Given this week’s news of yet another delay to yet another Obamacare regulation that just five short years ago was going to literally keep people from dying in the streets, I thought an illustration would be useful. So here it is:
Yep. That’s it. That’s Obamacare in a nutshell.
I first saw this image linked to Obamacare by Twitter user @cuffymeh (#FF) a couple years ago during the 2012 presidential campaign when the first delays and waivers started popping up. I laughed for a good 10 minutes. It perfectly portrays everything about Obamacare in one neat, catastrophic package.
The absurdly huge amount of flame represents the massive size of the failure so far. From waivers, to delays, to implementation, to website failures, to coverage gaps, to state rebukes, to ever-sinking poll numbers. It is uniquely appropriate that there are more flames and smoke than train in the photo.
While it is, of course, a still photo, the train does have a sense of motion, but it seems like a very sluggish, hampered speed. Obamacare has moved just as slowly and ungracefully. Some of the parts that would eventually become the law started being proposed in 2007 even before the 2008 presidential campaign heated up (pun fully intended).
Last week, Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN) introduced the American Job Protection Act to repeal the ObamaCare employer mandate (a.k.a. the pay or play rules, or the employer “shared responsibility” rules). Companion legislation was also introduced in the House on the same day. Full text of the bill is available here.
As FreedomWorks reignites the movement to defund ObamCare in the House as we near the end of the CR on March 27, the American Job Protection Act offers a strong second front against one of ObamaCare’s most damaging provisions. Sadly, full repeal is not politically feasible right now. But that doesn’t mean we can’t keep trying to chip away at its more unpopular provisions through bills like this.
It’s Been Done Already
Let’s not forget that we’ve already repealed some of the nastier programs and mandates in prior legislation. As nicely summarized in this post on Forbes by Grace-Marie Turner, the law’s government takeover of the long-term care industry called the CLASS Act, a major piece in the original legislation, is now history. Other chunks now out for scrap include the burdensome $600 1099 reporting requirement and the odd employee free choice voucher, which would have allowed certain employees to apply their employer health plan contribution to the cost of coverage on the ObamaCare exchange.
When the Affordable Care Act was working its way through Congress, President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats promised that the law would bring down healthcare costs and have a positive impact on the federal budget deficit. Unfortunately, those promises aren’t panning out, according to one of the trustees of Medicare and Social Security, and taxpayers will be worse off.
“Even before the president signed the ACA into law, non-partisan analysts demonstrated that the belief it would reduce federal deficits was based on a misunderstanding of government accounting,” wrote Charles Blahous, a trust of the two major entitlement programs and a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.
“The ACA’s projected savings from Medicare payment reductions were in effect being doubly committed: once to extend Medicare solvency and a second time to fund a massive coverage expansion,” noted Blahous. “Both the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and the Medicare Chief Actuary alerted Congress to the problem at the time.”
“[W]e have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it, away from the fog of the controversy,” claimed then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi just before Congress passed ObamaCare. Since that time Americans have come to realize that what’s in the bill is causing their premiums to skyrocket and putting their current coverage at risk.
Congress has also had to repeal different parts of ObamaCare. In 2011, Congress repealed the 1099 reporting requirement, which would have bogged down small businesses with paperwork. More recently, Congress was able to push through repeal of the costly CLASS Act as part of the “fiscal cliff deal.”
Another part of the law, the medical device tax, is now being targeted for repeal. Back in December, a group of 18 Democrats urged Senate Majority Leader to support a delay in the implementation of the tax, which could lead to the loss of 43,000 jobs.
With ObamaCare headed to the Supreme Court and Democrats supporting repeal of damaging tax and regulatory provisions in the law, Americans continue to sour on President Barack Obama’s key legislative accomplishment; according to a new survey from Gallup:
Given a choice, 47% of Americans favor repealing the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, while 42% want it kept in place. Views on this issue are highly partisan, with Republicans strongly in favor of repeal and the large majority of Democrats wanting the law kept in place.
The Supreme Court announced on Monday that it would review the healthcare law’s constitutionality, a case that is likely to be heard in March, with a ruling issued by next summer. Thus, the law’s ultimate fate may now be in the court’s hands, rather than in Congress’, although it will continue to be a dominant issue in the 2012 presidential campaign. Republicans and conservatives have continued to level criticism against the law since it was passed in March 2010, while President Obama has been just as vigorous in defending its objectives and future benefits.
We all know that ObamaCare is an unpopular law. The more people find out about it, from the individual mandate to the likelihood that all Americans will not keep their insurances policies, to the need for fixes to the law — repeal of the 1099 provision and the unsustainable CLASS Act. But what you may not know is that Democrats are a growing part of the problem for ObamaCare (emphasis mine):
The health care reform law’s popularity hit an all-time low this month, largely driven by Democrats’ eroding confidence in the historic overhaul, according to a new poll released Friday.
Just 34 percent of those surveyed said they have a favorable view of the Affordable Care Act, the lowest ranking in Kaiser Family Foundation’s monthly Health Tracking Poll since the law passed in March 2010. By contrast, 51 percent said they have an unfavorable view.
That’s more lopsided than most of the Kaiser tracking polls have found since President Barack Obama signed the legislation into law. In most cases, the public has been about evenly split in its views of the law.
The big difference this time is that Democrats seem to be souring on the reform law. Even though Democrats remain much more supportive of the law than Republicans, favorability among Democrats dropped from 65 percent to 52 percent over the past month.
There have been other big shifts in opinion in past Kaiser polls — including a surge in the popularity of the law three months after it passed. But this is the first time the favorable views of the law have trailed the unfavorable views by so wide a margin.
Despite the Department of Health and Human Services axing the unsustainable CLASS Act, which was passed as part of ObamaCare last year, the White House says that President Barack Obama will veto any attempt to repeal it:
President Obama is against repealing the health law’s long-term-care CLASS Act and might veto Republican efforts to do so, an administration official tells The Hill, despite the government’s announcement Friday that the program was dead in the water.
“We do not support repeal,” the official said Monday. “Repealing the CLASS Act isn’t necessary or productive. What we should be doing is working together to address the long-term care challenges we face in this country.”
Peter Suderman notes over at Reason that the Congressional Budget Office has laid the path to repealing the law since it won’t result an impact on the deficit, but the position of the White House obviously makes that difficult.
So why not support repeal? We all know the supposed “savings” of ObamaCare weren’t real, which has been acknowledged by Medicare Actuary Richard Foster. The CLASS Act is evidence of that and repealing it would provide Republicans with substantive rhetoric to use against Obama and Democrats showing that the lied to Americans about the program.
While Republicans haven’t been able to repeal ObamaCare in its entirety like they’d hoped, it does continue to fall apart piece by piece as the Obama Administration axed part of the health care reform law at the end of last week:
Late Friday afternoon is the golden hour for making announcements that you hope won’t get much attention. The news coming out of the Department of Health and Human Services right now is no exception: The Obama administration has halted work on health reform’s Community Living Assistance Services and Support, or CLASS, Act after finding it too difficult to implement.
There has always been concern about the CLASS program’s long-term stability. The long-term insurance program relies on voluntary enrollment. If only a small group of unhealthy people — those who anticipate using the services — sign up, the program could quickly destabilize.