thinks Roberts would prefer that the story of the court’s internal deliberations get out “rather than keeping it so secret that it’d have caused some hard feelings among the chambers.”

“I think he knows in his heart that he’s reached a good decision for the well-being of the court and I don’t think he’s earned any long-term enmity of the conservatives,” Kmiec said. “If anything, this will give him more bargaining ability for years to come on both sides.”

Well if he’s got Doug Kmiec on his side, what more can a man ask for than that?

36

The Majority Opinion that Became a Dissent

If you had told me before the day started that John Roberts and Anthony Kennedy would have penned differing opinions on the Obamacare case, and that I’d be siding with the latter’s opinion, I would have said that you were nuts. Alas, it appears that John Roberts is the new Anthony Kennedy.

Ed Whelan has speculated that Chief Justice Roberts changed his vote at the last minute, and therefore the dissenting opinion was originally the majority opinion. He has a follow-up post that posits another theory supporting that notion, which also explains how that could be logistically possible. Having now fully digested the dissenting opinion, I am just about 99 percent certain that John Roberts did indeed change his vote, and that the dissenting opinion was the majority opinion until the Chief Justice changed his mind.

Frankly, the dissent just doesn’t read like a dissent at all. As Whelan points out, the dissenting opinion repeatedly alludes to Justice Ginsburg’s opinion as the dissent. In fact, the dissenters barely alludes to the Chief Justice’s opinion at all until the very end. The final couple of pages are a scathing attack on the majority’s opinion, heretofore unmentioned. It certainly seems like the dissenting Justices felt jilted by the Chief Justice, thus the unusually harsh rhetoric of the final few paragraphs of the dissent. Another sign that the dissenters were in the majority comes on the second page: Continue Reading

10

The Chief Justice’s Ruling: A Gross Expansion of Federal Power

Conservatives looking for some kind of victory in today’s decision in National Federation of Independent Business et al. v. Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services, et al. (the Obamacare case) are pointing to two aspects of Chief Justice John Roberts’s rulings. First, a majority of the Court ruled that the individual mandate was unconstitutional under the commerce clause. Second, the Court ruled that the Federal Government could not force the states to expand Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act. Therefore, the Court narrowed the scope of Congressional power in two different arenas.

Indeed, 44 pages of Chief Justice Roberts’ opinion are absolutely constitutionally sound. During the course of the opinion the Chief Justice made the same argument that many individual mandate opponents have been making for months: you cannot create an economic activity in order to regulate it under the commerce clause. “The power to regulate commerce presupposes the existence of commercial activity to be regulated. If the power to ‘regulate’ something included the power to create it, many of the provisions in the Constitution would be superfluous.” The Chief Justice latter adds that the individual mandate “does not regulate an existing commercial activity. It instead compels individuals to become active in commerce by purchasing a product, on the ground that their failure to do so affects interstate commerce.” Construing the Commerce Clause to permit Congress to regulate individuals precisely because they are doing nothing would open a new and potentially vast domain to congressional authority.” Furthermore, “[a]llowing Congress to justify federal regulation by pointing to the effect of inaction on commerce would bring countless decisions an individual could potentially make within the scope of federal regulation, and – under the Government’s theory – empower Congress to make those decisions for him.”

Roberts further tears into the logic of those defending the mandate on commerce clause grounds by pointing out that other activity – such as people not eating a healthy diet – does far more to raise health care costs than does failure to have health insurance. Therefore, under the government’s logic, “Congress could address the diet problem by ordering everyone to buy vegetables.” Therefore, the government’s arguments with regards to the commerce clause are ultimately unsupportable.

The problem with those taking the rosy view; however, is that the Chief Justice’s opinion is 59 pages. The Chief takes a detour roughly halfway through the opinion that is so unfathomable, it almost reads as if an entirely different person wrote the opinion.

