Tuesday, November 18, 2014


The editorial board of The Washington Post is appalled:
In Mr. Obama's own words, acting alone is 'not how our democracy functions'

DEMOCRATS URGING President Obama to "go big" in his executive order on immigration might pause to consider the following scenario:

It is 2017. Newly elected President Ted Cruz (R) insists he has won a mandate to repeal Obamacare. The Senate, narrowly back in Democratic hands, disagrees. Mr. Cruz instructs the Internal Revenue Service not to collect a fine from anyone who opts out of the individual mandate to buy health insurance, thereby neutering a key element of the program. It is a matter of prosecutorial discretion, Mr. Cruz explains; tax cheats are defrauding the government of billions, and he wants the IRS to concentrate on them. Of course, he is willing to modify his order as soon as Congress agrees to fix what he considers a "broken" health system.

That is not a perfect analogy to Mr. Obama's proposed action on immigration. But it captures the unilateral spirit that Mr. Obama seems to have embraced since Republicans swept to victory in the midterm elections. He is vowing to go it alone on immigration. On Iran, he is reportedly designing an agreement that he need not bring to Congress. He already has gone that route on climate change with China....

Mr. Obama may find a constitutional way to rewrite the nation's immigration laws. But in his frustration with democracy, he is likely to prove his point: Unilateralism will not make the system work.
That's really supposed to leave a mark on Obama: Mr. President, the way you're acting reminds us of that crazy bomb-thrower Ted Cruz. But the Post ed board seems to have forgotten that Mitt Romney, the upright, mainstream, sober-sided 2012 Republican presidential nominee. told us many times throughout his campaign that he planned to do something quite similar, also unilaterally, and none of the Beltway insiders currently occupying the fainting couch ever reproved Romney for it:
Gov. Mitt Romney says he has a plan that would allow states to skirt some of the biggest pieces of the health care reform law -- a proposal that could punch gaping holes in the federal law his critics say he inspired.

... Romney would use the law's "state innovation waivers" to allow the states to opt out of some of the most fundamental pieces of the Affordable Care Act: the individual mandate, the health insurance exchanges and the requirements for some employers to provide coverage or face fines, a Romney aide tells POLITICO....

"I'll grant a waiver on Day One to get [repeal] started," Romney said at Tuesday's debate in New Hampshire....

The state waiver provision, sponsored by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), was written into the law to allow states to come up with their own health care reform proposals as long as they meet strict requirements: that they cover as many people as the law would have, be budget neutral and ensure coverage is just as affordable and comprehensive.

The Romney aide said the campaign believes the language is written in a way that gives the HHS secretary enough latitude to read a waiver application in a much more generous way, with few -- if any -- of the same demands. For instance, a requirement to provide "comparable coverage" could be interpreted by the Obama administration as covering the same number of people -- but a Romney adminsitration could interpret it as just ensuring that the same number of plans are available.
Now, maybe the press didn't give Romney a hard time about this because there seemed to be legal limits on how much the law could be gutted under these waivers, and because the waivers wouldn't have taken effect until 2017. The Romney people said, however, that this would at last "provide more certainty to individuals, businesses and states that they would be free of the Obamacare burdens in 2017." The plan was to gut the law to the maximum possible extent that it could be gutted -- unilaterally.

And no one in the chattering classes got the vapors.


That's what Romney planned to do on Day One. After that? Well, as he said in that October 2011 debate:
"On Day One, granting a waiver for all 50 states doesn't stop in its tracks entirely Obamacare. That's why I also say we have to repeal Obamacare, and I will do that on Day Two, with the reconciliation bill, because as you know, it was passed by reconciliation, [with] 51 votes."
And what would that mean exactly?
Even without a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, Republicans could use a process called "reconciliation" to repeal parts of the bill that relate to spending. That could carve out such significant portions as the government subsidy that helps poor people buy the mandatory insurance and the penalty levied against people who don't comply with the mandate.

"What he could do even if he does not have the 60 votes in the Senate, which seems unlikely, is use the budget process to repeal all of the portions of the Affordable Care Act that relate to spending money, which is where all the controversy is," said Gail Wilensky, a senior fellow at Project HOPE who was a top health-care policymaker in both Bush administrations.
That wouldn't have been full repeal, but it really would have gummed up the works:
It turns out that not all of the law can be undone using the budget process. Things like requiring insurers to accept people with preexisting health conditions would almost certainly need the same 60 votes to undo it as they needed to pass it in the first place....

"So now we could be sitting here with reconciliation having stripped out all the money, on Jan. 1 every sick person in America is showing up, getting their guaranteed-issue health insurance, and it's just going to ravage the insurance pools, drive the cost of insurance way high," [Health industry consultant Robert Laszewski] said.
I bring all this up because this week we have Ron Fournier, yet again, arguing that evil Barack Obama and the evil Democrats did an evil thing by passing evil Obamacare without the magic fairy dust of bipartisanship:
On health care, we needed a market-driven plan that decreases the percentage of uninsured Americans without convoluting the U.S. health care system. Just such a plan sprang out of conservative think tanks and was tested by a GOP governor in Massachusetts, Mitt Romney.

Instead of a bipartisan agreement to bring that plan to scale, we got more partisan warfare. The GOP resisted, Obama surrendered his mantle of bipartisanship, and Democrats muscled through a one-sided law that has never been popular with a majority of the public.
But here was Mitt Romney, planning to gut Obamacare first with executive action that bypassed Congress, then with a law passed in Congress on a strictly-line vote -- no "mantle of bipartisanship" there.

And no mainstream chatterer expressed the slightest bit of outrage.


Victor said...

When in doubt, the MSM's answer always is, "IOKIYAR!"

Democrats, you see, are always the divisive ones.

Cerebus said...

When the ebook on The Decline Fall of the American Empire is finally written (long after all of the players are dead and gone), this will be one of the last, sorry chapters.