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home : opinions : commentary May 26, 2016

8/3/2013 2:21:00 PM
Commentary: Are Republicans fooling themselves about Obamacare?
By: Byron York

When Washington conservatives gather to talk among themselves, and the discussion turns to Obamacare -- it happens pretty frequently -- it's not unusual to hear predictions that the president's health care law will "collapse of its own weight." It's a "train wreck," many say, quoting Democratic Sen. Max Baucus. It's unworkable. It's going to be a big, smoking ruin.

Some predict chaos beginning Oct. 1, when the law requires Obamacare exchanges, the online marketplaces in which people will be able to shop for insurance, to be up and running. And maybe that will happen; the day is a little more than two months off, and the administration seems far behind schedule in the work that needs to be done.

On the other hand, a lot of thoughtful conservatives are looking beyond Oct. 1 to Jan. 1, the day the law (except for the parts the president has unilaterally postponed) is scheduled to go fully into effect. On that day the government will begin subsidizing health insurance for millions of Americans. (A family of four with income as high as $88,000 will be eligible for subsidies.) When people begin receiving that entitlement, the dynamics of the Obamacare debate will change.

At that point, the Republican mantra of total repeal will become obsolete. The administration will mount a huge public relations campaign to highlight individuals who have received government assistance to help them afford, say, chemotherapy, or dialysis, or some other life-saving treatment. Will Republicans advocate cutting off the funds that help pay for such care?

The answer is no. Facing that reality, the GOP is likely to change its approach, arguing that those people should be helped while the rest of Obamacare is somehow dismantled.

The administration is fully aware of its advantage. Recently officials invited several prominent liberal bloggers to a special White House Obamacare briefing. From the reporting that resulted -- one headline included the declaration "Implementing the Affordable Care Act is going to be a huge success" -- administration officials are quite confident that, whatever problems arise, Obamacare will be solidly in place after the money starts flowing on Jan. 1.

"Neither Democrats nor Republicans liked to emphasize how much the Affordable Care Act debate was about redistribution rather than health care as such, but there's a lot of money here," wrote Slate's Matthew Yglesias, who attended the briefing. "The law is structured to be financially beneficial to a large majority of people, and the infrastructure is in place to make that clear to a critical mass of them."

Truth be told, many Republicans did note that redistribution is at the heart of Obamacare. But the fact is, the redistributing will begin Jan. 1. And whatever else goes wrong with Obamacare, look for the White House to apply whatever fixes it must to make sure the money keeps flowing.

"The last few months have shown us that the administration will do whatever it needs to do -- whether it is in the law or not, within its formal powers or beyond them -- to prop up collapsing elements and avoid political disasters in the near term," said Yuval Levin, a former Bush administration staffer and one of Obamacare's most perceptive critics, in an email exchange. "That often means pure ad hoc governing where they just do whatever they have to in order to avoid allowing the system's worst problems and failings to become apparent in the near term."

None of this is to say Obamacare won't face huge problems. The most obvious is that it will make things worse for more people than it helps. If that disparity is huge -- that is, if on one side there are many millions of people paying more for coverage than they did previously, losing coverage they were satisfied with, and suffering through great uncertainty, while on the other side there are far fewer people receiving direct government subsidies -- if that happens, then the political fight over Obamacare will intensify rather than fade. But even then, the subsidies are unlikely to go away.

Obamacare could face even bigger problems. The most serious is the so-called "death spiral," which could occur if too few young, healthy people sign up for coverage, dramatically raising the cost of covering everyone else.

But collapse of its own weight? The administration's insurance against that is the billions of dollars that will start flowing out of Washington Jan. 1. Once that happens, Republicans will likely stop talking about Obamacare's collapse and will instead start searching for ways to limit the harm done to millions of Americans.

Byron York is chief political correspondent for The Washington Examiner.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Sunday, August 25, 2013
Article comment by: Billinda Bantam

To Bill Bassett:
True, some people have been directly harmed by some of this Administration's policies.

But I said "more difficult, " as in more complicated, more disrupted, more expensive, and more subject to bureaucratic whims and errors. Nothing anyone could take to court.

You could argue that Federal tax shuffles always do. But the answer to that is "Not usually to this extent."

