Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Dismantling Obamacare

Obama is being forced to destroy his signature, legacy-building initiative in order to save it.
The wrecking ball swung again toward the crumbling Obamacare edifice yesterday. Ironically, it continues to be the Obama administration that is operating the heavy machinery.
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced, in the form of a letter to Democratic senators, that Obamacare’s individual mandate tax will be waived in 2014 for persons who had their policies canceled in 2013 due to Obamacare.

At this point, after months of on-the-fly pronouncements, delays, and exemptions (often announced, not coincidentally, in the days just before a major national holiday), perhaps nothing should surprise us anymore about Obamacare’s disastrous rollout.  But yesterday’s announcement is still startling because of what it says about the state of the president’s signature domestic legislation. The law is falling apart before our eyes.

No doubt the administration’s defenders will argue that this is simply a tactical retreat, executed with surgical precision, and intended to protect the law from more serious legislative threats in 2014.  Better to give a little by executive action now than to invite an impossible-to-control revolt by Democrats in the Senate later, the thinking goes. And by orchestrating the tactical retreat in conjunction with political allies (the Sebelius letter followed by one day a letter requesting the change from six Senate Democrats), the administration is hoping its party will get credit with voters for “smoothing the transition” to Obamacare.

But by conceding that the individual mandate can and should be delayed for one group, the administration has opened a major can of worms.  For starters, this exemption is going to strike many Americans as blatantly unfair and arbitrary.  It comes at the 11th hour, after millions of people, including those with canceled plans, have already made their choices based on the rules they thought would be in effect.  The administration said for months that the mandate would not be waived for anyone, even those with canceled policies, and it vowed a veto of any delay legislation coming out of Congress. Now the rules


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