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October 23, 2013

Doubling Down On Stupid

One of the more amusing Twitter memes to come out of the White House's National Park Service antics was #SpiteHouse. No, we didn't link to it, but we laughed just the same. So we can't help wondering how this sort of thing is any different from the Obama administration's recent display of pettiness?

SHOULDA TAKEN THAT LIFE PRESERVER THE GOP WAS READY TO THROW: Jeanne Shaheen: Hey, maybe Obama should think about delaying that individual mandate. “You know they’re all thinking about it, even if they won’t all say so.” If I were the GOP, my position would be that that ship has sailed, and you’re going to have to live with the results.

The problem ought to be obvious here. Obama isn't going to have to live with the results, because his health insurance doesn't depend on the successful operation of the federal exchanges. Neither do the policies of Congress or cabinet members like Katherine Sebelius.

Who's going to suffer the most if Republicans cut their constituents' noses off to spite the DNC? People like Elise, who had their own insurance but received cancellation letters from their providers. People who didn't ask for the so-called Affordable Care Act to be foisted upon them and are now suffering the consequences of a policy they opposed from the start:

I’m pretty sure I can buy health insurance directly from my current carrier, without going through the exchanges. At first glance, it looks like I can get a policy that will cost about the same as the one I have now but with much higher out-of-pocket costs. I cannot tell you how thrilled I am about that. Seriously thrilled about knowing I won’t have to choose between using the exchanges and going without coverage. Sarcastically thrilled about getting less for my money.


People who have spent the last few weeks desperately trying to secure coverage from a broken system:

Over at NRO, David French has written a post entitled “The Tea-Party Plan to Delay/Defund Obamacare Was Not Only More Realistic, It Was More Compassionate”:
Not only did the tea-party plan have a chance, it was far less cynical and far more compassionate than the Republican alternative. The Republican alternative to the tea-party plan boils down to this: Let the people suffer (also called ”let Obamacare implode”), then they’ll come to us, we’ll win a [bunch] of elections over several cycles, then we’ll make it better.

Well, step one is working (if that’s the right word to use). People are suffering. Over the weekend, NBC News reported that 460,000 Americans in just two states (California and Florida) face insurance-plan cancellations as they’re being driven to the non-functioning exchanges. That’s ten times more people facing cancellations in just two states than have (allegedly) enrolled in Obamacare plans nationwide.

Imagine being a middle-aged man or woman, staring at a cancellation notice, and desperately trying to sign up for new insurance through a website that doesn’t work. How would you feel?

I don’t have to imagine - I am staring at a cancellation notice and at a website that doesn’t work. And all the Republican glee about how bad the roll-out has been is making me, what’s the word, oh, yeah - bitter.

Elise, a thoughtful writer whose judgment I respect, makes an excellent point in the comments:

What I see, in Washington and in the writings on both sides of the political divide, is a lack of connection to the reality of human lives. I don't think that kind of connection necessarily manifests itself as Right-leaning or Left-leaning; it manifests itself as an understanding on some gut level that political struggles have repercussions outside the ballot box and the corridors of power.

As much as conservatives like to think of the electorate as some sort of fictional, rational organism, voters are human. Yes, they think (and few writers I've seen are as dispassionate and fair as Elise when she's dissecting an issue). But they also feel, and when people who pride themselves on being self sufficient and planning for the future suddenly lose their insurance through no fault of their own, they are right to worry about how it will be replaced and what the new policy will cost them.

The last position opponents of ObamaCare need to take now is, "You broke it - you bought it". It's our country and one sixth of our economy that is being broken, and real people will suffer as a result.

Gloating or saying (in effect), "I hope Obama and the DNC choke on their own incompetence" isn't going to play terribly well with the public because powerful Democrats won't suffer any of the consequences of their failure to plan. The reflexive urge to score points on the opposition or resist what they think of as political correctness (or sometimes just common human decency) has lured conservatives into some pretty spectacular own goals of late.

"It was just weird. I mean, to me, you know, hey, if he said, 'Hey, you got really hot breasts man, I'd love to suck on them.' Then like, yeah, cool. But like, he didn't say that," Shaftan explained. "It was like kind of like, I don't know, it was like what a gay guy would say to a stripper. It's the way he was talking to her. It's just like like there was no sexual interest at all. I don't know. To me, if I was single and you know like some stripper was tweeting me, I might take advantage of the perks of the office, you know?"

We need to remain true to our own professed values. We can't criticize the White House for acting spitefully and then do the same thing ourselves.

