Obama's Weak Defense of Obamacare

Whitehouse.govWhitehouse.govAsked at a press conference today to discuss concerns about whether his administration has the authority to delay Obamacare’s employer mandate, President Obama declined to explain his administration’s authority and instead to simply assert it. But not before casting blame on Republicans. “In a normal political environment,” Obama said, he would have been able to call up House Speaker John Boehner and work out a fix. “We’re not in a normal atmosphere around here when it comes to quote unquote Obamacare. We did have the executive authority to do so.” There you go. Obama says the White House had the authority. Next question?

Actually, wait a minute. Let’s look at this one a little bit more. Did Democrats do anything to help create this abnormal political atmosphere regarding to the health law when they decided to pass a major new entitlement on strict party lines? Supporters of the law typically respond that Republicans wouldn’t have supported any comprehensive Democratic health care overhaul. That may well be true—and it also perhaps a sign that Democrats shouldn’t have passed it, or at least should have known that they would be responsible for making it work, perhaps in the face of ongoing GOP opposition. Relying on cooperation from a fundamentally opposed party seems like poor policy planning.

And anyway, it’s not even true that House Republicans refused to pass legislation lifting the employer mandate. Last month, a majority of House Republicans voted for and passed legislation codifying the administration’s delay of the employer mandate, in conjunction with a bill to similarly delay the individual mandate to purchase insurance. A majority of Democrats, meanwhile, voted against both bills. Obama himself threatened to veto both pieces of legislation should they come to his desk.

Obama also claimed that when the health law opens for enrollment, it will offer individuals who currently do no carry insurance the opportunity to buy plans “at a significantly cheaper rate than what they can get right now on the individual market.” That will likely be the case for some number of older and sicker individuals, but it is certainly not true for everyone who might buy insurance through the exchanges. In many states, younger, healthier individuals will end up either paying a penalty or buying plans that are more expensive than the cheapest plans they can buy on the market today. Obamacare’s defenders sometimes note that, thanks to the law’s benefits rules, plans bought on the exchanges will be more robust than many inexpensive plans are now. For anyone who might be concerned about cost—which, thanks to the mandate requiring people to purchase insurance, could be millions of people—misses the point. More expansive, more expensive coverage is still more expensive.

Obama’s sharpest words at the press conference were reserved for Republicans who wanted to block his health law, a goal he described as the GOP’s “number one priority” and its “holy grail.” In particular, he lambasted Republicans for opposing his plan without a replacement. “There’s not even a pretense now, that they’re going to replace it with something better,” Obama said. Insofar as he means that the GOP is not broadly united around a health reform plan of its own, that is true, and I believe it represents a decades-long failure on the part of Republicans. But the lack of a consensus alternative is not exactly a strong affirmative argument in favor of the president’s health law. The GOP’s mistakes do not justify the president’s bad law.

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  • Dave Krueger||

    Supporters of the law typically respond that Republicans wouldn’t have supported any comprehensive Democratic health care overhaul.

    That's true. But, let's remember that Republicans weren't rejecting health care reform. They just wanted it to be their health care reform. Republicans have already proven that they are more than willing to expand the government's role in health care as long as it satisfies their patron saints. In other words, the entire health care debate is just a conflict between two slightly different flavors of corruption.

  • The Immaculate Trouser||

    Not really. 8 years of government control, and Republican actions on the healthcare front were limited to passing Medicare Pt D.

    Republicans have been far too divided on health care reform (in both good ways and bad ways) to be characterized as equivalent on the subject to Dems (who have been for large scale government-led health care reform efforts since the late 80s).

  • John Thacker||

    Not really. 8 years of government control, and Republican actions on the healthcare front were limited to passing Medicare Pt D.

    And creating HSAs, which were part of the same bill, and used to buy off the votes of enough Republicans to get the bill passed, with the "something'll pass anyway, so do you want the bill to have HSAs in it, or do you want the Democratic bill to pass?" argument.

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    Team Blue despises HSA's. Imagine, people saving money and planning for future responsibilities. The horror! Krugman is NOT pleased...

