‘The fiasco for the ages’
Nancy Pelosi told us there would be days like this. The only way to find out what was in Obamacare was to pass it and see what happens. Congress passed it, the messiah signed it, and we’re beginning to see what happens.
Barack Obama and the gang that can’t shoot straight aren’t having much fun, but if they think they aren’t having fun now, just wait. The “best” is yet to come.
The best the Democrats can say about Obamacare is that it’s an approaching train wreck, in the memorable description of Sen. Max Baucus of Montana. Mr. Baucus was one of the authors of the legislation and now he’s hurrying home to Montana for good, anxious to avert his eyes from all the hair, teeth and eyeballs soon to be scattered along the railroad right-of-way.
Pundits and professors are rifling through the thesaurus, looking for the right word to describe what the Wall Street Journal calls “a fiasco for the ages.” The Journal editorialists reminded everyone that they “fought the Affordable Care Act from start to passage, and we’d like to apologize to our readers. It turns out we weren’t nearly critical enough.” The editors of the New York Times, Mr. Obama’s most reliable sycophants, are deep in mourning, but working furiously to apply more rouge to the corpse before it turns the parlor too fragrant for a wake. It’s summer and they’re running out of ice.
The “downside” to the delay in implementing the employer mandate is that it gives Republican critics the facts and figures, the "ammunition to portray the health care reforms as a failure,” the Times says. But not to worry, the year’s delay decreed by the president will allow the Internal Revenue Service time to figure out “how this mandate will work . . . it is more important to do this right than to do it quickly.” It’s ever so reassuring to know the IRS is on the case.
Mr. Obama and his gang obviously don’t know what to do next. Handwringing and delay is never a strategy for D-Day; when the beach slides under the bottom of the Higgins boats it’s too late to consider whether the invasion was a good idea. The White House announced the one-year delay in enforcing the employer insurance mandate for Obamacare, which might not even be legal, just as everyone was hurrying out of Dodge for the Fourth of July holiday. Minions were hastily assigned to explain the delay.
Mark Mazur, the deputy assistant (or is it the assistant deputy?) of the Treasury assigned to dream up new taxes, complained that the delay was caused by the “complexity of the requirements.” Life, in addition to being unfair, turns out to be complicated, too. Valerie Jarrett, the president’s most trusted (if not necessarily most competent) adviser, promised that the determined president is “staying the course.” This is not reassuring, either, since it’s “the course” that’s the source of the disaster. The flood has washed out the bridge across the river, but never mind, the road to where the bridge used to be is still there.
Obamacare probably can’t be fixed short of dumping it and starting over, but this would require an admission by the president and his men (and women) that they’re as incompetent and maladroit as events reveal them to be. The president’s acolytes in the media hail the delay as a genius stroke of politics, something to get the Democrats past the 2014 congressional elections before “the fiasco for the ages” is displayed in full. The president knows better. If this is a genius stroke of politics, he would have called the correspondents into the Rose Garden and, flanked by Cabinet ministers, announced the delay to cheers and applause.
Over the weeks and months leading to November 2014, as The New York Times observes, the Republicans will have ample opportunity to apply their ammunition to a very fat and attractive target. Even now, the lawyers are searching for clients and precedents to attack the legality of Mr. Obama’s delay. The language of the Affordable Care Act sets out in Section 1513 in “black-letter law” that its provisions “shall apply to months beginning after December 31, 2013.” The language is plain and clear; only a lawyer or judge could misunderstand it.
Plain and clear though the language is, Obamacare was carelessly written and pounded through Congress with such speed and abandon that no one had time (or inclination) to see what was in it. Now we know, and the best is yet to come.
Wesley Pruden is editor emeritus of The Washington Times.