Self restraint used to be a revered practice among conservatives. When our own rhetoric infuriates people who share our beliefs and are already inclined to vote for conservative policies, I'm pretty sure we're not doing politics right.

Posted by Cassandra at October 23, 2013 07:53 AM

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Comments

I wouldn't gloat too loudly. There's a very big trap looming. When this whole sh*tshow got underway a few years ago, what the hard Left really wanted was a "Single Payer" system. It couldn't manage to pull that off politically, so what we got instead was this piece of crap. Now, when this thing craters those same folks aren't just going to say "Oops! Let's just go back to the old way." No m'am. What were going to get is "We told you that it should have been Single Payer! Now let's make it Single Payer!" Mark my words, folks, these folks are rooting for the failure of ObamaCrap as much as anybody. And they'll win, too.

Posted by: spd rdr at October 23, 2013 10:33 AM

I hope you're wrong, but fear you are right spd.

Posted by: Cassandra at October 23, 2013 10:56 AM

Yeah, well you know what "hope" is worth these days. But if you think about it, once Obamacare completely tanks (as it must, because it's built upon completely unrealistic economic assumptions, the idea of universal "free" healthcare for all is going to sound pretty tempting. ("No more insurance companies! No more long forms to fill out! All you have to do is keep breathing and your covered... for LIFE!*") Sure, you and I will be paying taxes of 70%, but think about how much better you'll feel!

*As determined by a panel of political appointees.

Posted by: spd rdr at October 23, 2013 11:21 AM

Sure, you and I will be paying taxes of 70%, but think about how much better you'll feel!

Hey, it could be worse mr rdr. You could be living in the Peoples' Republic of Maryland, where tax increases are retroactive :p

Posted by: Cassandra at October 23, 2013 12:15 PM

I agree that Republican's should pass the delay, but they should title it the "We Told You So Act of 2013".

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at October 23, 2013 12:58 PM

No gloating, agreed.

Well, maybe sort-of. "More in sorrow than anger." Agree to a postponement but point out that it was one of the GOP "compromise" proposals that were definitively "absolutely not" to be considered, but now the Harry&Barry puppet show apparently wants it, and it may be the best that Rs can get.

Posted by: John A at October 23, 2013 01:44 PM

"If Obamacare is allowed to stand, and Congress is allowed to make the purchase of government-endorsed health insurance compulsory -- there will be no meaningful limit on Washington’s reach into the lives of the American people. That is certainly not what the Founders intended."
- Senator John Cornyn (R-Tx)

Under the circumstances, more than delay is called for. Under the circumstances – hitting an iceberg – discussing tomorrow's recreation and activities schedule is... like... what... whistling past Davey Jones' Locker?

Talk like Patton, operate like Quisling – the Republican Way.

To stand, to obstruct, to undermine, to fight, all frighten the GOP. They will be blamed for having brought down a teetering economy that every day puts to greater risk the wealth of the middle class. They will be blamed for denying 'healthcare' to millions. They will be labeled - for their contention - racists. We can't have any of that. Nothing matters more now than to be blameless.

Most revealing of the GOP's attitude - it indicts the Party and almost all it's members as having no constituency but themselves – their own interest, their own reputations, and their own sinecures. It's one thing to avoid run of the mill political petulance. It's one thing to pick one's fights judiciously, paying attention to weight and class – no-one wants to get clobbered for someone else's entertainment. It's quite another to make concessions to Obama's resolute socialism; to embrace, however many protestations of reluctance accompany it, the fundamental transformation of the country.

To witness a Republican take a stand is to be reminded, by contrast, of the Founders. How wonderful it must have been to live in the time, and in the place in which those men cast their formidable shadows. Think of those men, with so small a measure – relatively* - of complaint, risking wealth, reputation, and their lives, for so great an enterprise as freedom, against so great an entity as the greatest Empire the world had ever known. And it was not in the defense of freedom but the pursuit of it.

And our conservative clowns face not sticks or stones but tremble at being called names and shake at the prospect of having to work, rather than just vote, for a living.

*Patrick Henry spoke treason for so little as the Stamp Act
According to historian H.W. Crocker III, Patrick Henry:
... used the Stamp Act to declare that as Caesar had his Brutus and King Charles I his Cromwell so too would "some good American stand up in favor of his country." When the burgesses interrupted Henry with calls of "Treason!" he replied, "If this be treason, make the most of it."

God how I love those men.

In the midst of a fundamental transformation of the country one does not delay, one fights – even if it costs a plump ass a plush seat. To make concessions as the GOP has been doing now for fifty years should put an end to all doubts – we have a One Party system with two disputatious factions. It's kinda like the Bolsheviks and Mensheviks.