  • Calidissident||

    Well at the time, Medicare Part D was the biggest expansion of government in the health care industry since the creation of Medicare/Medicaid

  • Boisfeuras||

    Not really. 8 years of government control, and Republican actions on the healthcare front were limited to passing Medicare Pt D.

    The GOP only held both chambers of Congress for four years of the Bush administration (2003-2007).

  • Dave Krueger||

    Not really. 8 years of government control, and Republican actions on the healthcare front were limited to passing Medicare Pt D.

    Part D was huge. It doesn't belong in the same sentence with "limited".

    In any case, much of the republican rhetoric in opposition to Obamacare was about how they had a better idea. They had their own plans for healthcare reform and it sure as hell wasn't going to be a free market solution.

    You can split hairs all you want, the current state of government domination of healthcare happened at the enthusiastic behest of both parties.

  • Sevo||

    ..."he would have been able to call up House Speaker John Boehner and work out a fix"...

    At least he got the noun right.

  • ||

    Obama’s sharpest words at the press conference were reserved for Republicans who wanted to block his health law, a goal he described as the GOP’s “number one priority” and its “holy grail.” In particular, he lambasted Republicans for opposing his plan without a replacement.

    This is far too kind. Actually, in particular, in lambasted Republicans for making it their No. 1 goal to prevent 15 million Americans from getting health care and to take away benefits from children, aka 25-year-olds with shitty jobs. It was revolting.

  • Almanian!||

    Didn't he mention killing kittehs and puppehs, too? Cause I'm pretty sure that's part of the Teathugs' agenda, too.

  • ||

    aka 25-year-olds with shitty jobs.

    25 year old with shitty jobs who could still easily pay for catastrophic care health insurance yet instead choose to buy beer, cloths and the latest smart phones.

  • XM||

    If you sacrifice your smart phone (and the 80 monthly payment, plus whatever fee you pay for the cursed ipad), the tech industry will crumble and Americans jobs will be lost.

  • Juice||

    15 million? What happened to 50 million?

  • TheTreeOfLiberty||

    "We’re not in a normal atmosphere around here when it comes to quote unquote Obamacare. We did have the executive authority to do so.”

    What else could he do? I mean give the guy a break, dragging us unbelieving infidel neanderthals into socialist paradise is a thankless job. The progressive man's burden is a heavy load indeed.

  • BigT||

    "We’re not in a normal atmosphere around here when it comes to quote unquote Obamacare. We did have the executive authority to do so.”

    We can do whatever the hell we damned well please!!

    FYTW!!

  • mulp||

    Well, Bush decided not to enforce the Clean Air Act by issuing regulations, and it took Democrats suing the Bush administration almost a decade to win the Supreme Court a mandate that the EPA had to issue regulations. Those regulation have still not been issued as required by the law passed in 1970 and amended in 1990, and the Republicans in Congress are opposed to any regulations being issued by the EPA as required by law as interpreted by the Supreme Court.

    So, a one year delay on the IRS issuing the complex regulations enforcing the Obamacare mandate for is surely something that Republicans will support given they are opposed to all of the regulations that Obama's administration has been issued as required by laws passed by Congress over the past half century or so.

    If only the Clinton administration had issued more EPA regulations controlling CO2 emissions, because clearly it was wrong to not enforce the law immediately, right?

  • John Thacker||

    So, a one year delay on the IRS issuing the complex regulations enforcing the Obamacare mandate for is surely something that Republicans will support

    Indeed, they do. Which is why they passed a bill specifically authorizing the President's action. Which he threatened to veto for... I'm not sure why.

  • Hopfiend||

    How many divisions does the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court have? Zero. Nuff said. That is the extent of the executive logic.

  • Tony||

    Did Democrats do anything to help create this abnormal political atmosphere regarding to the health law when they decided to pass a major new entitlement on strict party lines?

    No. The action was an attempt to fix a problem the country has. The reaction was what was abnormal. Unless you think total hysteria is normal.

  • Hopfiend||

    of course you don't think so. Solid team blue. That's fine if it works for you but the mere fact that you presuppose without any evidence that the Democrat party acted in good faith either before or after the passage of the bill, not really logical either.

