Tick, tick, tick. That’s the sound of the clock ticking down to when the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPAACA) — the monstrosity known as Obamacare — will go into effect. If you think there are good reasons to detest this legislation now, just wait until you actually have to begin obeying it.
As we celebrate this Independence Day weekend, I’ve got a suggestion on how the House of Representatives could take a giant step toward gaining our independence from this massive government takeover of our healthcare system. More on that later in this column. But first, let’s look at some additional reasons why we must drive a stake through the heart of this beast.
Remember when then-Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said we had to pass Obamacare to find out what’s in it? At the time, the bill was more than 2,700 pages long. You can bet your bottom dollar that not a single member of Congress had read the darned thing, much less understood what implementing it would mean for this country.
Since then, more than 20,000 pages of new regulations have been issued by the Federal government to interpret and enforce the legislation’s new requirements. That’s more than twice as many pages as the Internal Revenue Service tax code — and you know how easy it is to understand and comply with that Federal juggernaut.
Speaking of the IRS, it should send chills up and down your spine to realize that this is the agency that will be responsible for enforcing many of the provisions of Obamacare. The IRS says it will have to hire 17,000 new agents to insure compliance. Oh, boy. I can hardly wait.
Meanwhile, we’re starting to get a better idea of just how expensive this Federal takeover of our healthcare system will be. This past Monday, the lead story in The Wall Street Journal carried the headline, “Insurance Costs Set for a Jolt.” The first sentence began: “Healthy consumers could see insurance rates double or even triple when they look for individual coverage under the federal health law later this year.”
Don’t say we didn’t warn you. The article adds that many of the most cost-effective plans currently available may disappear: “The exchanges, the centerpiece of President Barack Obama’s health-care law, look likely to offer few if any of the cut-rate policies that healthy people can now buy, according to the Journal’s analysis.”
Many businesses did a catch break earlier this week, when the Obama Administration announced that it would delay for a year enforcement of one of the law’s most onerous provision: the requirement that any business with 50 or more full-time employees offer healthcare benefits starting Jan. 1, or face fines of $2,000 per employee or more.
That means this provision won’t kick in until after the November 2014 elections, when one-third of the Senate seats and all of the House seats will be up for grabs. Just an eerie coincidence, I’m sure.
Senator Max Baucus (D-MT), one of the legislators who helped draft the original legislation, said of the bill’s implementation, “I just see a huge train wreck coming down.” The veteran politician, who currently serves as chairman of the powerful Senate Finance Committee, has decided to head for the hills before the damage becomes obvious to everyone. He’s announced that he will retire at the end of next year, rather than face the voters in Montana another time.
No wonder some potential endorsers of the legislation are also saying “no thanks.” Last week, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius proudly announced that the NFL was “enthusiastically engaged” in talks with the Administration about how it could help promote the new health-insurance options mandated by Obamacare.
It turns out she was a bit premature. After hearing about the Administration’s plans to line up celebrity endorsements for Obamacare, Senate Republican leaders Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and John Cornyn (R-Texas) sent the five major professional sports leagues a letter urging them not to do so.
The NFL promptly issued a statement saying it “currently [has] no plans to engage in this area.” And the NBA also denied plans for any such promotional efforts, saying there is “nothing we plan to announce at this point.”
So we may be spared hearing a millionaire athlete telling us how good Obamacare will be for us. But Investors Business Daily has the details of an even more nefarious scheme to gain support for Obamacare. The newspaper says that over $1 million bucks is being spent in California to turn students into advocates for socialized healthcare. Tell me this doesn’t make your blood boil:
The goal is to train millions of student messengers statewide to sell the idea of government-subsidized health insurance to parents and relatives at home and to get more people enrolled in Obamacare.
Taxpayer-paid public school staff will also be used to phone students’ homes urging enrollment under Obama’s Affordable Care Act. And they will be used to consume precious class instructional time to teach the students all about the healthcare program that the Democrat Congress did not read before passing in 2010.
Now, I realize that California is the most liberal State in the country. A friend of mine who lives there likes to refer to it as “the People’s Republic of California.” But I can’t believe there won’t be a ton of parents furious at these plans to turn their children into miniature propagandists for Obamacare.
By the way, if you think the new healthcare exchanges will be a train wreck, just wait until the Independent Payment Advisory Board is fully operational. This is the outfit that Sarah Palin referred to as a “death panel.” Although she was lambasted unmercifully at the time for that description, it turns out the former Alaska Governor was, if anything, understating the case.
David B. Rivkin Jr., the lawyer who led the legal challenge to Obamacare in the courts, has warned of the “god-like powers” the PPAACA bestowed on this powerful group.
In an article for The Wall Street Journal, Rivkin and Elizabeth Foley, a professor of Constitutional law, wrote:
The bottom line is that the Independent Payment Advisory Board isn’t a typical executive agency. It’s a new beast that exercises both executive and legislative power but can’t be controlled by either branch. Seniors and providers hit hardest by the board’s decisions will have nowhere to turn for relief–not Congress, not the president, not the courts.
How could this possibly be?
“The Obamacare law also stipulates that there ‘shall be no administrative or judicial review’ of the board’s decisions,” Rivkin and Roley report.
How could Congress vote to create such an obviously unconstitutional group? Remember that statement by Pelosi? Clearly, they didn’t know they were doing it. And clearly, the bill’s supporters planned it that way.
So what can we do about it? There’s no point asking the House of Representatives to pass another repeal bill. Been there; done that. Nothing will change here until we get a conservative majority in the Senate (hopefully in 2014) or a new occupant in the White House (hopefully not Hillary Clinton in 2016).
But here’s something the House could do tomorrow: Cut off funding to implement the darned thing.
Yes, I know. For the past umpteen years, the attitude in Washington has been that once a program has been approved, of course it has to be funded. But does it? The Constitution doesn’t say so. In fact, it states very clearly that every spending bill, every time, must originate in the House of Representatives.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful to see the House refuse to vote the funds to pay for those 17,000 new IRS agents or a bunch of the other mandates in the badly misnamed Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act?
How about defunding the unconstitutional National Labor Relations Board or the outrageous edicts emanating from the Environmental Protection Agency? In fact, how about defunding enough Federal programs to end deficit spending? Wouldn’t that be wonderful?
This is a battle I’d love to see us wage. So how about it, Congressmen? Isn’t it high time to stop signing all of those checks? Especially when you have to borrow the money to pay for them?
Until next time, keep some powder dry.