Posted by: George Pal at October 23, 2013 02:31 PM

George:

I think it's always easy to make the case for doing almost anything so long as one agrees with the end state. The real test of a principle, though, is whether you still think it's valid if you *disagree* with the desired end state.

So let's look at the Iraq/Afghanistan wars. Democrats did all the things that Republicans are trying to do now: they obstructed, they tried to defund the war effort, etc. I know, because on April 16th of 2007, I stood behind President Bush on the stage in the White House as he appealed to the American people to support the war effort and the Surge, and resist Harry Reid's open sabotage of those same efforts.

So was Reid correct to do as he did? If not, why?

Posted by: Cassandra at October 23, 2013 03:24 PM

By the way, I think it's unfair to say the GOP wants to be blameless. What they just did got them plenty of blame.

I'm not sure how one gets to the notion that they were unwilling to be blamed. That's exactly what they just finished doing, from where I sit. And though I actually disagreed with them, I held my fire.

At what point do elected officials vote their own conscience as opposed to doing the will of the people who elected them? This is not an easy question. If you say they are beholden to the folks who elected them (this is what I believe in all but the most extreme cases), then what evidence is there that a majority of their constituents wanted them to do whatever it took to end ObamaCare?

Posted by: Cassandra at October 23, 2013 03:29 PM

I agree that Republican's should pass the delay, but they should title it the "We Told You So Act of 2013".

I think the GOP should support the delay, and take every single opportunity to remind the public that this is what they asked for all along. And there's nothing wrong with saying, "We told you so". Nothing whatsoever.

What stinks to high heaven is saying, "We were willing to shut the govt. down to get the delay, but now we don't want it anymore."

Hypocritical AND stupid. And acting in bad faith.

Posted by: Cassandra at October 23, 2013 03:31 PM

Agree to a postponement but point out that it was one of the GOP "compromise" proposals that were definitively "absolutely not" to be considered, but now the Harry&Barry puppet show apparently wants it

Exactly.

What I'm not understanding in George's comment is how we repeal ObamaCare without the necessary votes? It's all well to talk about fighting - what seems to be missing here is the whole ammunition part. But maybe I'm misunderstanding?

Posted by: Cassandra at October 23, 2013 03:35 PM

I can't speak for George, but I don't remember criticizing the Dems over their means of opposition. One of the reasons I despised the Dems was that after gaining control of both houses of congress they *didn't* vote to defund the wars. It showed that they only wanted to be able to claim opposition to the war even though they knew fighting it was the right thing. If they *really* objected they could have passed funding only sufficient for bringing people and material home. But no, they just didn't want a Republican in charge.

And I can't imagine the howls of derision, gloating, and invective had Bush come back to them and said "Hey, guys. This war thing isn't working too well, you think you could vote for that obstruction again? I think I can get the Republicans to vote with you this time."

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at October 23, 2013 03:41 PM

"We were willing to shut the govt. down to get the delay, but now we don't want it anymore."

I don't know that it's bad faith, but after listening to my brother call me an idiot for a couple of months because I thought his pool table should go in a different room, and *now* he wants my help moving his pool table to the room I suggested. Sorry, **** you. Move it your damn self.

It isn't bad faith, it's a very justified and righteous anger. The only mitigating factor is the innocent third parties. In my opinion, a G**-d***** f****** apology isn't out of line.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at October 23, 2013 04:00 PM

It's bad faith when any party claims to stand on principle, loses a fight, then they get a chance to get what the originally said they were fighting for (for the good of the country), but chooses to say, "Naaah.... we don't want that anymore - suck it, losers!"

Is it perfectly understandable from a human standpoint? Sure.

But you lose any shred of credibility that you were really standing on principle at that point. And that's my point. If we claimed this was necessary for the good of the country, how is it smart/honest/credible/moral to turn right around not two-three weeks later and say, "Ummm... we changed our minds."?

Anger (or apologies) are a separate matter from what's good for the country or what's the right thing to do. And I expect the people who run this country to be big enough to do what's right even when that's hard.

Posted by: Cass at October 23, 2013 04:39 PM

I don't remember criticizing the Dems over their means of opposition.

No, I don't remember your doing that either. And I took a fair amount of heat, as I recall, for our side for saying they were entitled to do their utmost to block the war effort if that's what they truly believed was best for the country.

And I criticized them for not having the guts to actually vote to defund.