  • Tony||

    ?

  • BigT||

    Louisiana purchase, Cornhusker kickback, and reconciliation were all extra-legal, and now we're finding out what shit is in it. Rebellions were started for less.

  • cw||

    Vapid, as usual.

  • ||

    The reaction was what was abnormal.

    Obamacare is unpopular. Its unpopularity can't be blamed on republicans because they are pretty unpopular as well.

    Try again.

  • Tony||

    It's unpopular because of both people like me who think it's a corporatist half-measure that should be replaced by an obviously needed single-payer system, and because of hysterical conservatives who don't like it because Rush Limbaugh told them to have that opinion. Nevertheless, its individual components are quite popular. Call something the devil long enough and some people will simply think it's the devil. Now what's your plan to fix the fact that Americans pay twice the cost other countries' citizens pay for healthcare for no good reason?

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    obviously needed single-payer system

    Classic question-begging.

    Now what's your plan to fix the fact that Americans pay twice the cost other countries' citizens pay for healthcare for no good reason?

    Go back to a cash-based system, back when the cost of a live birth and two days in a private room was 10% of what it is now, inflation-adjusted.

  • ||

    Also what the fuck.

    "an attempt to fix a problem"

    It would seem you agree that it will not fix it.

    So how is it abnormal to fix the fix that does not work?

    By your own weird metric Obama is being abnormal by opposing the fix of the fix.

  • Sevo||

    Tony| 8.9.13 @ 5:56PM |#
    ..."No. The action was an attempt to fix a problem the country has."...

    So admit it's a failure and repeal it.

  • Tony||

    This opinion is totally, 100%, without question, vapid politics. If Obamacare is the devil because of government involvement then why aren't you first directing your hysteria in the direction of Medicare, a single-payer system? Because Barack Obama's name isn't attached to that. Don't give me simplistic GOP talking points if you want me to take you seriously as a libertarian. There is a problem. What do you propose to fix it? And if the word "catastrophic" shows up in your answer I will stop reading. It's a hand wave.

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    If Obamacare is the devil because of government involvement then why aren't you first directing your hysteria in the direction of Medicare, a single-payer system?

    Medicare hundreds of billions in the hole. Of course it needs to be discarded.

  • MJGreen||

    Repealing PPACA is an attempt to fix a problem the country has. Why is the President being such an obstructionist?

  • Tony||

    The problem being that Obama has a major legislative victory under his belt and Republicans can't stop whining about it? What a vital matter of national interest.

  • fish||

    Go pop in your 6 inch pacifier and crawl back into the bowels of Oklohoma so the adults can chat.

  • FYTW||

    The attempt failed. Fuck off.

  • John Thacker||

    And anyway, it’s not even true that House Republicans refused to pass legislation lifting the employer mandate. Last month, a majority of House Republicans voted for and passed legislation codifying the administration’s delay of the employer mandate, in conjunction with a bill to similarly delay the individual mandate to purchase insurance. A majority of Democrats, meanwhile, voted against both bills. Obama himself threatened to veto both pieces of legislation should they come to his desk.

    I had a hard time believing that he said that. I know that the President is a tremendous liar, but that was remarkably bold faced even for Obama.

  • Sevo||

    "I had a hard time believing that he said that. I know that the President is a tremendous liar, but that was remarkably bold faced even for Obama."

    He keeps pushing the envelope and the shitheads of the world continue to sing: "BUUUUSH!"
    The mule and the 2X4 come to mind.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    I had a hard time believing that he said that.

    Why?

    He lies his ass off every time he makes a public statement.

  • ||

    My favorite is how the law subsizes care to an extent that allows the president to claim cheaper plans even as the actual cost of those plans continues to rise dramatically.

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    It doesn't even really do that. For some, yes, it does. But for many of the current uninsured, i.e. healthy young adults in their 20's, it forces them to buy coverage that they frankly do not need. At their age a catastrophic plan -you know actual INSURANCE- makes far more sense. But Barry knows best and insists that they must get a comprehensive plan because it is good and holy and just.

  • ||

    Catestrophic coverage IS legal for 20-30 year olds. I don't know if it will be sold on the exchanges.

