Thursday, March 10, 2011

ObamaCare One Year Later

March commemorates an anniversary of dubious celebratory value.  It's been a year now that the President's health care push yielded progressive gold in the form of legislation creating 159 new federal agencies, promising countless high-paying jobs for public union plutocrats, and capturing control of 17% of the American economy.  As Vice-President Biden said upon the bill's signing, it "was a big f___ing deal!"

Unfortunately, the bill continues to create consternation in the form of 28 state suits challenging the law's constitutionality; a projected $118 billion in unfunded mandates to the states in the first 10 years of the law's operation; 1,000 waivers from onerous new insurance rules to select companies, unions and states; a rising cost of health insurance estimated to add $2,100 of expense to a family policy by 2016; the current loss of child-only health insurance in 20 states; a projected 40% decrease in the number of health care providers serving Medicare patients; thousands currently losing company health insurance; and more.

In other ObamaCare news, who can forget Speaker Pelosi's puzzling comments about having to pass the bill before we could find out what was in it.

Well, as the puzzle becomes clearer, one of the things we're finding out is that Speakers Pelosi and Reid smuggled $105 billion of mandatory appropriation funding into the law, ready to be administered over the coming eight years by the Secretary of Health and Human Services.  This has Representative Michelle Bachman understandably upset.

National Public Radio (NPR--about which more will be said in a forthcoming post), however, leaps to inform the electorate that Rep. Bachman has no call to be surprised.  This money was clearly spelled out in the bill  (which Congress needed to pass in order to find out what was in it), and Bachman's complaints merely indicate that she didn't read it before voting.  Noman thought that was the point of the President's numerous, arbitrary deadlines--to have the Democratic Congress pass the 2,000 page bill before anybody had a chance to read it, especially the public.  That's not to say that Democrats didn't know by nods and winks--certainly not by reading anything--that there was a mandatory appropriation slush fund in the law, just in case public anger persisted through the November 2010 elections (which it did).

The title of NPR's piece reminds Noman of the quip that when one encounters an essay entitled "Whither Incest?" he shouldn't expect to encounter a ringing endorsement of traditional morals.  Nevertheless, the Democratic claim that Republicans do this when they're in the majority deserves some scrutiny.  Rep. Frank Malone (D-NJ) analogizes the stealth health care funding to the 2003 Medicare drug funding bill passed by the Republican Congress.  It contained $1.5 billion in mandatory appropriations, and an unlimited appropriation to fund the transitional drug assistance program.  Noman finds President Bush's thankless foray into "compassionate conservatism" an interesting comparison.  First, the transitional drug assistance program provided $600 for low income beneficiaries (135% of poverty line for family size) participating in the drug discount card program.  If there were one million such beneficiaries, the total mandatory appropriations amounted to $2.1 billion.  That's a far cry from $105 billion, I think even Rep. Malone would concur.  More importantly, while the House passed the Medicare drug bill by a vote of 220-215 with little party crossover, the Senate vote reflected bipartisan consensus.  Nine Republican Senators voted against the entitlement, while eleven Democrats voted for it along with one Independent.  One of ObamaCare's many stigmas is that it managed to become law without one Republican vote in either chamber.   That's quite an accomplishment--historical in fact--especially given the bevy of Republicans in Name Only (RINOs) in both houses.  Finally, the Medicare entitlement amounted to an unconscionable (to detractors) cost of $395 billion over ten years.  As of February 2011, The Congressional Budget Office estimates ObamaCare's ten-year cost to total $1.4 trillion, or 350% more than the Medicare entitlement.  Noman finds Rep. Malone's comparison inapposite, for being different in kind rather than merely degree.

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