Friday, November 01, 2013
Wouldn't It Be Great if We Had an Independent Press?
Politico deigns not to cover the 6 people who signed up for Obamacare on the first day but to pretend that the Republicans' honest opposition to a terrible (in their eyes, and in most Americans' eyes) law is somehow some nefarious plan to sabotage of the law of the land. Title:
The Obamacare Sabotage Campaign
It's by Dee Dee Myers' husband, Princetonian, Todd Purdum of serious political commentariat magazine Vanity Fair. Note that it's not an opinion piece but what now passes for typical political coverage of the news.
Let's see what impeccably sourced evidence the author brings in support of that accusation. First paragraph:
To the undisputed reasons for Obamacare’s rocky rollout — a balky website, muddied White House messaging and sudden sticker shock for individuals forced to buy more expensive health insurance — add a less acknowledged cause: calculated sabotage by Republicans at every step.
It is a "less acknowledged" cause because it doesn't actually exist. Change my mind, Toddo.
That may sound like a left-wing conspiracy theory — and the Obama administration itself is so busy defending the indefensible early failings of its signature program that it has barely tried to make this case. But there is a strong factual basis for such a charge.It sounds like conspiracy theory because it is a silly left wing conspiracy theory. Still waiting for the promised "strong factual basis for such a charge" but I'm perhaps too impatient.
From the moment the bill was introduced, Republican leaders in both houses of Congress announced their intention to kill it. Republican troops pressed this cause all the way to the Supreme Court — which upheld the law, but weakened a key part of it by giving states the option to reject an expansion of Medicaid. The GOP faithful then kept up their crusade past the president’s reelection, in a pattern of “massive resistance” not seen since the Southern states’ defiance of the Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision in 1954.Well, yeah, the Republicans thought, rightly, that it was a horrible bill, and that it was unconstitutional (and they were partly right there). This is called legal opposition. Sabotage, on the other hand, is a crime. I'm not sure Todd knows the difference. Oh, and the obligatory ahistorical racist smear through a comparison of modern Republicans to Southern Democrats a half century ago. Democrats defied for a short time the Brown case's outcome. Republicans championed it. For the moment, however, Todd's still stuck in accusation mode.
The opposition was strategic from the start: Derail President Barack Obama’s biggest ambition, and derail Obama himself. Party leaders enforced discipline, withholding any support for the new law — which passed with only Democratic votes, thus undermining its acceptance. Partisan divisions also meant that Democrats could not pass legislation smoothing out some rough language in the draft bill that passed the Senate. That left the administration forced to fill far more gaps through regulation than it otherwise would have had to do, because attempts — usually routine — to re-open the bill for small changes could have led to wholesale debate in the Senate all over again.
I repeat what rational, honest people already know, legal, political opposition is not sabotage. All Todd's describing here is how the Democrats defied the will of more than half the people in the nation to craft, with no Republican input either sought or allowed, this train wreck legislation. Where's the sabotage? So any well reasoned opposition to any idiotic idea the Democrats come up with is morally and ethically wrong of the Republicans. Is that your point here?
But the bitter fight over passage was only the beginning of the war to stop Obamacare. Most Republican governors declined to create their own state insurance exchanges — an option inserted in the bill in the Senate to appeal to the classic conservative preference for local control — forcing the federal government to take at least partial responsibility for creating marketplaces serving 36 states — far more than ever intended.
When anyone calls action by others a "war" when there are no soldiers, tanks or bombs involved, that person is lying to you. The reason Obamacare allowed the states to opt out of the exchanges was to make the law pass constitutional muster. Where the ACA failed to let the states opt out of Medicaid expansion, it was held unconstitutional. The exchange opt out was a sine qua non from the Democrats well aware that many of the states with Republican governors (that is, most of them) would almost certainly opt out. The intent of the Democrats to have the Republicans just roll over and play nice with a law they all rationally opposed was a fantasy. No evidence of "sabotage" here, just Democrat delusion (from people other than Todd Purdum just then).
