Saturday, November 15, 2014

Obamacare Schadenfreude Gruberfest Continues

Dr. Johathon Gruber is the gift that keeps on giving:

Gruber  video #5:  Mocking critics as “adolescent children”

The room may have exploded in laughter, but here’s what the adolescent writer predicted would result from ObamaCare:
  • Coercive mandates
  • Ballooning costs
  • Increased taxes
  • Bureaucratic outrages
  • Shabby facilities
  • Disgruntled providers
  • Long waiting lines
  • Lower quality care
  • Special-interest nest-feathering,
  • Destructive wage and price controls
So far, his adolescent children have done a better job of predicting the outcomes from Obamacare than Dr. Gruber. Maybe we should have hired them instead

Is this #4 or #6? It's so hard to keep them straight. Jonathan Gruber Admitted Obama Was In the Room When Cadillac Tax Lie Was Created. 

Obamacare architect in 6th video: 'Mislabeling' helped us get rid of tax breaks
"Economists have called for 40 years to get rid of the regressive, inefficient and expensive tax subsidy provided for employer provider health insurance," Gruber said at the Pioneer Institute for public policy research in Boston. The subsidy is "terrible policy," Gruber said.

"It turns out politically it's really hard to get rid of," Gruber said. "And the only way we could get rid of it was first by mislabeling it, calling it a tax on insurance plans rather than a tax on people when we all know it's a tax on people who hold those insurance plans."

(The White House press secretary said at a press briefing in 2010: "I would disagree with your notion that it is a tax on an individual since the proposal is written as a tax on an insurance company that offers a plan.")

The second way was have the tax kick in "late, starting in 2018. But by starting it late, we were able to tie the cap for Cadillac Tax to CPI, not medical inflation," Gruber said. CPI is the consumer price index, which is lower than medical inflation.
Ace point's out how Obama demagogued  John McCain's plan to get rid of the rax exemption on employer sponsored health plans:
So as a general matter, I think we'd probably like to get rid of the tax exempt status for health care benefits.

Note that McCain proposed doing just that in the 2008 election. His idea was that we would get rid of this exemption and instead give people an additional tax credit valued at the average cost of health insurance. Thus, people would be held harmless by the change, but we'd get rid of this government-made distortion in how employers pay their employees.

Barack Obama, get this, demagogued that plan and accused McCain of wanting to increase taxes on people.

And meanwhile, he schemed to achieve the same thing, except without that part about giving people an additional tax credit which would offset increased taxes, and, get this, without telling people he was getting rid of the tax exemption.

Once again -- subverting democracy by completely destroying the concept of Consent of the Governed.
He also points to a video from 2009, where Obama's Budget Director Peter Orzag, essentially admits to the chicanery.

More from Ace: Left Covers Up Gruber Deceits With, Get This, More Deceit

Lies all the way down.

Oh, and Megan McArdle sums up the advantages of Obamacare this way:
No one likes [Obamacare's] structure. Its sole virtues over basically any other possible plan were that it scored well with the Congressional Budget Office and that it was too confusing for voters to understand what was going on. Those are not high recommendations for a national health-care policy.
Oh, and here's an important fact I didn't know: Jon Gruber was paid by the government to figure out how to fool the CBO into scoring various taxes as not being taxes. When he speaks about deceiving the CBO and the American public, he is not being glib. That is precisely his area of expertise.
. . .
So you paid Dr. Gruber $400,000 for his expertise in tutoring the government to serve more effective false propaganda to you.
Apparently Carney has been out of the White House long enough now that the rose color in his glasses is starting to fade. Carney: Jonathan Gruber "Speaks From The Ivory Tower With Remarkable Hubris"
TAPPER: Joining me now, CNN senior political commentator and former Obama White House Press Secretary Jay Carney and Republican strategist, Ana Navarro. Jay, this is bad.

JAY CARNEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It's not good, Jake. It's doesn't help when someone who help write not only Obamacare, the president's Affordable Care Act, but also the precursor to it, which was Governor Romney's health care reform initiative in Massachusetts.

You know, speaks from the Ivory Tower with remarkable hubris about the American voter and by extension the American Congress. The fact is that any health care reform that sought to control costs and expand insurance would involve winners and losers.

And that's always going to be the case. That's certainly the case, to speak that way, very harmful politically to the president.
Rich Lowry, on the other hand, is thanking Dr. Gruber for revealing the naked truth about how Obamacare was formulated and passed and how that reflects the liberal mindset:
H. L. Mencken famously wrote that no one has “ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people.” Or, Gruber might add, ever failed to pass major social legislation by doing the same.

