Thursday, November 07, 2013

Cruising the Web

The Obamacare joke continues as Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley ridicule it at the opening of the Country Music Awards and then launched into a song "Obamacare by morning." Of course, that's not the same thing as if it had been mocked at an MTV or Oscar Awards Night, but that would be too much to hope for. I've noticed Obamacare jokes seeping into my daily life. Yesterday, the site that North Carolina requires schools to use to enter grades was down just when teachers at my school had to enter grades and people in the office were laughing about the comparison. And once the website is fixed, the focus will shift from those technical breakdowns to all the people who lost their insurance due to the hubris of Obama and the Democrats. And that won't be funny.

Do vulnerable Democratic senators facing difficult reelection fights next year really think they're going to fool their constituents that, after voting down the line to support Obamacare and fight back any Republican attempts to modify the effects of the law, they have redeemed themselves by telling the media how tough they were on the President in yesterday's meeting at the White House?

So now the blame for the website going down was due to a spelling error?

Daniel Henninger ponders what he calls the Obama "negative force field."
From the earliest days of the presidency, the dynamic seemed to be that none of the hope he wanted to achieve could happen unless somebody else was taken down.

Instead of the positive, even healing, presence voters expected in 2008, Barack Obama has become a one-man negative force field. He shoots out negative vibes not merely by force of personality, but because that's his default political strategy. The game plan has always been diminish the opposition, and then divide and conquer. Well, the chickens are coming home to roost, because just now it's looking more like divide and founder.

Richard Epstein highlights the "moral blindness" of Obamacare.
Indeed, this last point exposes the fatal conceit of the hard-core Obamacare defenders, one and all. Their efforts started with the dangerous and uninformed decision to make deals with the insurance companies. What the Obamacare planners should have done was to find ways to knock down any and all barriers to entry that prevented low-cost competitors from entering the market. That means letting healthcare insurers cross state lines; it means letting for-profit businesses enter into businesses supplying walk-in care at affordable prices. None of that was done, so the current legislation piles outsized benefit packages on top an unworkable delivery care system.

Alas, so long as moralists at the Times have their way, the structural rot will only deepen. The broken websites are a sideshow. Mark these words: the breakdown in the individual insurance market is only a small foretaste of the total chaos from mass insurance cancellations that will come when and if the employer mandates go into effect.
Charles Ornstein at ProPublica reports on a California couple who donated and worked for Obama's reelection have found out how they're losing their health insurance that was a good policy, not a substandard one as the Obamanians are claiming about the canceled policies, for one that will not be any better but will cost them a whole lot more. They're reduced to writing to their senators asking for help. Like that will do anything. So their final option is to work less so that they qualify for federal subsidies.
So what is Hammack going to do? If his income were to fall below four times the federal poverty level, or about $62,000 for a family of two, he would qualify for subsidies that could lower his premium cost to as low as zero. If he makes even one dollar more, he gets nothing.

That’s what he’s leaning toward — lowering his salary or shifting more money toward a retirement account and applying for a subsidy.

“We’re not changing our views because of this situation, but it hurt to hear Obama saying, just the other day, that if our plan has been dropped it’s because it wasn’t any good, and our costs would go up only slightly,” he said. “We’re gratified that the press is on the case, but frustrated that the stewards of the ACA don’t seem to have heard.”
Thus we see another example of Epstein's point about the "moral blindness" of Obamacare.

Megan McArdle refutes the arguments that liberals have been making to blame the failures of Obamacare on Republican sabotage and intransigence.
But Obamacare’s biggest problem, as I have written, was that the architects of the law demanded an enormously ambitious software project on an impossibly hubristic deadline. Whatever slim chance this had of working was ultimately doomed -- not by Republicans, but by the administration’s own paranoid and self-destructive decisions to manage a software project as if it were a top-secret campaign strategy rather than a mission-critical component of the most ambitious federal entitlement expansion in almost 50 years.

Remember that when Cutler wrote that devastating memo, Democrats still had control of both houses of Congress. The administration failed to rectify the shortcomings he identified because it did not understand that making a program happen is very different from writing out a description of it.

The administration did not refuse to issue key regulations and guidelines, or to announce the final number of states that would be building their own exchanges, because Republicans used secret mind-control rays or stole the notebooks they had used to write the draft memo. They delayed because they did not want Republicans to be able to tell the public about them before Barack Obama was safely re-elected to a second term.

In other words, most of the damage was done not by lack of funding, but because the administration was either incompetent or trying to insulate itself from the perfectly ordinary, natural, legitimate and, dare I say, patriotic function of an opposition party, which is to point out to the public when the party in charge is doing something that the public wouldn’t like. Reframing “criticism of the administration” as “sabotage” deserves an Oscar for outstanding lifetime achievement in the field of political spin.

Which is why I think that “the lesson of Obamacare” is something very different from Kevin Drum’s lesson. It’s not enough to win elections. To pass a major piece of legislation, you also need to have the political and institutional support to make it happen. If you pass a law without these things, you will likely come to regret it -- as I think some Democrats already have, and more probably will.

George Will describes how the failure of Cash for Clunkers presaged the rest of the Obama agenda.

Nick Gillespie is fed up with baby boomers' nostalgia for the JFK assassination.