For instance, the Reagan Reshuffle snuck in and walloped self-employed professionals and small business owners. But by definition, members of this sector are good at taking care of themselves and faster on their feet than large enterprises. The revenue windfall window was small and focused. There were compensations. Adjustments could be made to avoid downsizing and laying workers off.

Likewise, the Clinton Tax Hikes mainly affected professionals and companies with large profit margins. They slowed wage increases and contributed to the widening gap between rich and poor. But by definition, those hardest hit could afford it. There were compensations and incentives for new hires. Adjustments could be made to maintain profitability and avoid laying workers off.

The PPACA, on the other hand, targets everyone earning an income. It hits low-income wage-earners the hardest. And it triggers a slew of hidden costs that, due to its complexity and indeterminate elements, even experts can't adequately anticipate. So far the promised compensations haven't materialized. Even before full enactment, people are being downsized and capital investment frozen. Across the board, the country's economic movers are sitting around twiddling their thumbs, waiting to see what Washington does next and how it will fall out among the various States.

This is an "uber-DNC talking point"--ultra-agenda-driven, if you prefer.

Republican legislators couldn't pass anything like this. Their constituents expect them to know something about business and finance. A Republican Administration couldn't endorse it. Even liberal commentators would be shocked by such a cavalier disregard for collateral damage and extenuating factors. (c.f., Romney in Massachusetts)

Personally, I don't think, given his druthers, Barrack Obama would have signed the PPACA. There's no evidence of megalomania in his past record. No blind devotion to a social cause. No overwhelming need to control the taxpaying public.

This is something the Democratic Party hierarchy wanted advanced and that the Republican Party hierarchy wanted accomplished if they could blame it on the Democrats.

An example of an uber-RNC talking point is the Patriot Act, and the Omnibus Crime Bill before that.

I'll let you tell impatient readers how these made life more difficult for all except the favored few.

Posted: Saturday, August 24, 2013
Article comment by: Ryan Jensen

@ Brian Carlson

Impeachment does not necessarily remove a President from office.

PS...Hey somebody...write a new column or letter for us to post our dogma under.....this one's three weeks old!

Posted: Friday, August 23, 2013
Article comment by: Bill Bassett

Ways the Democrats and President Obama have made my life more difficult:

1. Hmmm, I'm thinking. Give me a minute, I'll come up with something. Sorry, I can't, oops.

So, Mr. @bill Bassett please do tell. In what specific way is your life been made more difficult? Just one way. How exactly? Did a democrat fire you from your job? Repo your car? Foreclose your house? Stress you into a heart attack? Give you cancer? Plant crabgrass in your lawn? Just one example is all I ask. You can be honest because you are anonymous.

By the way, what is an uber DNC talking point? Which of those have been enacted? In what way has everyone's life been made more difficult as a result.

Posted: Friday, August 23, 2013
Article comment by: Brian Carlson

@ Bill Bassett,
You make a very good argument against Impeachment of Obama. Are we ready for Joe Biden as President? Thank you Bill for bringing us all back to reality.

Posted: Friday, August 23, 2013
Article comment by: @ Bill Bassett

So, you think the Hardest Hit Fund was well-managed? That ensuring crony mortgage holders weren't stuck with too many foreclosures all at once was a good reason to increase taxpayer debt? That ACORN wasn't a taxpayer-funded scheme to promote a welfare-state ideology that is still being taxpayer-funded under different 'brand names'?

Very little of the information in the comment is in the Judicial Watch article. Maybe you should start thinking about what you read.

Yes, it is sad to see the country going down the proverbial tubes. Do a search on the Cloward-Piven strategy. It's coming to fruition, thanks to in part to bobbing-head parrots who don't think too deeply about consequences.

Posted: Friday, August 23, 2013
Article comment by: @ Bill Bassett

Why would the Republicans want to waste time and treasure impeaching Obama?

He's doing it for them with bells on. Every uber-DNC talking point he enacts has made everyone's life more difficult...except for a cadre of cronies, the size of which Republicans only dreamed of amassing.

Give the man two more years and the corruption that imperial social programs produce will stink so bad that no one will be able to ignore it.