My beef is with the significant part of our party that seems to want this both ways. They want to call the Dems traitors when they used these tactics under Bush, but somehow we're not traitors to use those tactics under Obama.

I'm not claiming George is in that camp, by the way. He wasn't around VC during the time I'm talking about so I have absolutely no idea what his take would have been. I'm just raising the issue because if you (generic "you", not "Yu-Ain" you) believe it's right when we do it, then I don't see how you can turn around and say it's wrong for the Dems to do it.

Posted by: Cass at October 23, 2013 04:44 PM

Thanks for this, Cassandra. I just put up a long (Teal Deer long) post at my place with thoughts about the dilemma I think the Republicans are in. I have some suggestions about what the Republicans can do to help both real people and themselves but delaying the individual mandate/tax/fine isn't one of them.

I don't think delaying the individual mandate and/or the associated fine/tax (fax? tine?) will help substantively (people aren't worried about that, they're worried about not being able to get health insurance). It might buy the Republicans some political credit but the substantive outcome will either be nothing (the fine/tax is too small to enter into decisions about whether to enroll) or huge: the dreaded death spiral as the young invincibles now have absolutely no incentive whatsoever to enroll, especially if they have to struggle with a lousy website that may or may not actually be enrolling them.

Republicans may rub their hands in glee at the idea of the death spiral but if it takes down the private health insurance industry, what happens then? As for Democrats, they may figure a death spiral is good because, hey, it will take down the private health insurance industry and hello single payer. Or they may think a death spiral is bad because it takes down ObamaCare and while that might be good (single payer) it might also be bad (if the Republicans can actually get traction on the "it's all the Democrats' fault" argument).

Posted by: Elise at October 23, 2013 04:52 PM

Well, as I said at your place I was slow to get your initial point but after thinking about it, it seemed like a valid one.

There are always short term and long term objectives in any struggle. I think that's part of why even people who agree on the large goals disagree on tactics.

As always, your writing does make me think and that's (hopefully) a good thing. Looking forward to reading your post.

Posted by: Cassandra at October 23, 2013 04:55 PM

"Naaah.... we don't want that anymore

I don't think it's "we don't want it anymore". It's "I tried to help you, you made it abundently clear you didn't want our help and that we were bad people for trying".

Right or wrong (read: wrong) it isn't bad faith anymore than a parent allowing a child to learn an object lesson.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at October 23, 2013 04:56 PM

"So was Reid correct to do as he did?"

Reid was obviously not acting on principle – he is so much a political animal he'll snarl over territory. That extends to Rs as well as Ds. What goes on in DC is not governance it is politics by other means. This had happened when the Parties had been elevated to more than general political association. Each party now exerts so much power and control over affiliated members that it's actually embarrassing. The Parties as much jeopardize democracy as the disengaged/uninformed voter and the universal franchise.

?At what point do elected officials vote their own conscience as opposed to doing the will of the people who elected them?"

Congressional officers make no oath to their conscience, or to their constituents. They make it to the Constitution.

The ammunition, sans votes, in the House, is in the purse. They should say to the Senate and the Exec – you want it you pay for it – a cup cake drive perhaps. If you have the power – use it. It is not unconstitutional – yet. If you will not use it you are suspect.

Posted by: George Pal at October 23, 2013 05:24 PM

The ammunition, sans votes, in the House, is in the purse. They should say to the Senate and the Exec – you want it you pay for it – a cup cake drive perhaps. If you have the power – use it. It is not unconstitutional – yet. If you will not use it you are suspect.

I am OK with that. As I told my son, I really wasn't willing to shut the govt. down over ObamaCare, but that doesn't mean that I think it's wrong to try. The debt is a serious issue.

This is an area where I disagreed over tactics, but didn't criticize b/c I genuinely see the other side of the argument, while not for a single moment doubting my own position.

Posted by: Cassandra at October 23, 2013 05:34 PM

I don't think it's "we don't want it anymore". It's "I tried to help you, you made it abundently clear you didn't want our help and that we were bad people for trying".

To me, that seems like making a personal issue over losing a fight. So I can't agree.

Right or wrong (read: wrong) it isn't bad faith anymore than a parent allowing a child to learn an object lesson.

A child learns an object lesson by personally experiencing the consequences of bad decisions. That isn't going to happen here, though. As I've already pointed out, none of these twits is going to be hurt personally by their incompetence.

Someone else will pay the price. So we're punishing Peter for Paul's misdeeds. Doesn't seem right to me.

Posted by: Cassandra at October 23, 2013 05:37 PM

Doesn't seem right to me.

