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The Affordable Care Act Disaster Is Not Obama’s ‘Katrina’

November 15, 2013 by  

The New York Times went there yesterday, drawing a facile comparison between President Barack Obama’s handling of the Obamacare rollout with the way his predecessor, George W. Bush, dealt with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

How is Obama’s egg-on-face bungling of his own pet law anything like Bush’s response to an act of God? Did George W. Bush badger Congress, from the very beginning of his first term in office, to legislate a Category 5 hurricane into existence on a partisan vote and aim it at one of the Nation’s critical industrial corridors?

Did he promise the Nation for two years that everyone just needed to stop worrying and bend over and take whatever nature — at the behest of his political supporters — throws our way? That we’d all end up grateful, in the end, for his foresight?

Did Bush lie without equivocation about who would benefit from his hurricane — and continue to lie about how beneficial the hurricane was, even as it made landfall and marched into the interior of the Gulf States? Did he gloat when the hurricane was allowed to proceed after a Supreme Court challenge and tell his detractors to get over it, that Katrina was the established law of the land?

Did he then try to bypass Congress by authorizing NOAA, or HAARP, or whatever weather-manipulating powers the Commander in Chief may have at his disposal, to unilaterally modify the hurricane after Congress had already devoted thousands of pages of legislation to fine-tuning its every devastating feature? Did he double down on the disaster-in progress by offering an “administrative fix” — a Presidential decree to roll back the storm surge for a year so that people and businesses who’d already battened down the hatches would have time to undo their original escape plan and waste more time and money coming up with a better one?

In the run-up to landfall, did Bush blame Democrats for driving a wedge between the American people? Did he accuse them of Chicken-Little doomsday political tricks, of sermonizing the approaching hurricane’s deleterious effects, of attempting to make the Katrina issue an all-or-nothing bid to hold the rest of the Federal government hostage?

Did Bush then set about devising a scheme to bail out all his political supporters in Congress as Americans, beginning to realize that the hurricane was indeed devastating and was all the Republicans’ fault, started targeting their Republican Congress members as scapegoats?

George W. Bush may be guilty of a lot of terrible things. Some Americans believe he was guilty of truly unconscionable horrors on a scale that no amount of declassification of public documents will ever fully reveal. But however he coordinated the Federal response to Hurricane Katrina, or failed to assuage the pain of Ray Nagin and other political opportunists who knew how to milk a good emergency, Bush bears no culpability for creating the circumstances that led to the devastation of the Gulf Coast in August of 2005.

Barack Obama owns Obamacare. Depending on the mood of his party brethren, he’s even warmed to the “Obamacare” moniker (though not so much over the past seven days). He started the snowball rolling on Feb. 24, 2009, when he stood before Congress and said, “So let there be no doubt: Health care reform cannot wait, it must not wait, and it will not wait another year.”

He told the American Medical Association on June 15, 2009:

And that means that no matter how we reform health care, we will keep this promise to the American people: If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor, period. … If you like your health care plan, you’ll be able to keep your health care plan, period. … No one will take it away, no matter what.

And he kept saying it for four more years, all the while making damn sure everybody knew whose great idea it was — and calling out all of his nefarious opponents, who only saw gloom and doom in store.

Obama stumped at a Maryland business right at the start of the October government “shutdown,” telling people all about how settled and established his Obamacare law was, after years of challenges from Republican luddites:

So I would think that if, in fact, this was going to be such a disaster that the Republicans say it’s going to be, that it was going to be so unpopular, they wouldn’t have to shut down the government.  They could wait, nobody would show any interest, there would be, like, two people on the website – (laughter) – and everybody would then vote for candidates who want to repeal it.

It’s not as if Republicans haven’t had a chance to debate the health care law.  It passed the House of Representatives.  It passed the Senate.  The Supreme Court ruled it constitutional –you remember all this.  Last November, voters rejected the presidential candidate that ran on a platform to repeal it.  (Applause.)  So the Affordable Care Act has gone through every single democratic process, all three branches of government.  It’s the law of the land.  It’s here to stay.

“There would be, like, two people on the website.” Prophetic.

If you’ve read a better indictment of Obama’s hypocritical “administrative fix” speech than that offered by RedState contributor John Hayward, drop a link in the comments section. Here’s Hayward on Obama’s power play for royalty:

Not only does President Obama lack the legal authority to impose the “fix” for insurance cancellations he described on Thursday, but his entire proposal boils down to inviting insurance companies to violate federal law, and promising not to prosecute them for it.

That’s not an oversimplification – it’s literally true.  The Affordable Care Act – which Obama has previously been fond of describing as “the settled law of the land,” evidently confident that his dimmer constituents will believe settled laws have never been changed or repealed before – includes legal requirements for the content of insurance policies.  Obama’s “fix” invites insurance companies to violate those laws for a year, while he instructs the relevant regulatory agencies to look the other way.

This isn’t the rule of law.  It’s Chicago corruption – no different, at heart, from the inspector who takes a cash payoff to look the other way while seedy nightclubs violate city ordinances.  It’s one of the most shameful utterances a high government official has ever made, to say nothing of being rather hard to square with those photos of Obama’s signature on the ACA, with the caption “IT’S. THE. LAW.” that his political operation likes to spread across social media. The key element of the Obamacare defense, throughout the last-ditch Republican effort to defund or delay the law before it failed in precisely the ways they predicted, was the belligerent shriek that no one can dare oppose this almighty law, which is more powerful and permanent than the very Constitution itself.  But at the same time, they’re telling us the whole thing is written in pencil, and Barack Obama can erase anything he finds politically inconvenient.

Back to The New York Times:

The disastrous rollout of his [Obama’s] health care law not only threatens the rest of his agenda but also raises questions about his competence in the same way that the Bush administration’s botched response to Hurricane Katrina undermined any semblance of Republican efficiency.

But unlike Mr. Bush, who faced confrontational but occasionally cooperative Democrats, Mr. Obama is battling a Republican opposition that has refused to open the door to any legislative fixes to the health care law and has blocked him at virtually every turn.

That makes sense: Blame Republicans as you help the President put down the talking points and step gingerly away from the Obamacare. As The Daily Caller’s Jim Treacher wrote Friday, “Their fingerprints aren’t on the murder weapon, which only proves they made ‘im do it.”

Obama took ownership of this thing and used it as a political status symbol until it started betraying him by functioning exactly as it was designed to function. Now he’s being stoned by fellow Democrats and is seeking a solution that doesn’t leave his Administration, or his party, politically destitute.

Obamacare isn’t to Obama as Katrina was to Bush. To borrow the Times’ silly simile, though, it would be equally appropriate to say that Obama’s second-act “fix” for his own self-made mess looks like it could do a Rita on the Constitution.

Ben Bullard

Reconciling the concept of individual sovereignty with conscientious participation in the modern American political process is a continuing preoccupation for staff writer Ben Bullard. A former community newspaper writer, Bullard has closely observed the manner in which well-meaning small-town politicians and policy makers often accept, unthinkingly, their increasingly marginal role in shaping the quality of their own lives, as well as those of the people whom they serve. He argues that American public policy is plagued by inscrutable and corrupt motives on a national scale, a fundamental problem which individuals, families and communities must strive to solve. This, he argues, can be achieved only as Americans rediscover the principal role each citizen plays in enriching the welfare of our Republic.

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