Besides, impeach Obama--you get good Old Uncle Joe Biden, the anti-pot, pro-union police state czar. Which may have been the original idea.

Posted: Friday, August 23, 2013
Article comment by: M J

Liberal lunacy…

Liberals bray ….. The sky is falling….. The sky is falling…..
Leaked copy of U.N. Climate Change Report shows agency struggling to explain why “Global Warming” has been non-existent over last 15 years…… The Goracle very depressed…..

The Royal Ruling Liberal King…..
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) – US consul general in Jerusalem Ratney signed an agreement with Palestinian caretaker Prime Minister Hamdallah upon which the US will pay the Palestinian Authority $148 million. In August, US President Barack Obama decided to waive restrictions set by Congress to allow sending money to the Palestinian Authority in order to bolster the Palestinian leadership after it resumed talks with Israel.

Notes from the insane....
Chris “Tingles” Matthews: Manning's a "frail guy who doesn't look threatening to anyone," and Manning will be surrounded by people "who won't like him." ….. ahhhh …. Poor fellow….

Egypt on fire….
Slaughter of Christians in Egypt… Churches burned….. 'Ethnic Cleansing'…..
Poison gas used in Syria? … 500 Dead…..
obama hits the links for the 140th time…

Noam Chomsky - In an interview with Democracy Now, the linguistics professor, author, and prominent left-wing nut -job admitted that Sarah Palin was right about obama in that there was no substance to his presidential campaign. “I don’t usually admire Sarah Palin but when she was making fun of this “hopey-changey” stuff she was right.”

Taking one for Team Pants Suit…..
State Department Defends Decision To Hold Nobody Responsible For Benghazi: “These Are People With Real Lives, Real Careers”… And the people left to die in Benghazi? ….. Collateral damage to Hillary’s ambitions to be President …..

Ditto….. Or…I vote present….
President obama’s spokesman described the murder of Australian baseball player Christopher Lane in Oklahoma as a “pretty tragic case,” saying that The Ruling Liberal King’s comments after the Trayvon Martin case apply to Lane…..

Jesse Jackson “Frowns Upon” killing of Australian baseball player Chris Lane by “Bored” black teens…

Atlanta Business Chronicle: 15K Spouses of UPS Workers to Lose the Health Insurance Obama Promised They Could Keep, Company Cites obamacare As the Reason…

Quote of the day:
If you are to stand up for your government you must be able to stand up to your government.
Harold Caccia

Posted: Friday, August 23, 2013
Article comment by: Mary Jane

@ MJ & the other coprolites,

The desperation to find some lie to hang the GOP hat on has become palpable. The thinking of the 'quickly fading from reality' groups of FOX news(? hahahaha...) junkies seems to be convoluting into something unrecognizable to most people.

Are you all really so afraid of Hillary Clinton and the Dems that you're ready for self-destruction? Your precious GOP took the helm of the presidency from Clinton with surpluses, optimism and prosperity everywhere and quickly ran the ship aground.

The GOP legacy is one of bankrupt, fascist corporate greed destroying the country and the middle class and you have the audacity to ask the citizens to consider giving your cronies another crack at siphoning off what little wealth we have left with your Ponzi schemes?

Oh, I know! Let's privatize Social Security and end Medicare so the Wall St. buzzards can gorge themselves again at the public trough with no repercussions for their criminal behavior. hahahahahahaha...

You can plot, scheme, lie and cry as much as you want, no honest citizen is buying it!

P.S. @ MJ, is there any steam left in your crying jag?

Posted: Friday, August 23, 2013
Article comment by: Bill Bassett

So you read a short article in Judicial Watch about Joe McGavin and the Hardest Hit Fund. An article dated June 7, 2012. No allegation of wrong doing or corruption, only a sort of raised eyebrow of skepticism. That's it.
One article, more than a year old.

ACORN. Another phony scandal. Another dead end on the road to impeachment. Must be very sad for you.

Posted: Friday, August 23, 2013
Article comment by: Another 'well-managed' government program...

In February 2010 the Obama Administration established the Hardest Hit Fund, authorizing $7.6 billion to pay a portion of a borrower’s mortgage payment while unemployed or substantially underemployed.