Chief Justice Roberts holds that despite the statutory language, the penalty for failure to buy health insurance can more accurately described as a tax. This, despite what the language of the bill actually says, and what President Obama himself even said. And that’s also in contradiction of what had just been argued when discussing the anti-Injunction act. As Carrie Severino puts it:

The main holding of the case is that the mandate is upheld as a proper exercise of the taxing power. This is a decidedly awkward result, as the first section of the result explains that the mandate is not a tax for the purposes of the Anti-Injunction Act. During the oral argument the courtroom erupted in laughter when the solicitor general was asked how he could argue that the mandate was not a tax on Monday but was on Tuesday. In the end, the court chose that implausible — even laughable — result in a fairly explicit attempt to hold the mandate constitutional.

Jeff Goldstein also mocks this bit of legal jujitsu. Intentionalism is a concept that he blogs about frequently, and he rightfully calls out the Chief Justice for his violation of the concept.

According to the CJ, a penalty is indeed a tax when it can be viewed as a tax for purposes of a ruling.  Meaning, a penalty is a tax when a Justice decides to rewrite the law to turn a penalty into a tax.  Which he justifies because the way the penalty looks to him suggests that “reasonable”  people (or philosopher kings) can, if they squint — and if they ignore the intent that turned the law into law in the first place, and turned a set of marks into a set of signs, into language — see a tax.  How that is “reasonable” is anyone’s guess:   we know in no uncertain terms that Obama and the Dems who passed the law didn’t devise the mandate as a tax (despite what they later argued); for one to conclude that it is reasonably possible to “read” a penalty as a tax,  therefore, what c0mes to count as “reasonable” must be redefined as “ignoring what we know to be true”.  And that seems antithetical to “reason.”

Roberts has chosen to see a tax where a penalty was intended — thereby rewriting the law and turning it into a new text, one which he intends, though he incoherently and disingenuously suggests that he is finding meaning in the text that can “reasonably” be ascribed to it.

Roberts justifies this change in terminology by noting that the amount of the penalty that would be levied would not be punitive – in fact the cost of paying the penalty would often be less than the cost of buying health insurance. And since the so-called penalty would not be burdensome, it’s not really penalizing behavior.

Yeah.

But the most egregious aspect of this decision, and one which an astounding number of commentators seem to be missing, is that the Chief Justice has massively expanded the use of the taxing power. Roberts asserts that “taxes that seek to influence conduct are nothing new.” He then rattles off a list of things that are taxed heavily in order to change behavior, including cigarettes. The problem with this is that people have to buy cigarettes in order to be taxed. This “tax” is applied to people who don’t make a purchase. In other words, the federal government is taxing non-activity. It is the same exact logic that the government used to justify the mandate under the commerce clause. All Roberts has done is shift the authority under the Constitution which justifies government intervention.

Then Roberts makes the astounding claim, also amazingly echoed approvingly in certain quarters, that “While the individual mandate clearly aims to induce the purchase of health insurance, it need not be read to declare that failing to do so is unlawful. Neither the Act nor any other law attaches negative legal consequences to not buying health insurance, beyond requiring a payment to the IRS.” (emphasis mine)

I’m actually embarrassed for the Chief Justice here. Surely he is not as incapable of making a logical progression as this statement suggests he is. But let’s make this crystal clear. If you do not purchase health insurance, you will be penalized, err, “taxed.” If you fail to pay that tax at the end of the year, what do you suppose happens to you? Does the IRS send you a series of letters pleading with you to “please, pretty please, with a cherry on top, please pay your tax?” Do they put little frowny faces at the bottom of these letters? Does the Commissioner of the IRS stand outside your window with a boom box blaring “In Your Eyes” by Peter Gabriel, the rain pelting him as he cries out “Please, just pay this tax which, by the way, should in no way be construed as a penalty?”

Oh, that’s right, you go to jail. So you totally have the right to not buy health insurance, and there’s absolutely no punishment for failure to pay the tax. This assumes, of course, you always wanted to share a very small space with a drug dealer named Zeke. Just think of this as a government-funded vacation where you may, or may not, have discomfort walking towards the end of the vacation. You see – what a bargain!

The Chief Justice makes several more spurious claims. He notes that “tax incentives already promote, for example, purchasing homes and professional education.” But tax incentives are reductions in the level of taxation for making certain purchases. Your taxes are not increased when you decide to rent a house instead of purchase one.

