Last Thursday morning, President Obama issued his latest proclamation in an attempt to save face on his farcical promise. Of course, the “relief” came far too late and with far too many restrictions to have any practical, real-world effect.
It’s become instinctive at this point to assume that every policy decision that comes from the Obama administration is a blatant violation of separation of powers. After all, this is the administration that unilaterally delayed enforcement of Obamacare’s employer mandate in direct violation of the statutory requirements. Many prominent commentators have immediately jumped back on this bandwagon again in this latest Obamacare edict.
But here’s the real legal low-down: President Obama and his executive agencies (HHS/DOL/IRS) have almost unlimited discretion in determining what is considered a “grandfathered health plan.”
In case you missed Meet the Press yesterday, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) was confronted by host David Gregory about a promise she made in 2009, similar to the guarantee made by President Barack Obama, that Americans could keep the plans they have under Obamacare.
Then-Speaker of the House, Pelosi said “if you like [the health plan] you have, and you want to keep, you have the choice to do that.” Gregory noted that President Obama has held himself “accountable” for making such a claim and asked Pelosi, who had a blank look on her face after seeing the clip, if she was accountable for a promise that has been proven false as millions of Americans have lost their health plans.
She had no real defense and pivoted to talking points, hoping that Gregory would allow her to deflect from the issue. He didn’t, and hilarity ensued.
“Well, it’s not that it’s not correct, it’s that if you want to keep it and it’s important for the insurance company to say to people, this is what your plan does, it’s doesn’t prevent you from being discriminated against on the basis of preexisting conditions, lifetime limits, annual limits,” Pelosi said before Gregory cut her off.
There is a bottom line which people understand and the President won’t acknowledge, and that is if the government has decided there has to be minimum requirements in any healthcare plan, so if you have something and you like it, and it doesn’t meet what the government says you have to have, you cannot keep it,” Gregory told Pelosi. “That’s not what you said here.”
“If you have you plan before the enactment of the law in 2010. If you had your plan before,” Pelosi said, defensively. “There is nothing in the law that says you have to.”
As much as President Barack Obama and administration officials don’t want to admit it, the Constitution established three branches of government, all of which have clear and defined roles and are independent of each other, but needed to keep the others in check.
Over the last several decades, the lines between the executive and legislative branches have become increasingly blurred. Presidents have consumed more power and Congress, especially when its controlled by the party occupying the White House, have set idly by while it happens.
But since 2011, when Republicans took control of Congress, President Obama has frequently used this claimed power to create law by executive fiat and, at times, ignore laws passed by the members of a duly elected, equal branch of government. It has created a constitutional crisis.
The latest example of this is President Obama’s “administrative fix” to deal with millions of health plan cancellations caused by Obamacare. Without any constitutional authority to do so, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced, at his direction, that the government would not enforce grandfathered plan regulations for one year, leaving it up to insurers to decide whether or not to participate.
Not only did President Barack Obama tell Americans that they could keep their health plans under Obamacare, he also said on numerous occasions that they could keep their doctors. Like his health plan promise, there was no ambiguity or nuance to the statement.
“Under the reform that I’ve proposed, if you like your doctor, you’ll keep your doctor,” said President Obama on July 29, 2009. “If you like your health care plan, you will keep your plan.”
“If you like your plan, you can keep your plan. If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor,” he said, again, on March 10, 2010. “I’m the father of two young girls –- I don’t want anybody interfering between my family and their doctor.”
Despite that promise by President Obama, many Americans are losing their doctors. The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday that UnitedHealth Group dropped thousands of doctors from its Medicare Advantage network, leaving many seniors without access to the doctors they liked and trusted:
Back in July, the Obama Administration delayed enforcement of Obamacare’s employer mandate for one year, citing concerns from the business community and reports of employers slashing hours in order to avoid the requirement to offer health benefits to workers.
But the delay of the provision hasn’t eased businesses concerns, according to a new poll by Public Opinion Strategies via The Christian Science Monitor, many are still taking steps to mitigate the impact of Obamacare (emphasis added):
Although the provision won’t be enforced until 2015, some employers with 40 to 500 workers have already started adjusting for the new landscape, the survey by Public Opinion Strategies found:
In a 261-257 vote, the House of Representatives passed the Keep Your Health Plan Act, which would allow insurers to extend the policies that had been canceled because they didn’t comply with the mandates and provisions of Obamacare.
The Keep Your Health Plan Act, sponsored by Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), would permit insurers to let consumers keep health plans in effect before January 1, 2013 through 2014. It wouldn’t force insurers to offer the plans, but it would give these plans “grandfathered status,” meaning that they wouldn’t have to compliant with Obamacare’s minimum mandates.
“The president broke his word, had a chance to fix the problem, and only did more damage to his credibility,” said Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) after the passage of the measure. “Today, the House made a big, bipartisan statement about the need to make things right.”