Then congressional Republicans refused repeatedly to appropriate dedicated funds to do all that extra work, leaving the Health and Human Services Department and other agencies to cobble together HealthCare.gov by redirecting funds from existing programs. On top of that, nearly half of the states declined to expand their Medicaid programs using federal funds, as the law envisioned.
OK, this is a target rich paragraph. This is an absurd lie that the Republicans defunded the creation of the barely functioning Web site. Let's review well known recent history. There has not been a budget passed by both houses and signed by the President (the erstwhile normal course of business) since before Obamacare was passed. And that change in the normal course of business was completely political and nefarious--the Democrats wanted to hide the scope of their sharp increase of their already bloated spending. The federal government was, therefore, entirely funded by continuing resolutions all during the creation of the super terrific Web site called HealthCare.gov. There was nothing in the CRs passed that defied the funding mandates contained in the ACA. If Todd knows of a CR that frustrated the funding parts of the ACA, let him direct his readers to it. Crickets. And wait, didn't he just admit earlier that the states not being able to opt out of the Medicaid expansion was an unconstitutional grant of federal coercive power. Why yes, he did. So the written-solely-by-Democrats law's plan to force states to expand Medicaid was unconstitutional but it is Republican sabotage that it was so held. This is magical thinking. Also it is completely rational for a state to say 'no, thank you' to expanding Medicaid because in the long run that expansion could well bankrupt the state. So again, this is rational, legal opposition, not illegal action we call sabotage. Darn those Republicans for not just surrendering to the magnificent perfection that the ACA actual isn't.
Then, in the months leading up to the program’s debut, some states refused to do anything at all to educate the public about the law. And congressional Republicans sent so many burdensome queries to local hospitals and nonprofits gearing up to help consumers navigate the new system face-to-face that at least two such groups returned their federal grants and gave up the effort. When the White House let it be known last summer that it was in talks with the National Football League to enlist star athletes to help promote the law, the Senate’s top two Republicans sent the league an ominous letter wondering why it would “risk damaging its inclusive and apolitical brand.” The NFL backed off.So let's review, some of the state which had no state exchanges did nothing to talk about the federal exchanges. Is that a fair summary? Horrid wreckers! And they asked questions of the groups getting ready to do the federal government's job for them? Really, who asked what? Crickets. And some of the groups didn't do it after all. No doubt the change of plan came solely from the questions the Republican posed. It just couldn't be that as the train wreck became impossible to ignore, people made rational choices not to generate negative feelings, from the majority of Americans who really don't like Obamacare, from supporting the train wreck. No, it had to be the Republicans' phone calls and letter. Rational people's will was overcome by irrational hate and sabotage through the Republicans' exercise of their First Amendment rights. There is no other explanation possible.
At this juncture, it is becoming apparent to me that Todd is following point by point the similar themed article by Jonathan Bernstein about which I wrote here. If he's following the journo-list like outline, Todd should talk about the alleged, terrible toll the shut down caused to the already created and supposedly ready to go Web site. Let's see.
The drama culminated on the eve of the open enrollment date of Oct. 1. Congressional Republicans shut down the government, disrupting last-minute planning and limiting the administration’s political ability to prepare the public for the likelihood of potential problems, because it was in a last-ditch fight to defend the president’s biggest legislative accomplishment.
Bingo. I know it is Democrat dogma that the Republicans alone caused the shut down, but, in the real world, I think most people know it takes two not to tango. OK, I'm game, what "last-minute planning" was supposedly disrupted? Did the Democrats know there were problems with the site, which the public needed to be warned about, yet still went stubbornly ahead with the roll out? What was the supposed "last ditch" the Democrats were fighting in? Fighting about what, exactly, the marvelous, wonderful Web site that signed up a mere 6 enrollees the first day? If it is the President's "biggest legislative accomplishment," how did the Administration screw it up so badly? Why then has the government exempted itself from Obamacare's extraordinary beneficence? Why are there people begging for illegal waivers from Obamacare's extraordinary beneficence? Why has the President illegally delayed the employers' mandate for a year (the imposition of which could well throw 97 million people off their employer provided health insurance policies)? Was it the Republicans that caused these things? Really?