His impolitic remarks now have some Obama supporters suggesting that Gruber — one of the most influential health-care wonks in the country, who was integral to crafting the Massachusetts precursor to Obamacare and then Obamacare itself — is just some random, poorly spoken guy.

This denies Gruber his due. He has done us all a favor by affording us an unvarnished look into the progressive mind, which values complexity over simplicity, favors indirect taxes and impositions on the American public so their costs can be hidden, and has a dim view of the average American.

Complexity is a staple of liberal policymaking. It is a product of its scale and reach, but also of the imperative to hide the ball. Taxing and spending and redistributive schemes tend to be unpopular, so clever ways have to be found to deny that they are happening. This is what Gruber was getting at. One reason Obamacare was so convoluted is that its supporters didn’t want to straightforwardly admit how much the law was raising taxes and using the young and healthy to subsidize everyone else.
 Megan McArdle Proposes her very own healthcare law: A Cheaper, Simpler Obamacare Plan
As a frequent critic of Obamacare, I'm often asked, "Well, how would you solve the problem? Huh?" The implication is that if I don't have a solution, I should shut up and endorse the one Democrats provided.
. . .
As it happens, however, I did have an alternative plan for the Affordable Care Act, one that I was very fond of. It preserved the basic market mechanisms in health care while protecting people from catastrophic risks. It was so simple it could be explained in a couple of sentences. And it wouldn't cost that much. Ready? Here we go: The government picks up 100 percent of health-care costs above 15 to 20 percent of adjusted gross income. For people below 150 percent of the poverty line, there's Medicaid, which picks up basically all your costs. Hard to game, preserves consumer incentives to shop for prices and keeps people out of bankruptcy.
A one page healthcare bill? But where's the opportunity for graft?
I understand that this is not what progressives wanted. But it takes care of the three biggest issues that we said we wanted to fix: the problem of middle-class families getting pushed into bankruptcy by medical bills, the problem of people with pre-existing conditions who can't get insurance, and the problem of poor people who can't afford even reasonably priced insurance. Meanwhile, it actually attacks cost control the same way we do in other markets: by giving consumers an incentive to shop for better prices for noncatastrophic expenses. And it wouldn't even be that expensive, because we already have Medicaid, and Medicaid and Medicare and the VA already pick up a disproportionate share of the high-cost patients who drive a huge portion of our health-care spending.
Megan McArdle for President?

Meanwhile, the Secretary of HHS wants Obamacare extended to some illegal aliens:
The Obamacare and immigration debates collided Tuesday as Health and Human Services chief Sylvia Burwell called for extending Obamacare benefits to DREAM-eligible illegal immigrants.

Burwell was speaking on a public Google hangout with prominent Latina bloggers to promote Saturday’s opening of the Obamacare enrollment period when she shifted to her thoughts on immigration reform.

“DREAMers are not able to be covered in the marketplace. And this is an issue that I think is more than a health care issue — it is an immigration issue,” Burwell said in response to a question about whether families with mixed immigration statuses can get coverage.
. . .
Only legal immigrants are eligible for Obamacare benefits, but liberal and pro-immigration groups have asked that Obamacare benefits be extended to illegal immigrants as well. Several groups have also advocated for the Obama administration to mandate Obamacare exchange eligibility for DREAMers, a term used to describe illegal immigrants who are granted Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals status.
Hell, you might as well start giving it to Martians, if you can find any.

MSNBC: So, your Obamacare costs are going up That's OK, you voted for it, although, thanks to Dr. Gruber and his co-conspirators in the administration, you may not have been aware of it at the time.

Sauce for the goose? Mandatory Obamacare for all congressional staffers?
This almost happened yesterday, but has now been put off until some time next week. Senator David Vitter (R – LA) has an amendment on the table which will make it mandatory for all GOP staffers on the Hill to get their healthcare through Obamacare. This comes as the GOP continues to consider new leadership and resolutions for caucus rules.
Resolved, that it is the policy of the Republican Conference that all Members shall designate all staff they employ as official for purposes of healthcare when filling out the Annual Designation of “Official Office” staff or otherwise complying with the section 1312 of the Affordable Care Act regardless of whether they work in a member’s personal office, committee office, leadership office, the cloakroom or any other office.

