It's getting difficult and slinking toward impossible to defend the Affordable Care Act. The latest blow to Democratic candidates, liberal activists, and naïve columnists like me came Monday from the White House, which announced yet another delay in the Obamacare implementation.
For the second time in a year, certain businesses were given more time before being forced to offer health insurance to most of their full-time workers. Employers with 50 to 99 workers were given until 2016 to comply, two years longer than required by law. During a yearlong grace period, larger companies will be required to insure fewer employees than spelled out in the law.
Not coincidentally, the delays punt implementation beyond congressional elections in November, which raises the first problem with defending Obamacare: The White House has politicized its signature policy.
The win-at-all-cost mentality helped create a culture in which a partisan-line vote was deemed sufficient for passing transcendent legislation. It spurred advisers to develop a dishonest talking point—"If you like your health plan, you'll be able to keep your health plan." And political expediency led Obama to repeat the line, over and over and over again, when he knew, or should have known, it was false.
Defending the ACA became painfully harder when online insurance markets were launched from a multi-million-dollar website that didn't work, when autopsies on the administration's actions revealed an epidemic of incompetence that began in the Oval Office and ended with no accountability.
Then officials started fudging numbers and massaging facts to promote implementation, nothing illegal or even extraordinary for this era of spin. But they did more damage to the credibility of ACA advocates.
Finally, there are the ACA rule changes—at least a dozen major adjustments, without congressional approval. J. Mark Iwry, deputy assistant Treasury secretary for health policy, said the administration has broad "authority to grant transition relief" under a section of the Internal Revenue Code that directs the Treasury secretary to "prescribe all needful rules and regulations for the enforcement" of tax obligations, according to The New York Times.
Yes, Obamacare is a tax.
Advocates for a strong executive branch, including me, have given the White House a pass on its rule-making authority, because implementing such a complicated law requires flexibility. But the law may be getting stretched to the point of breaking. Think of the ACA as a game of Jenga: Adjust one piece and the rest are affected; adjust too many and it falls.
If not illegal, the changes are fueling suspicion among Obama-loathing conservatives, and confusion among the rest of us. Even the law's most fervent supporters are frustrated.
Raise your hand if you're glad that Mr. Fournier appears to be on the verge of pulling his head completely out of his arse?
I'm raising mine high and waving it wildly. May more on the left begin the same extraction process.
At the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C. on Thursday, President Barack Obama said that “killing the innocent” is the “ultimate betrayal of God’s will.”
But the president was talking about terrorism, not abortion:
“Extremists succumb to an ignorant nihilism that shows they don’t understand the faiths they claim to profess, for killing the innocent is never fulfilling God’s will. In fact, it is the ultimate betrayal of God’s will,” Obama said.
Then you Mr. Obama are an ultimate betrayer.
Yet Obama is a long-time supporter of abortion rights.
Last April, he became the first sitting president to address Planned Parenthood, thanking conference attendees "for the remarkable work that you’re doing day in, day out in providing quality health care to women all across America." That health care includes abortion. In fact, Planned Parenthood is the nation's largest abortion provider.
In 2008, while running for president, then-Sen. Barack Obama mentioned his own daughters in connection with AIDS, contraception and abortion:
"I've got two daughters, 9 years old and 6 years old. I am going to teach them first of all about values and morals. But if they make a mistake, I don't want them punished with a baby. I don't want them punished with an STD at the age of 16."
At an Oregon fundraiser in July 2012, President Obama once again invoked his daughters as he denounced Republican Mitt Romney for wanting to defund Planned Parenthood:
"I think that's a bad idea," Obama said. "I've got two daughters. I want them to control their own health care choices." (Planned Parenthood talks about choices, it includes abortion.)
Obama's defense of "the innocent" on Thursday was came as he discussed global threats to freedom of religion:
“We see governments engaging in discrimination and violence against the faithful,” Obama said. “We sometimes see religion twisted in an attempt to justify hatred and persecution against other people just because of who they are, how they pray or who they love.