“The Keep Your Health Plan Act represents an important step toward providing relief to those who have lost their plans and face much higher premiums, but the real solution is to scrap the president’s fundamentally-flawed health care law and focus on effective, patient-centered reforms that will protect all Americans from this train wreck,” he added.
The measure would also allow insurers to extend coverage under these plans to new customers, which Democrats complained would undercut the Obamacare.
Thirty-nine House Democrats broke with President Obama and party leaders and supported the measure. Four Republicans voted against it, one of whom was Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA), who explained his vote on his Facebook page.
Call it sour grapes after their candidate lost. Call it dissatisfaction with the Republican establishment. But a group of Tea Party activists are openly boycotting Bradley Byrne, the Republican nominee in Alabama’s First Congressional District, which Democrats think could tilt the race in their favor.
Byrne defeated Dean Young in a special runoff election on November 5, the results of which were much closer than expected. Tea Party activists were drawn to Young, despite his proclivity for making inflammatory statements.
Just after the results came in, Young declared that he wouldn’t back Byrne in the general runoff election against the Democratic nominee, Burton LeFlore, on December 17. Shortly after the runoff, “Boycott Byrne” signs featuring the Gadsden flag began appearing around AL-01, according to Yellowhammer News, an Alabama-based blog.
It was initially suspected that LeFlore was responsible for the signed, but one of Young supporters has since claimed responsibility. Some Alabama-based Republicans understand the Tea Party activists’ frustration with Byrne.
Citing a scandals and failure to comply with congressional investigations, Rep. Pete Olson (R-TX) has announced on Wednesday that he will introduce articles of impeachment against Attorney General Eric Holder:
A group of 11 House Republicans will introduce a resolution Thursday calling for the impeachment of Eric Holder, saying the Attorney General has lost credibility and trust over a string of issues in recent years.
The articles of impeachment, drafted by Rep. Pete Olson of Texas, faults the Attorney General for refusing to comply with a congressional investigation of the botched gun-walking operation known as “Fast and Furious,” led by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms.
“This was not a decision that I made lightly,” Olson said in a statement. “The American people deserve answers and accountability. If the Attorney General refuses to provide answers, then Congress must take action.”
CNN reported last week that Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Florida, was highly involved in this new effort to try and impeach Holder.
Given the mood among House Republican leadership, which wants to avoid any big political battles with President Barack Obama between now and the mid-term election, this isn’t likely to get very far. CNN noted that it the impeachment effort probably won’t get a vote in committee.
Even if it did manage to get out of committee and pass the House of Representatives, the Senate, controlled by Democrats, would never bring it to the floor for a vote. The impeachment effort is, basically, a statement of disapproval against Holder than anything substantive.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) announced on Wednesday that he is backing Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) as he tries to leverage his hold on the nomination of Janet Yellen to serve as the next chair of the Federal Reserve for a vote on legislation that would require an audit of the nation’s central bank.
“I agree with Rand Paul: before the Senate votes on whether to confirm Janet Yellen, we should at the very least allow a vote on the Audit the Fed bill,” said Cruz in a statement from his office. “The Federal Reserve has expanded our money supply by trillions, benefitting Wall Street but making life harder for millions of Americans struggling to make ends meet.”
“Never-ending quantitative easing threatens to undermine the dollar and to drive up prices on everyday goods from food to gasoline to the basic necessities of life. We need to bring transparency to the Fed, so the American people can understand the scope and consequences of its policies,” he added.
Paul announced his intention last month to place a hold on Yellen’s confirmation until Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) allowed the Federal Reserve Transparency Act to come to the floor for a vote.
“I will object to any unanimous consent agreement or the waiver of any rule with respect to the nomination of Dr. Yellen without a vote on S. 209,” Paul told Reid in a letter. “I know you have been a support of similar legislation in the past, and I hope that we can work together to pass this important legislation.”
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) decided to use the story of a Kentucky family yesterday to illustrate how the Affordable Care Act, or ObamaCare, has been hurting common Americans.
He took the story of the Mangiones to the floor of the Senate to explain why President Obama’s promise regarding people’s freedom of choice was misleading at best.
When the President announced that if you liked your insurance plan you would be able to keep it, he ensured the public that our freedom of maintaining a plan granting us the type of coverage we find fitting to our lifestyle would be respected. Now that a small number of Americans are buying insurance through the glitchy heath care exchange website, we are learning that the promise the President made hasn’t been kept.
Because individuals are required by law to purchase insurance plans that cover more than what they are willing to pay for, people’s plans are being canceled for not qualifying under the new health care laws. The same plans President Obama once said individuals could keep, if they liked it.
According to Sen. Paul, the Mangiones “had an individual policy they were happy with. They paid $300 a month.” Once they enrolled for ObamaCare, they learned that “they are now going to be asked to pay $900 a month for things they don’t want and they didn’t choose to have.”
Sen. Paul went on to explain how his own experience with signing up for Obamacare was a failure and how important it is for us to tackle ObamaCare’s freedom of choice problem by keeping the law from hurting more families.