Thursday, March 06, 2014

Cruising the Web

So, once again, President Obama has unilaterally moved the date for requiring when insurance companies will have to scrap their supposedly inferior policies and adopt Obamacare minimum coverage requirements. It was originally supposed to happen this year, but they instituted a one-year moratorium in the face of all the anger at Obama's broken promise that, if you like your plan you can keep it. But they realized that the letters to consumers telling them that they would lose their policies would be arriving right before the election. So, to help Democrats this year, they've moved the deadline to 2017. What are they going to do during the 2016 races? And will this work? As David Catron writes,
It’s not clear, however, that another delay of this Obamacare provision will save the Democrats. The people who vote in midterm elections are, on average, more sophisticated than the voters who participate in presidential elections. The percentage of voters who remember Obama’s past deceptions will be much higher in November than it was in 2012. Thus, as Jonathan S. Tobin writes in Commentary, “Democratic optimism about this underhanded and unconstitutional tactic… may be misplaced. The mere fact of so many delays as well as the evidence of the damage already done by the law to so many voters may outweigh any tactical advantages won by the stalling strategy.”

Most of the midterm voters will remember that this gambit would not be necessary had the President not lied about letting them keep health plans they liked. Many will also remember that, while running for President, Obama promised not to include an individual mandate in his health care reform plan. Moreover, many will know that this is merely the latest unilateral change the President has made to what he tells us is the “law of the land.” Since its passage, no fewer than 19 similar “directives” have been issued by his administration. Most of these voters will have the critical thinking skills to understand that a successful health reform program would not require so many repairs so soon.
And what does this do to businesses and insurance companies do in planning for the future? What does this mean for people who were told they were losing their policies and went and bought a policy through the Obamacare exchange? Obama has now postponed pain so it will occur right in the middle of the campaign in 2016. When that starts to hurt Democrats then, what will Obama do then?

Douglas Holtz-Eakin explains what these changes are going to mean for the entire Obamacare program. It's going to throw the balance of sick and healthier people in the Obamacare exchanges. But there are some worrisome legal problems.
1. As the American Action Forum pointed out after the last “sorry, we’ll try to get your canceled plan back” announcement, the non-compliant plans are still illegal. That means a policy holder could sue if an insurer did not cover an “essential benefit” under Obamacare. This opens insurers up to some potentially hefty legal liability. HHS is delaying these provisions written clearly in the legislation under their authority to set enforcement priorities. The ACA prohibition on non-compliant plans is still in effect, but not being enforced by HHS. However, Do the courts still need to enforce it? If an ACA benefit is mandated by law, but the plan is pardoned by a state insurance commissioner, in theory the enrollee could still sue when that benefit is not covered.

2.The non-compliant plans do not satisfy the legal requirement for the individual mandate. Will the IRS ding holders of these plans with the tax penalty?

3.Are states that previously decided against allowing non-compliant plans going to change their stance? What happens to the old plans that the states forced to be canceled?

4.If plans renew before October 1, 2016, will there be a period of time prior to open enrollment in 2017 during which those individuals cannot get coverage?

5.Are these plans required to keep premium prices and benefits constant in order to continue? What changes are allowed, if any?
James Taranto has fun ridiculing Dana Milbank's silly argument that Republicans are being oxymoronic criticism of Obama as being a tyrant in domestic policy and weak in foreign policy as if one could not be both.
That Milbank sees a contradiction here is evidence of his own lack of imagination. Does he really imagine that there's no such thing as a weak bully? If bullying and weakness are mutually exclusive, are bullying and strength mutually inclusive? Is there no such thing as a leader who is both strong and conciliatory?

It seems to us it's quite possible for a president to be feckless on the world stage but strong at home--Lyndon Johnson comes to mind. Or, for that matter, to be tough in foreign policy while getting rolled by domestic adversaries (George H.W. Bush). Which is not to say we think Obama is strong in either respect. ObamaCare, to take the signature example, was a feckless pursuit that "succeeded" only through bullying. If only Vladimir Putin were as easily pushed around as Ben Nelson and Bart Stupak.

How funny that the SAT is now dropping the essay portion of the test that they instituted in 2005 when they raised the grading scale to 2400 points. My students are all dismayed that they're waiting until spring 2016 to drop the much-criticized essay portion. And how funny that they're dropping the use of supposedly arcane vocabulary words with the examples that they give are "prevaricator," "sagacious" and "ignominious" and they're adding in more everyday words such as "synthesis" and "empirical." I hadn't realized that those were arcane words. It seems more like a way to simplify the test. I'm seeing similar changes coming in College Board's AP tests in the subjects that I teach - U.S. History and European History.

Oh my. Steve Hayward points us to what he calls the "Best. Supreme Court. Brief. Ever." Humorist P. J. O'Rourke has joined with several constitutional scholars to submit an amicus brief an upcoming case, Susan B. Anthony List v. Drihaus. See George Scoville for some of the funniest excerpts.

All is not peaceful among the peaceniks in the Obama administration. Now Kerry's people are leaking criticism that Obama has "sabotaged Kerry's efforts to achieve an agreement" in his peace efforts between Israel and Palestinians.

Sean Trende has a persuasive essay on why we should increase the size of the House.

Kristen Soltis Anderson explains at The Daily Beast why it is so dumb for the Harry Reid and the Democrats to focus so much on the Koch brothers.
Going after the Koch brothers is the ultimate “inside baseball” message. There’s no public polling about how many voters even know who the Koch brothers are, but only two thirds of independent voters even know who Harry Reid is, and most of them don’t like him much.
And of course, there are all the wealthy people who fund Democrats in their races. Have they never heard of George Soros?