“Old tensions are stoked, fueling conflicts along religious lines as we’ve seen in the Central African Republic recently, even though to harm anyone in the name of faith is to diminish our own relationship with God,” Obama said.
Tell that to the Little Sisters of the Poor, Mr. Ultimate Betrayer.
Anyone who believe this guy to be sincere is a complete idiot. The country was so fooled by this charlatan.
That hard hitting headline you'd expect to read at Fox News or the Washington Times or perhaps The Examiner but instead, you'll find it over at The New York Times:
THE Internet has been abuzz over the spectacle of President Obama and the prime ministers of Britain and Denmark snapping a photo of themselves — a “selfie,” to use the mot du jour — with a smartphone at the memorial service for Nelson Mandela in South Africa on Tuesday.
Leaving aside whether it was appropriate, the moment captured the democratization of image making that is a hallmark of our gadget-filled, technologically rich era.
Manifestly undemocratic, in contrast, is the way Mr. Obama’s administration — in hypocritical defiance of the principles of openness and transparency he campaigned on — has systematically tried to bypass the media by releasing a sanitized visual record of his activities through official photographs and videos, at the expense of independent journalistic access.
The White House-based press corps was prohibited from photographing Mr. Obama on his first day at work in January 2009. Instead, a set of carefully vetted images was released. Since then the press has been allowed to photograph him alone in the Oval Office only twice: in 2009 and in 2010, both times when he was speaking on the phone. Pictures of him at work with his staff in the Oval Office — activities to which previous administrations routinely granted access — have never been allowed.
Instead, here’s how it’s done these days: An event involving the president discharging his official duties is arbitrarily labeled “private,” with media access prohibited. A little while later an official photo is released on the White House Flickr page, or via Twitter to millions of followers. Private? Hardly.
These so-called private events include meetings with world leaders and other visitors of major public interest — just the sorts of activities photojournalists should, and used to, have access to.
By no stretch of the imagination are these images journalism. Rather, they propagate an idealized portrayal of events on Pennsylvania Avenue.
If you take this practice to its logical conclusion, why have news conferences? Why give reporters any access to the White House? It would be easier to just have a daily statement from the president (like his recorded weekly video address) and call it a day. Repressive governments do this all the time.
Young Americans are turning against Barack Obama and Obamacare, according to a new survey of millennials, people between the ages of 18 and 29 who are vital to the fortunes of the president and his signature health care law.
The most startling finding of Harvard University's Institute of Politics: A majority of Americans under age 25--the youngest millennials--would favor throwing Obama out of office.
The results blow a gaping hole in the belief among many Democrats that Obama's two elections signaled a durable grip on the youth vote.
Indeed, millennials are not so hot on their president.
Obama's approval rating among young Americans is just 41 percent, down 11 points from a year ago, and now tracking with all adults. While 55 percent said they voted for Obama in 2012, only 46 percent said they would do so again.
When asked if they would want to recall various elected officials, 45 percent of millennials said they would oust their member of Congress; 52 percent replied "all members of Congress" should go; and 47 percent said they would recall Obama. The recall-Obama figure was even higher among the youngest millennials, ages 18 to 24, at 52 percent.
While there is no provision for a public recall of U.S. presidents, the poll question revealed just how far Obama has fallen in the eyes of young Americans.
IOP director Trey Grayson called the results a "sea change" attributable to the generation's outsized and unmet expectations for Obama, as well as their concerns about the economy, Obamacare and government surveillance.
The survey of 2,089 young adults, conducted Oct. 30 through Nov. 11, spells trouble for the Affordable Care Act. The fragile economics underpinning the law hinge on the willingness of healthy, young Americans to forgo penalties and buy health insurance.