    But catestrophic coverage is the only thing that really makes sense for *anyone*. Insurance, frankly, is a stupid way of paying for predictable expenses. Oh yes, except when someone else is paying for your premiums. Then it makes sense to use insurance for fucking EVERYTHING - the more to force other people to pay for it.

  • R C Dean||

    Catastrophic coverage can still be legally sold. However, it does not meet the minimum requirements to allow employers to not pay their penalties, or to allow individuals to avoid the penaltax.

  • altster76||

    That's all part of the plan Skippy. That's how Obozo redistributes from those who have to those who don't.

  • Faceless Commenter||

    Slight OT, those security holes in the data hub . . . how quickly does anyone figure they'll be exploited?

  • Sevo||

    ..."how quickly does anyone figure they'll be exploited?"

    Depends on how much arbitrage is available.
    If you could, say, score scrip drugs, well, by tomorrow morning, I'd guess. Ditto credit card info.

  • Faceless Commenter||

    Credit card info, credit card info! I want people who are counting on this POS to suffer. Rampant identity theft, bank accounts drained, the works. The only trouble as far as I can guess is that the HHS will never come clean. "Someone else must have leaked your info. Have you ever used your credit card to donate to a non-Democrat candidate, PAC, or party?"

  • Ayn Random Variation||

    "For anyone who might be concerned about cost—which, thanks to the mandate requiring people to purchase insurance, could be millions of people—misses the point. More expansive, more expensive coverage is still more expensive."

    It goes up to 11.

  • mulp||

    Why buy insurance when Reagan signed EMTALA that guarantees medical care at ERs for free.

    Right?

  • altster76||

    Correct. The first fix is to repeal EMTALA.

  • ||

    The problem for Republicans is that in order to reform the health insurance market in any sensible way they need to get rid of the tax incentives favoring employer-based plans. Which, unfortunately, a lot of people like.
    I know it may seem bizarre, but many people are accustomed to getting insurance from their employer and think of it as a benefit they would be losing. They don't see how it subtracts from the salary they would otherwise receiver, or the perverse effects that it may come with such as job lock and a lack of choice.
    Now, most voters are pretty uninformed about this, but it's pretty much impossible to get them better informed when the opposing side clearly thinks that employer based healthcare is such a good idea it should be mandatory and will do everything they can to convince people that it's a good idea.

    And of course, I haven't even mentioned guaranteed issue, which similarly ignorant voters think is a good idea.

    So the Republicans are in a position where all of the reforms that might actually WORK are unpopular.

  • mulp||

    Given the claim by conservatives that Obamacare will result in employers ending their health benefit plans because everyone can buy private insurance on the health insurance exchanges, you must support Obamacare wholeheartedly because it will accomplish your most important objective without the uninformed voters having any way to stop it from happening.

  • mulp||

    Well, Obamacare is the result of bipartisan work on the law with one elected Republican casting the 60th critical vote in the Senate. It was Republicans Grassley that called for members of Congress be subject to Obamacare exchanges, so that part of the law is just one more improvement on Mitt Romney's Romneycare. The Senate bills exited from committee thanks to the vote of Olympia Snowe who worked on drafting the bill that the Senate passed with elected Republican Arlen Specter's critical vote. Republican Scott Brown also cast a critical vote after he replaced Ted Kennedy, and Scott Brown calls Romneycare a great success.

    And if laws passed without a bipartisan vote are just wrong, then the Bush tax cuts, passed on party line votes are just totally objectionable, especially given the massive deficits the tax cuts created in just two years after a decade of deficit reduction by HW Bush and Bill Clinton.

    And Republicans have been promising a Republican health reform plan for two decades, with Obamacare being essentially the mashup of all of the Republican proposals over the previous two decades, which were first put together by Mitt Romney in his plans to run for president to demonstrate he could solve the most pressing problem for businesses: health care.

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    In other words, TEAM BLUE FOREVER, correct?

  • HiTechSurvival.com||

    Weak Defense?

    Obama is the Forrest Gump of US presidents.

    He gave you the best defense he's got.

    for a retard.............

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