The Feds were a little slow in actually getting all that money out for distribution. But in early 2011, the Illinois Housing Development Authority's Hardest Hit Program (HHP) scored $445.6 million to help troubled homeowners continue to make mortgage payments for up to 18 months.

$381.4 million was allocated for disbursement, suggesting an administrative budget of $64.2 million.

The state program also had a slow start (only 39 approvals in the first 6 months), but as much as $230 million will have been committed to help pay as many as 9,500 mortgages when the program application period ends on September 30.

If you think about this program, you might wonder...Did it really cost $64.2 million to administer? Who gets the $millions that won't get disbursed? How many of those who are enabled to make mortgage payments for another 18 months will lose their homes when the help period expires and thus be obligated to pay the 'help' money back?

For answers, contact Illinois HHP director Joe McGavin.

You remember Joe, right? Previously director of counseling for ACORN Housing in Chicago and operations manager for ACORN Housing's now-bankrupt reincarnation as Affordable Housing Centers of America?

Posted: Thursday, August 22, 2013
Article comment by: Bill Bassett

Right Wing Stuff. (Goes beyond lunacy)

NRA blasts the compilation of firearm owner data while compiling massive amounts of data on firearm owners.

More republicans in Louisiana blame President Obama for botched federal response to hurricane Katrina that blame former President Bush.

NRA silent on school shooter armed with AK 47 style weapon and 500 rounds of ammunition being talked down by an unarmed school employee who showed compassion, empathy and courage. No one killed or wounded. No "good guy with a gun" needed.

False comparison of Christopher Lang, murder victim in Oklahoma to Tryvon Martin, murder victim in Florida. Both cases are tragic but that is were the similarity ends.

Holds massive anti-immegration rallies and no one shows up.

Perpetuation lies about the ACA like the one about congress members and staffers are exempted and that they can shut down the government unless Obamacare is defunded.

Posted: Wednesday, August 21, 2013
Article comment by: nutso fasst

"The obama Administration has given a $200,000 Housing Grant to rebrand an ACORN affiliate…"

Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has partnered with 'Young Invincibles' to award cash prizes for creating online videos that convince 'millennials' to sign up for Obamacare. Young Invincibles is the 'youth outreach arm' of an organization headed by Deepak Bhargava, previously the legislative director for ACORN.

Posted: Wednesday, August 21, 2013
Article comment by: It seems to me:

Mary Jane should be out helping Pam and Sherry Brannon feed the Verde Village ducks.

Posted: Wednesday, August 21, 2013
Article comment by: M J

Liberal lunacy…

Obamacare – Good enough for the unwashed masses but not for the Elites…
IRS enforcers are asking their congressional representatives to spare them from enrolling in obamacare’s insurance exchanges. The National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU), whose members include most IRS employees, has launched a letter-writing campaign whose goal is to prevent Congress from passing legislation that would require all federal employees to enroll in the exchanges…...

The economy is making a comeback…
30% increase of Americans selling their food stamps back to stores for cash over the past several years according to a new Agriculture Department study

CBO Report: Deficit was $1.087 Trillion in 2012 all four years of barry’s first term saw deficits In excess of $1 Trillion…

odd… sequester never hurt obama’s vacations…
obama warns disabled veterans prolonged sequester could put their benefits in jeopardy

The obama Administration has given a $200,000 Housing Grant to rebrand an ACORN affiliate despite a Federal Ban on funding ACORN …..

New York Dutchess County, Democrat Commissioner Faces 94 Count Indictment for Election Related Violations…

But the real story of the day….

The obama’s get another dog……….
Will Bo the Royal First dog be jealous? …. Stay tuned…..

What… no Liberals protesting……. Where is Sharpton?
Oklahoma: Three Black Teens Murder White Australian Baseball Player Because They Were “Bored”…

No wonder students in Detroit are dumb as rocks…..
“Common Core” math system at work...
A curriculum director recently noted that even if kids get the wrong result, as long they can “explain” how they arrived at their answer, then that is still a good outcome for the Common Core teachers.....

All Liberals are equal, but some are more equal than others
Orwell, modified

Posted: Wednesday, August 21, 2013
Article comment by: J M

@Mary Jane

FYI. Retired social security recipients pay for their Medicare. The premium is deducted from their monthly benefit.

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