Michael Barone lays into the Obama administration tactics over health care. Gosh, he’d better be careful or he’ll be on the enemies list along with Fox News and other less-than-worthy beings.
Barone calls what they’re doing a version of Chicago brass-knuckles politics. This management style is certainly effective, at least in the short run:
Over the spring and summer, the White House door has been wide open to lobbyists from health care businesses.
- The doctors’ lobby has gotten promises that physician payments won’t be knocked down too much. In return they are expected to lobby for whatever bill the congressional Democrats come up with.
- The pharmaceutical firms’ lobbyist, former House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Billy Tauzin, has gotten assurances that his clients’ business model won’t be wrecked any more than it already has been by stringent regulation. In return the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America is running TV ads for health care reform.
- The health insurance companies were on board too. Until, that is, Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus presented his bill requiring them to cover anyone who applies but exacting only small fines from healthy individuals who decide not to buy insurance until they get sick.
[Oops! Not so fast there]…Since this looked like a quick road to bankruptcy, the health insurers’ lobby commissioned a study that pointed out, correctly I think, that the Baucus bill would increase the cost of insurance to those who already have it.
The insurance companies have been scrambling to escape Obama’s tar-and-feather techniques, but it’s not working. Ask anyone, they’ll tell you how “unfair” the insurance companies are, though they can’t tell you anything about the insurance regulations in their state or why their own health insurance is tied to their job or why they can’t carry their health insurance with them to another state the way they do their car insurance.
Do they think the insurance companies came up with these expensive limits?
So the health insurers have been denounced by White House spokesmen and Democratic congressional leaders as foul fiends and gougers of working families. Prominent Democrats have been talking about revoking insurance companies’ exemption from the antitrust laws (granted so that small firms would have access to data needed to compete with the giants). Translated into Chicagoese: Nice little insurance company you got there. Too bad if something happened to it.
The same treatment is being given to Fox News, which, according to White House spokesmen “is not a news organization.” “Other news organizations, like yours,” Obama consigliere David Axelrod told ABC News, “ought not to treat them that way.” In other words, when Fox breaks the news that the White House green czar is a self-proclaimed “communist” or that operatives of pro-Obama Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now have been aiding and abetting child prostitution, other news outlets should spike the story.
Well, Jake Tapper from ABC had White House Press Secretary Gibbs for lunch on that subject today. The MSM spoke up – of course it would be Tapper! The full court press (so to speak) of the White House against Fox News is be one game the administration may live to regret. The more they attack, the worse they look. Not everything Chicago translates to the larger world.
If it’s so urgent, why would two elections pass before health reform takes effect?
And you’re asking “what do you mean, two elections?? Read on, my dear. This is reality and it’s a train headed down the track you’re on. The fact is Obama & Co. want to tie you to that track: [emphases are mine – D]
Proponents claim we need reform now to solve an immediate health care “crisis.” “If we don’t act, 14,000 Americans will continue to lose their health insurance every single day,” President Obama claimed on July 22.
Yet the bills he urges us to support will not actually provide any health care until 2013 — by which time, if the president’s claim is correct, an additional 17 million Americans will have lost their insurance.
Why the delay? The best way the people have to hold their elected leaders accountable for results is by threatening to withhold their votes. But this bill seems expressly designed to eliminate that source of accountability. By the time Americans experience the effects of this health care bill (except for the tax increases), not only will President Obama have run for re-election, but so will two-thirds of the senators — and every House member will have been up for re-election twice. Their votes on health care reform will be old news. If it goes very badly, it will be too late to vote those responsible out of office.
Furthermore, the House bill leaves all the knotty details and controversial issues to the newly created “Health Choices Commissioner.”
Can you say “Welcome to the Soviet Health Care System of the U.S.”? You know, that’s the kind of health care you pretend to have and the government pretends to provide it. Don’t worry, Comrade, we’ll improvise.
That’s the person whose job it will be to make a lot of our health care choices for us. The Senate Finance Committee (Baucus) proposal gives that authority to the secretary of Health and Human Services. Issues such as whether to:
- Permit people with Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) to retain the high deductible health plans required by the HSA law.
- Allow low-cost catastrophic plans.
- Permit insurance companies to cover treatment of otherwise terminally ill patients.
- Require (or prohibit) coverage of abortion.
- Cover new cancer drugs or controversial procedures like (as the Center for American Progress has called for) transgender operations.
These and other issues will be left to an appointed official.
And if this “appointed official” is anything like some of the questionable choices this administration has made to date…let’s just call it the Dr. Kevorkian Option and be done with this stupid charade.
Elected leaders will never have to face the voters and defend these crucial decisions that affect the life and health of every American, since the decisions will be made by an unelected bureaucrat.
Any representative or senator confronted by an angry constituent could respond, in effect, “I didn’t say grandma couldn’t have a pacemaker. I didn’t deny you that expensive cancer drug. It was the independent, nonpartisan Health Choices Commissioner. Congress — let alone any individual member — can’t micromanage every decision the commissioner makes.”
By pushing the tough decisions onto a bureaucrat — so they don’t have to go on the record by voting — they effectively enact a system that allows them to dodge accountability.
It won’t permit them to dodge it entirely. We will see an endless series of “throw the bums out” until some of the bums finally fix what ObamaCare looks determined to smash into smithereens.