Tuesday, November 05, 2013


The Lies About Republican Sabotage Continue

The producer of the unwatchable Rachel Maddow show (and poli sci graduate of Florida International University--a school I had not heard of before), Steve Benen, continues the preposterous meme that it was the Republicans, and not the Democrats--who actually could have had an effect--who ruined the ACA roll out. These journo-list true believer types are nothing if not faithful Myrmidons. Benen's repetition of the Big Lie is titled: Like trying to ‘build a complicated building in a war zone’

I think a more truthful title would have been: Like failing to build a simple Web site in the comfort of a well funded bureaucracy. But I'm just taking the Democrats seriously in their admonition not to use belligerent language when describing peaceful, lawful, political opposition.

He cites the Todd Purdum idiocy about which I wrote here. He really doesn't say a lot new but repeats Toddo repeating Bernstein pretty much point by point. There was one thing newish however. He quotes from and cites a report from the Washington Post which contains this statement:

Tucked within a large bureaucracy, some administration officials believed, the new Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight would be better insulated from the efforts of House Republicans, who were looking for ways to undermine the law. But the most basic reason was financial: Although the statute provided plenty of money to help states build their own insurance exchanges, it included no money for the development of a federal exchange — and Republicans would block any funding attempts. According to one former administration official, Sebelius simply could not scrounge together enough money to keep a group of people developing the exchanges working directly under her.
(Emphasis added).

I don't think that's true. Have the WaPo reporters never heard of the HIRIF? They certainly don't mention it. Look, there are 50 states and DC, which need exchanges. So if the money is available to set up 51 exchanges (and it was), it doesn't matter if the money is spent for state run exchanges or for federally run exchanges in the same state. The money is fungible and there was no restraint on what the HIRIF was used for. Whatever it cost to implement the ACA by constructing the exchanges, that Billion dollars was available to be spent as the Secretary (Sebelius) or the CMS administrator determined.

Here is coverage of how the funding of the roll out was funded (as reported by al Jazeera):

“Because most ACA spending is from mandatory funding or from funds not affected by a lapse in appropriations and because contracts support the call center and website, we expect minimal, if any, impact,” Bill Hall, a spokesman for HHS, told Al Jazeera in an email. “The marketplaces will be open for business (Tuesday), and people will be able to sign up.”
(Emphasis added).

Wanhope that.

And the marketplace was indeed open (kinda) in all 50 states and DC on October 1. Seventeen states and DC set up state run exchanges and twenty-four states let the feds set up exchanges as the law of the land required, and  seven of the remaining nine (mainly in the upper mid-west) have a joint run exchange. Here is the report, from Politico, which purports to claim that there was unlimited funds for paying to create state exchanges, but no money available for paying to set up federal exchanges in states which declined, as the law of the land allowed, to set up state exchanges. This supposed lack of funding was from improper drafting of the legislation with no chance to correct it all was engineered exclusively by Democrats. But notice this language:

“It’s very clear that [the HHS] secretary should ‘use such sums as may be necessary’” for supporting states in creating their exchanges, but it’s “sort of silent” on the federal fallback exchange, said Jon Kingsdale, the founding director of the Massachusetts Connector, who is advising HHS on the creation of the federal exchange.

“What you’d have to do is probably get creative about the financing,” perhaps enticing contractors to do development for free in the expectation that they would get paid once the exchange started collecting fees, Kingsdale said.
(Emphasis added).

Sort of silent on funding means that Sebelius could have used HIRIF money or could have used the money allocated for the creation of state exchanges by dividing it among the 50 states per capita. There was nothing in the ACA for the seven "partnership" exchanges either, but the ones which exist now were created on the fly without statutory mention. If Democrat Sebelius found the creation of the federal exchanges in states underfunded due to bad drafting by other genius class Democrats, and failed to effectuate the federal exchanges properly, how is that the Republicans' fault, exactly?

But I don't read the law that narrowly. Check it out here (it's long). The state exchanges in Sec. 1311 and the federal exchanges are in Sec. 1321. It is true that funding is mentioned in the first and not in the second but there are ample grants of authority to the Secretary to "get 'er done" in Sec. 1321. This is nit-picky stuff, at best. None of it was the Republicans' fault. They were given absolutely no access to the drafting or implementation, such as it is, of the ACA.

Only funding for state exchanges, my wide, white ass.

Mr. Benen twice calls the state's decisions not to set up exchanges "sabotage". No, legal action by the states under the law of the land as drafted exclusively by Democrats (and so mandated by the Constitution). So to follow the opportunities the Constitution required to be placed in the law is sabotage. So if I, chickenhawk that I am, apply for conscientious objector status in the draft in 1970 as the law then allowed and the free expression clause of the First Amendment requires I be able to do, I'm sabotaging the draft? Got it. Doing what my conscience requires and the law allows (through Constitutional requirement) is sabotage? So what is doing an illegal action to hinder the working of the law in a field not protected by the Constitution? Un-sabotage? Super sabotage? Sabotage sabotage, as seriously unfunny comic Whoopie Goldberg might say?

Big finish:

I’d just add that the scope of the GOP’s sabotage campaign is hard to overstate. It includes everything from lawmakers ignoring constituent questions to public misinformation campaigns, discouraging public-private partnerships to denying implementation funds, blocking Medicaid expansion to blocking CMS nominees in the Senate, refusing to create marketplaces to prohibiting “Navigators” from doing their jobs.
I don't think the scope of the Republican Wrecking is hard to overstate; the Democrats who claim it overstate it each and every time. Here is a list of malfeasance sure to chill the heart of even the most stalwart Democrat hack. The Republicans:

1) Ignored constituent questions (the fiends!);

2) waged public misinformation campaigns (there's that faux butch military terminology again);

3) discouraged partnerships (not forbade, just argued against);

4) denied implementation funds (when did any Democrat propose a bill for additional ACA funding?);

5) blocked Medicaid expansion (rationally, and now this is clearly just a recap of the Bernstein/Purdum list of non-horribles);

6) blocked a single nominee to the CMS who was then "recess" appointed anyway;

7) refused, legally, to set up exchanges; and,

8) somehow "prohibited" government employees from helping implement the ACA (no explanation of how and there never has been-- all the journo-list types merely accused the Republicans of talking some people out of helping).

That's it. As weak tit a list of perfectly normal and legal behavior by the minority party as has ever been collated.

I know the pressure is on to deflect blame from our peerless leader, but these accusations from the left are just absurd. As usual. It might be the better course to come clean and admit that the train wreck of Obamacare is all your fault. Americans have a near infinite capacity to forgive, but you have to ask for it and admit you really screwed the pooch. The politically savvy move of admitting errors has the added advantage of being true.You are alienating the independents with these baseless charges. The more you pointlessly whine, the more '14 and '16 elections will slip from your grasp.


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