President Obama’s proposals for health care legislation fiddles and fizzles, hardens disputes with opponents, excludes bridges to agreements, and ignores the root cause of overwhelming public unease. Rather than “change” he continues and exacerbates failure.
Summaries, inadequate, are available from the New York Times and Washington Post. The Washington Post, also, offers – more usefully -- the White House provided sketch of details. All leave out in-depth analysis.
Essentially, Obama’s proposals are compromises between the entirely Democrat House and Senate legislation. It actually increases some taxpayer and industry garnishments to pay for enlarged entitlements, adjusting or delaying some. Similarly, the imposed mandate on the states to fund enlarged Medicaid eligibility is delayed a few years but remains a fiscal time-bomb impacting all other state services and driving tax increases. The penalty on large employers who do not provide medical insurance is slightly eased, for the first 30 employees, but the penalty increased, and it is still a sub rosa “mandate” and economic and competitive burden. Some additional database measures are added to perhaps and marginally combat Medicare fraud.
In essence, the Obama proposals continue on the path of grossly enlarged federal government intrusion into and control of individual choices and states’ variations that fit their circumstances and resources.
Indeed, it goes further than before in adding wholesale federal control over insurance premiums, imposing rates, exploiting ignorant furor at large increases in individual coverage premiums by Wellpoint (Blue Cross) in California. The Associated Press provides, however, some of the facts: the individuals segment is deep in the red; it is unfair for the employer segment or other states’ insured to subsidize it; overall profits are 35th out of 53 industries in the Fortune 500 list. Obama’s proposal only deepens the cost pit for 90+% of insured, while driving private insurers out of business which impels a default to more government-provided and dictated, taxpayer-paid medical plans.
The Obama proposals are meant to bridge differences among Democrats in control of the House and Senate, so they can turn the small procedural loophole of “reconciliation” into an override of all other procedures and precedents, not to mention public opposition. Further, Obama does not mention elements of the House and Senate legislation like wholesale cuts to Medicare spending (primarily of provider reimbursements, already low, which would drive more to not take Medicare patients) thus leaving the cuts included as a false way to mask the enormous budgetary costs because such drastic cuts are politically unlikely to actually occur. Meanwhile, taxes on high earners are increased even further than in the House and Senate bills.
“Reconciliation”, purportedly, allows the House to accept the Senate’s bill. There’s reasonable vote-count doubt about that, as well as legal challenges. President Obama’s proposals are, in effect, a new bill to be agreed by the House and Senate that fiddles with a “reconciliation” ram-through. If the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) provides an estimate of the Obama adjustment proposals together with the remainders of the House and Senate bills, it should be evident that the costs will be much larger, especially if unrealistic ploys are identified and full implementation time periods are included. (See footnote, added)
Obama fails to address the fundamental opposition to vastly increased federal control over 1/6th of the US economy and the lives of 100% of Americans, while deepening the race to national bankruptcy.
Obama fails to address the cost-driver of excess defensive-medicine, by various measures 10-30% of medical spending, that providers use to avoid excessive tort liability. Democrats’ largest contributors and supporters, tort attorneys, are left immunized from impact. Similarly, the impact on rich union benefits – unions being the other largest Democrat contributor base -- is delayed and reduced.
Reductions in the ability to save pretax dollars for health care remain, via health savings accounts and cafeteria plans, reducing individual choice, rather than maintaining or spreading them to more. Taxpayers or insureds who don’t use or support it are still likely to fund abortions. Sponsors of legal immigrants are still able to avoid their promised financial responsibility for legal immigrants’ medical care. Insureds are still unable to choose benefit plans allowed by other states that better fit their needs and budgets.
Obama’s proposals are nothing more than a campaign ploy to appear reasonable but they actually emphasize and enlarge the distance between Democrats’ floundering take-overs and the alternatives or discreet incremental measures that are widely supported.
Obama’s proposals are a transparent and hole-filled veil over what most already recognize as ugly and unacceptable. And, it isn’t closing time, when vision is blurred or judgment desperate. The public isn’t befuddled, and imperiled Congressional Democrats recognize that.
Rather than score, Obama again demonstrates himself as a crassly partisan loser, “arrogant” in the words of Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, when it comes to accomplishing anything beyond words, his words no longer masking his ideologic inability to be practical.
House Republican Leader John Boehner sums Obama’s proposals as an “infomercial,” to be tuned out:
The President has crippled the credibility of this week's summit by proposing the same massive government takeover of health care based on a partisan bill the American people have already rejected. This new Democrats-only backroom deal doubles down on the same failed approach that will drive up premiums, destroy jobs, raise taxes, and slash Medicare benefits.
* The CBO just wrote that President Obama's proposals lack sufficient details to "score" (i.e., cost) it, and even if it did that scoring would take longer than this week, past the so-called TV infomercial "summit." How convenient for hollow proposals to have no relaible numbers. More "ramming" with hidden horns.