Obama full of sound and fury

Obama, hypocrite in chief at the National Prayer Breakfast, and orchestrator of a bodyguard of lies
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This afternoon, shortly after noon Eastern time, de facto President Barack Obama made a speech. He said, in effect, “All right all right, you’ll get to keep your health care plan!” He said not a word about how he would make that happen. He didn’t even discuss whether he has the authority to make that happen. And he either has no idea, or else is all too complicit, on why the insurance companies canceled half a million policies.

To describe the Obama speech on the canceled insurance policies, I can defer to none better than William Shakespeare:

It is a tale

Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,

Signifying nothing.

Macbeth V. v. 28-30

What did Obama say?

Barack Obama lies breathtakingly about the Affordable Care Act

Barack H. Obama. Photo: Pete Souza, January 13, 2009

Remember: Barack Obama said, thirty-six times,

If you like your plan, you can keep your plan. Period. If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor. Period.

More recently he denied he said that. His new version: you could keep your plan if your insurer did not change it after he, Obama, signed the “Affordable Care Act” into law.

This afternoon he said,

Today we will extend that principle to those whose policies did change after the law was passed, and those policies [you] bought new after the law was passed.

What does that mean?

What can that mean? First, Mr. Obama said only he would ask the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to remove any regulation that would stand in the way of that. Then, he said, the insurer would decide whether to keep a policy in force. Or in five million cases, put said policy back into force.

In fact he has no authority to do this. More than regulations from CMS made those policies unprofitable, or less profitable. Specific laws did. Obama did not repeal those laws. He can’t. Only Congress can do that.

Who, then, handed Obama a sceptre, so he could wave it and ignore the law?

Even if he held such a sceptre: does he also expect insurers not to cancel half a million policies? Does he expect State Commissioners of Insurance to wave their own sceptres?

Why the cancellations?

Obama wants to order insurers, peremptorily, to work at a loss. He further seems to assume, or expect, that the insurers, and the insurance commissioners, will “do something.” He won’t say what. He doesn’t even know what. He simply says what he wants to happen and expects them to make it happen. How? He won’t say. Maybe he doesn’t know.

But Barack Obama made the problem, and got the insurers to go along with it.

How? By offering the insurers a Faustian bargain. The new Obamacare regulations have many absurd-looking features. Gynecological care for men! Urology services for women! (Meaning here the care of the male reproductive system, not merely the urinary tract.) Maternity care for couples long past the childbearing years! No insurer would balk at a law or regulation that tells them to offer such services. Why should they? Who wouldn’t want to collect premiums on policies, or parts of them, that would provoke no claims?

With such plums, Obama tempted the insurers. He offered them classic rent-seeking: forcing a customer to buy something and hopefully pay for that something repeatedly. The best rent-seeking is forcing a customer to buy a service he or she will never need. The flip side was a limit on what profit an insurer could make on any one policy: no more than ten percent.

Naturally the insurers would cancel those policies that did not comply with the new law. Obama set it up that way. He offered that bargain. He then told the people,

If you like your plan, you get to keep your plan. Period.

Did he think nobody would actually like the plan? Calling the old plans “sub-standard” is a petulant cry:

But you’re not supposed to like those plans! How could you?

Maybe Obama thought he could convince people they would get a better deal. But aside from web sites that don’t work, the new insurance products have exorbitant premiums and deductibles.

Today Obama tried to roll that back. But at time of posting, the Washington State insurance commissioner has already refused. Those who speak for the insurance industry talk of “de-stabilization of the insurance market.” Meaning:

Sorry, Obama. But you made a bargain, and we’re going to hold you to it.

No doubt Obama thinks he can simply blame them. He tried that before. It didn’t work before. It won’t work this time. Maybe the insurers have another weapon: they can rat him out.

So what has Obama accomplished? Again, nothing.

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Terry A. Hurlbut has been a student of politics, philosophy, and science for more than 35 years. He is a graduate of Yale College and has served as a physician-level laboratory administrator in a 250-bed community hospital. He also is a serious student of the Bible, is conversant in its two primary original languages, and has followed the creation-science movement closely since 1993.

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