Challenge to Democrats

The Republican Conference calls upon the Senate Democrats to adopt a policy that all Democrat members shall designate all staff they employ as official for purposes of healthcare when filling out the Annual Designation of “Official Office” staff or otherwise complying with the section 1312 of the Affordable Care Act regardless of whether they work in the member’s personal office, committee office, leadership office, the cloakroom or other any other office.
Right now the members and some of their staffers already have to enroll in the DC exchange, but committee and leadership staffers are exempt and can stick with their Federal Employees Health Benefit Program. Some of the Democrat leadership has been a bit more, er… reluctant to make everyone sign up. The intent here seems to be to shame the Democrats into taking a full 100% dose of the medicine they have prescribed for the rest of the nation.
What happens if the Supreme Court Rules against the IRS in the upcoming court case? How to Prepare for Obamacare's Collapse
At that point, Republicans will have three basic choices.

The first is one that Democrats will presumably demand: that Republicans end the hardship. State legislators and governors will be pressured to create exchanges to get their residents qualified for the tax credits, and Congress will be asked to amend the law. This would solve the immediate problem. But Republicans would and should be loath to go along because it would involve expanding a program they consider a colossal mistake.

The second choice would be to do nothing, watch a lot of people suffer, and say that it's the administration's fault and not something they're obliged to do anything about. I suspect that much of the public will, in fact, blame the administration. But Republicans also will look bad if they take this stance, and may find that the pressure to do something grows and grows. In the interim, many people will have been yanked around by the government.

The third choice, which I favor, would be for Republicans to pass bills that take care of the affected people while advancing a much more conservative and sensible set of health-care reforms. The solution, that is, is for Republicans to begin to make good on their promise to replace Obamacare. . .
And how do liberals intend to deal with the possibility? How Obama Could Skirt SCOTUS And The Lawsuit To Kill O-Care
But while the White House has been publicly mum about how it would address that worst-case scenario, policy experts have told TPM that there could be ways for the Obama administration to get around such a ruling.

The specifics would need to be worked out, but the crux is this: States could continue to use as their technical backdrop, but they would be considered state-based exchanges. That would allow the law's tax subsidies to keep flowing, even if the Supreme Court were to invalidate them on the federal exchange, as the lawsuit's plaintiffs argue it should.

"I imagine the administration would try to make it as easy as possible for states to set up exchanges, possibly including having the nuts and bolts still operated through," Larry Levitt, vice president at the non-partisan Kaiser Family Foundation, told TPM this summer before the case reached the Supreme Court.

Joel Ario, a former Health and Human Services official who nows works at Manatt, Phelps and Phillips, also told TPM back then that the administration "could make it much easier for a second generation of state exchanges to be established now that the federal government has a viable IT platform for both state and federal exchanges to use."
Basically, a shell game.

And the case itself? History gives clues to Chief Justice Roberts' thinking on new Obamacare case
Still, it seems entirely possible that Roberts might focus narrowly this time on the snippet of the act extending subsidies only to those insured by exchanges "established by the state." One argument he might make in defense of that position is that Congress has the ability to go back and fix any unclear language through a revised statute.

Roberts telegraphed his willingness to take such an approach in the 2013 Shelby County vs. Holder case, which struck down a key provision of the Voting Rights Act. The provision the Supreme Court declared unconstitutional defined which states had to get federal approval (or pre-clearance) before making changes to their voting laws. Roberts' opinion for the majority ordered the provision struck because it was based on old data. Congress, he reasoned, could simply update the formula to respond to "current conditions" if it wished to.

When Roberts wrote his Shelby County opinion, he knew full well that Congress would not update the coverage formula. Congress is polarized, and the issue was a political hot potato. Indeed, in the period since the opinion, a bill introduced to update the Voting Rights Act has gone nowhere. It is supported by Democrats and a sole Republican, Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.).
He sounds like a liberal preparing for the worst case scenario.

And just a little history: Dems' path after Obamacare: Down, down, down
There were 60 Democrats in the Senate on Christmas Eve 2009, when they voted in lockstep to pass the Affordable Care Act. Soon there will be 46 Democrats in the Senate, or perhaps 47, if Sen. Mary Landrieu manages to eke out a win in Louisiana. In plain numbers, the post-Obamacare trajectory has not been good for Senate Democrats.

The 46 or 47 Democrats in the next Senate are a bit different from the group that passed Obamacare. Sixteen of them took office after the Affordable Care Act was signed into law. They never had to vote for it and have never had to defend voting for it.

A significant number of Democrats have no particular attachment to the law and may even want to be rid of it as a political issue.

Are those post-Obamacare Democrats as strongly opposed to changing the law as their colleagues who voted for it? Or are they possibly a little less personally invested in staving off challenges? It's a question that will be tested in coming months.
Whew, now that was a load.

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