Roberts observes that the “Constitution does not guarantee that individuals may avoid taxation through inactivity. A capitation, after all, is a tax that everyone must pay simply for existing, and capitations are expressly contemplated in the Constitution.” Really? The income tax was made allowable only through the 16th Amendment, but it’s not a tax merely for existing. It’s a tax that only applies if you earn money – in other words, it’s a tax that applies only when you engage in the activity of earning your daily bread. It’s not a “mere existence” tax, and it’s certainly not a taxation of non-activity.

According to Article I of the Constitution, Congress has the ability to issue direct taxes apportioned among the several States, but the Chief Justice himself declares that this is not a direct tax.

Section 8 of Article I states:

Clause 1: The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;

Again, I fail to see how that justifies taxation of non-activity. The idea that this kind of tax would have been countenanced by the same people (by and large) who fought the War of Independence is laughable on its face.

Attempts to sugarcoat this opinion are wrongheaded. In many ways, Roberts’ basing his decision on the tax power is worse than if he had relied on the Commerce Clause, for he has actually expanded the reach of the federal government in a way heretofore unseen. It’s true that Roberts and the four dissenters limit the reach of the commerce clause, but in reality they haven’t done much more than what the Rehnquist Court did in the mid-90s in the Lopez and Morrison cases in limiting the scope of the Commerce Clause. No new ground has been broken, and no old precedents were over-ridden. Much the same can be said with respect to the Medicaid ruling. On the other hand, the Chief Justice has broadened the taxing power so that it can now be applied to non-activity. Long story short, the federal government has more power today than it did yesterday. That is the most chilling aspect of this decision.

I believe that the commenter cthemfly25 has it right in the comments on my previous post:

Congress can always use taxing authority to undermine the constitution.  And if a tax can be used to undermine the constitution and modulate and control social behavior, then the all powerful central government can use its unmitigated taxing power to regulate religion (there is no way applying Roberts’ logic that the religious mandate could be struck down), regulate home schooling or private schooling (“taxed” for not teaching homosexual curriculum), regulate the size of families (taxed for having more than two kids), regulate food or beverage consumption (taxed based on calorie intake), regulate fuel consumption (“taxed” for excessive fuel consumption), regulate choice of consumer goods such as vehicles (“taxed” for not purchasing a “green” car),—–regulate from a central authority any human or civic activity under the rubric of “taxation”.

Perhaps the Anti-Federalist Brutus was right, after all, about the taxing power under the Constitution.

This power, exercised without limitation, will introduce itself into every comer of the city, and country — It will wait upon the ladies at their toilett, and will not leave them in any of their domestic concerns; it will accompany them to the ball, the play, and the assembly; it will go with them when they visit, and will, on all occasions, sit beside them in their carriages, nor will it desert them even at church; it will enter the house of every gentleman, watch over his cellar, wait upon his cook in the kitchen, follow the servants into the parlour, preside over the table, and note down all he eats or drinks; it will attend him to his bed-chamber, and watch him while he sleeps; it will take cognizance of the professional man in his office, or his study; it will watch the merchant in the counting-house, or in his store; it will follow the mechanic to his shop, and in his work, and will haunt him in his family, and in his bed; it will be a constant companion of the industrious farmer in all his labour, it will be with him in the house, and in the field, observe the toil of his hands, and the sweat of his brow; it will penetrate into the most obscure cottage; and finally, it will light upon the head of every person in the United States. To all these different classes of people, and in all these circumstances, in which it will attend them, the language in which it will address them, will be GIVE! GIVE!

 

1

ObamaCare Ruling Watch

 

 

When the decision of the Supreme Court is released tomorrow at 9:00 AM Central Time I will do my best to link to the decision and have some commentary, work permitting in the law mines.  Now of course we can only guess what will happen.  Few things are more futile than attempting to guess what a court will do, but it is fun!  I share in the conventional wisdom that the Court will likely strike down the mandate but uphold the rest.  From a political standpoint, although it would be a travesty under the Constitution, I would prefer that the Court uphold the whole thing, since I think it would ignite a firestorm among conservatives and lead to a devastating defeat for Obama in the fall.  Well, we will see what happens tomorrow.