According to the poll, 57 percent of millennials disapprove of Obamacare, with 40 percent saying it will worsen their quality of care and a majority believing it will drive up costs. Only 18 percent say Obamacare will improve their care. Among 18-to-29-year-olds currently without health insurance, less than one-third say they're likely to enroll in the Obamacare exchanges.
Though I pin not my hopes any longer on political solutions, the fact that a majority of young people are recognizing the problems with this administration and their policies can only be seen as a good thing.
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.
Alas, the English language is not well equipped to capture the sensation I’m describing, which is why we must all thank the Germans for giving us the term “schadenfreude” — the joy one feels at the misfortune or failure of others. The primary wellspring of schadenfreude can be attributed to Barack Obama’s hubris — another immigrant word, which means a sinful pride or arrogance that causes someone to believe he has a godlike immunity to the rules of life.
The hubris of our ocean-commanding commander-in-chief surely isn’t news to readers of this website. He’s said that he’s smarter and better than everyone who works for him. His wife informed us that he has “brought us out of the dark and into the light” and that he would fix our broken souls. The man defined sin itself as “being out of alignment with my values.” We may be the ones we’ve been waiting for, but at the same time, everyone has been waiting for him. Or as he put it in 2007, “Every place is Barack Obama country once Barack Obama’s been there.”
In every tale of hubris, the transgressor is eventually slapped across the face with the semi-frozen flounder of reality. The Greeks had a god, Nemesis, whose scythe performed the same function. It was Nemesis who lured Narcissus to the pool where he fell in love with his own reflection. Admittedly, most of Nemesis’s walk-on roles were in the Greek tragedies, but in the modern era, comeuppance-for-the-arrogant is more often found in comedies, and the “rollout” of Healthcare.gov has been downright hilarious. (I put quotation marks around “rollout” because the term implies actual rolling, and this thing has moved as gracefully as a grand piano in a peat bog.) But, as the president says, “it’s more than a website.” Indeed, the whole law is coming apart like a papier-mâché yacht in rough waters. The media feeding frenzy it has triggered from so many journalistic lapdogs has been both so funny and so poignant, it reminds me of nothing more than the climax of the classic film Air Bud, when the lovable basketball-playing golden retriever finally decides to maul the dog-abusing clown.
During the government shutdown, Barack Obama held fast, heroically refusing to give an inch to the hostage-taking, barbaric orcs of the Tea Party who insisted on delaying Obamacare. It was a triumph for the master strategist in the White House, who finally maneuvered the Republicans into revealing their extremism. But we didn’t know something back then: Obama desperately needed a delay of Healthcare.gov. In his arrogance, though, he couldn’t bring himself to admit it. The other possibility is that he is such an incompetent manager, who has cultivated such a culture of yes-men, that he was completely in the dark about the problems. That’s the reigning storyline right now from the White House. Obama was betrayed. “If I had known,” he told his staff, “we could have delayed the website.”
This is how you know we’re in the political sweet spot: when the only plausible excuses for the administration are equally disastrous indictments.
In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, it took about five minutes for liberals to cast the chaos and confusion of the disaster as a searing indictment of not just the Bush administration but of conservatism itself. Whatever the merits of that argument (and there are not many), Katrina was at least a surprise. The October 1 deadline for Obamacare was set by Obama’s own administration years ago — and it caught them completely off guard. The president may now claim that he knew nothing, but he must have wondered why Henry Chao, Healthcare.gov’s chief project manager, set the bar of success at sea level last March: “Let’s just make sure it’s not a Third World experience.” At this point, it could only be more of a Third World experience if Healthcare.gov required enrollees to pay with chickens.
Regardless, if Obama were a tenth as good a politician as he thinks he is, he could have blamed the delay he desperately needed on his political enemies, calling them “hostage-takers” even as he secretly understood they had rescued his most beloved hostage from his own incompetence. Instead, on September 26, he went out and told an adoring audience: “On October 1, millions of Americans . . . will finally be able to buy quality, affordable health insurance. In five days.” “Starting Tuesday,” he added, Americans will be able to “compare and purchase affordable health-insurance plans, side by side, the same way you shop for a plane ticket on Kayak — same way you shop for a TV on Amazon. You just go on and you start looking, and here are all the options.”