I'll note that the only Jonathan Bernstein subject Todd has not covered yet are the lawsuits other than the big state brought constitutional challenge. Let's see if he includes it before the end.
The conservative battle against the Affordable Care Act continues on multiple fronts — including, again, in the courts. A federal district court judge in Washington last week denied the government’s motion to dismiss a lawsuit filed by individuals and businesses from six states. The suit, coordinated by the Washington-based Competitive Enterprise Institute, challenges an IRS ruling that people can get tax credits to subsidize insurance in the federal-run exchanges, not just the state-based ones. Knocking out those subsidies would be a huge blow to the heart of Obamacare’s coverage expansion. Similar cases are pending in other states.Bingo again. Journalists -- a herd, not a pack. This paragraph and the ones I chose not to copy and import all blame the Republicans for pointing out the horrible-as-drafted-solely-by-Democrats flaws in the ACA. Talk about shooting the messenger. Those rascally Republicans should have abandoned all their constitutional principals and just accepted the law of the land as written, no matter how stupidly it was drafted. Darn them for pointing out the Emperor's nakedness!
Obama himself has occasionally expressed frustration at the GOP’s implacable resistance to even the smallest gestures of cooperation on the law.
Let me get this straight. The Republicans were completely shut out of any input into the creation of the ACA. When the Republican leaders tried to reason and negotiate with the President about this, the President told them that he won the election and therefore they could go pound sand for all he cared. There would be no co-operation in drafting the bill, no bi-partisan committee hearings on particular parts of the bill and no chance for the Republicans properly to debate the bill, that is, point out its numerous flaws, before passage along strictly partisan lines. Any attempts by the Republicans to fix the ACA's numerous flaws with new legislation were voted down by the more numerous Democrats in the Senate. (See here). Now that the horrible drafting and unintended (and semi-intended) consequences of its implementation are becoming impossible even for the lap dog press to ignore and the myriad, repeated promises the President made in order to get the bill passed have been exposed beyond a reasonable doubt to have been blatant lies, the Democrats are reduced to whining, why didn't the Republicans help us make the law better?
You're kidding me, right?
As I've said, when the Soviet Union's workers' paradise began inevitably to fail the Commie government began to blame certain people for the failure: Hoarders, Kulaks, Wreckers (Russian for Saboteurs). In reality, it was the anti-human nature system which was the cause of the failure, which was the cause of the lack of production, the lines, the empty shelves, the diminished lives. That fantasy ended with the collapse of the CCCP in 1989-90. It took two generations to prove the Wrecker excuse a lie. Most people know the Hoarder-Wrecker-Saboteur claims of the Democrats vis a vis the ACA are delusional right freakin' now.
(h/t John Nolte)
UPDATE: I have corrected my misspelling of Mr. Purdum's name and added links to the defeat of repairing legislation and to proof that the President's promises were knowing falsehoods, that is, lies.
UPDATE 2: The ACA indeed contained funding for implementing the law to the tune of $1,000,000,000 contained in the Health Insurance Reform Implementation Fund (HIRIF). No bill ever defunded that amount which is certainly enough to make a working Web site and buy some Public Service Announcement Ads with plenty of cash to spare. Here are some private enterprise comparables: "Facebook, which received its first investment in June 2004, operated for a full six years before surpassing the $500 million mark in June 2010. Twitter, created in 2006, managed to get by with only $360.17 million in total funding until a $400 million boost in 2011."
Here's an interesting bit off of CNN, via Instapundit.
If the Republicans had been allowed even limited input, they would now share ownership of this POS, and we'd have to live with it for the foreseeable future. The Dems' arrogance, we may hope, will serve as the foundation of its downfall.
Arnold Kling over at his "askblog" (arnoldkling.com) has a readership that seems knowledgeable about the technology of the website, etc. Here's his most recent post w/ some comments.