Come on, that’s hilarious.
Okay, maybe he didn’t know then what bad shape the website was in. But how to explain the president’s remarks three weeks after the debut of Healthcare.gov? Even if it’s true that the president only hears about bad news from the newspapers, by then the papers were full of reports that Healthcare.gov worked about as well as a Somali superconducting supercollider. Obama knew that Healthcare.gov was a fiasco, and that the “navigators” used the same broken website that consumers had spent days poking at like Chinatown chickens in an abandoned tic-tac-toe machine, desperately but fruitlessly trying to get some reward.
The bishops of this country have just concluded their traditional fall meeting in Baltimore and have spent time on issues important to them and their people: help to those suffering from Typhoon Haiyan; an update on the situation in Haiti; matters of worship and teaching; service to the poor; and comprehensive immigration reform. Among those priorities is the protection of religious freedom, especially as threatened by the HHS mandate.
Pope Francis has reminded us that “In the context of society, there is only one thing which the Church quite clearly demands: the freedom to proclaim the Gospel in its entirety, even when it runs counter to the world, even when it goes against the tide.”
We stand together as pastors charged with proclaiming the Gospel in its entirety. That Gospel calls us to feed the poor, heal the sick, and educate the young, and in so doing witness to our faith in its fullness. Our great ministries of service and our clergy, religious sisters and brothers, and lay faithful, especially those involved in Church apostolates, strive to answer this call every day, and the Constitution and the law protect our freedom to do so.
Yet with its coercive HHS mandate, the government is refusing to uphold its obligation to respect the rights of religious believers. Beginning in March 2012, in United for Religious Freedom, we identified three basic problems with the HHS mandate: it establishes a false architecture of religious liberty that excludes our ministries and so reduces freedom of religion to freedom of worship; it compels our ministries to participate in providing employees with abortifacient drugs and devices, sterilization, and contraception, which violates our deeply-held beliefs; and it compels our faithful people in business to act against our teachings, failing to provide them any exemption at all.
Despite our repeated efforts to work and dialogue toward a solution, those problems remain. Not only does the mandate undermine our ministries’ ability to witness to our faith, which is their core mission, but the penalties it imposes also lay a great burden on those ministries, threatening their very ability to survive and to serve the many who rely on their care.
The current impasse is all the more frustrating because the Catholic Church has long been a leading provider of, and advocate for, accessible, life-affirming health care. We would have preferred to spend these recent past years working toward this shared goal instead of resisting this intrusion into our religious liberty. We have been forced to devote time and resources to a conflict we did not start nor seek.
As the government’s implementation of the mandate against us approaches, we bishops stand united in our resolve to resist this heavy burden and protect our religious freedom. Even as each bishop struggles to address the mandate, together we are striving to develop alternate avenues of response to this difficult situation. We seek to answer the Gospel call to serve our neighbors, meet our obligation to provide our people with just health insurance, protect our religious freedom, and not be coerced to violate our consciences. We remain grateful for the unity we share in this endeavor with Americans of all other faiths, and even with those of no faith at all. It is our hope that our ministries and lay faithful will be able to continue providing insurance in a manner consistent with the faith of our Church. We will continue our efforts in Congress and especially with the promising initiatives in the courts to protect the religious freedom that ensures our ability to fulfill the Gospel by serving the common good.
This resolve is particularly providential on this feast of the patroness of immigrants, St. Frances Xavier Cabrini. She was a brave woman who brought the full vigor of her deep religious faith to the service of the sick, the poor, children, the elderly, and the immigrant. We count on her intercession, as united we obey the command of Jesus to serve the least of our brothers and sisters.