Which is why I think it is bad tactics, not bad faith. They aren't lying about what they are doing. They're actually being rather honest that their motives are personal*.


*Though not about "losing the fight" but rather at the invective used in it, which absolutely is personal.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at October 23, 2013 06:09 PM

OK, I understand what you're saying now. We're using "bad faith" in different ways.

What I'm saying is that this stance shows bad faith to the public (we said this was best for the country and we were willing to fight for what was best for the country, but now we're saying we don't actually want what's best for the country). I didn't understand that your "bad faith" referred to the honesty of their argument, which if you're summarizing it correctly, amounts to, "We wanted what was best for the country and you thwarted us. So now we're willing to let you (and everyone else) suffer for your mistake."

I meant bad faith more in the sense of a breach of duty. I looked it up (because I'm always interested in the definition of words) and apparently "bad faith" can mean both deception and refusal to perform a duty:

Bad Faith
The fraudulent deception of another person; the intentional or malicious refusal to perform some duty or contractual obligation.

I guess I believe that if a public servant holds something out to the public as their duty and claims to be acting in accordance with that duty, that servant can't deny the duty when that is expedient.

Sort of an estoppel argument, I suppose.

Posted by: Cass at October 23, 2013 06:16 PM

"We wanted what was best for the country and you thwarted us. So now we're willing to let you (and everyone else) suffer for your mistake."

Exactly. It's the "including those who opposed Obamacare" subset of the "and everyone else" part that makes it bad tactics. If only the supporters had to suffer: Chump don' want no help, chump don't GET da help!

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at October 23, 2013 06:25 PM

The law doesn't need to be delayed or fiddled with. It needs to have a stake driven through its heart.

Our coverage is being canceled; it doesn't suit Queen Sebelius. Now we'll get to buy a new policy with an annual deductible that's $4,000 lower, but costs $4,800 more every year. Thanks, Mr. President! I should have known that my affordable high-deductible policy was bad for me!

If the law is delayed, will Blue Cross bring our coverage back? I doubt it.

Kill the bill. And while we're at it, kill the careers of every single Senator and Congressman that cozied up to it. Primary them until they bleed, and then do it again in November 2014.

Posted by: Texan99 at October 23, 2013 07:36 PM

The law doesn't need to be delayed or fiddled with. It needs to have a stake driven through its heart.

And how do we do that? What is the mechanism?

Posted by: Cassandra at October 23, 2013 07:50 PM

And how do we do that? What is the mechanism?
Sharp stick and clue bat.

Posted by: spd rdr at October 23, 2013 07:55 PM

Thanks, Mr. President! I should have known that my affordable high-deductible policy was bad for me!

Yes, this is what Left-leaning commenters refer to as "crappy, sub-standard insurance". As in, someone in a comment thread says, "I've bought individual health insurance for years and now my policy has been cancelled" and the Left-leaner responds, "I can't believe you're complaining about not being able to buy crappy, sub-standard health insurance any longer."

I've spent so much time over the last three weeks frothing at the mouth that my husband is worrying I've got rabies.

Posted by: Elise at October 23, 2013 08:06 PM

The estoppel argument goes both ways. Democrats can't argue that it is their duty to the people to implement ObamaCare without delay even if that means shutting down the government or threatening default and that doing otherwise is unconscionable then turn around and deny that duty when it becomes inconvenient.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at October 23, 2013 08:50 PM

Sharp stick and clue bat.

OK mr rdr :p

You are going to hate me (or maybe not!) for saying this, but I think that so many voters just don't get the fundamental problems (both moral and economic) with ObamaCare that the only way to change that is experience.

And that's time consuming.

I'm confused/unconvinced by the suggestions that somehow, if we could just repeal this law now, the fight would go away. It wouldn't.

I think we need a major shift of public opinion on the order of Prohibition or the 19th amendment - IOW, the change of heart has got to be broad based.

I was more than a bit surprised to see that it took 50 years to convince the nation to give women the vote (though parts of the conservative movement seem determined to reverse that if they could). 50 years is a long time.

Pain is a wonderful motivator, and I believe the only way this problem of people thinking they are entitled to benefits paid for by someone else goes away is when it is graphically illustrated that the resulting pain outweighs the benefit. That's a depressing thought, but it's what I believe.

Posted by: Cassandra at October 23, 2013 08:55 PM

The estoppel argument goes both ways. Democrats can't argue that it is their duty to the people to implement ObamaCare without delay even if that means shutting down the government or threatening default and that doing otherwise is unconscionable then turn around and deny that duty when it becomes inconvenient.

Absolutely! In fact, I almost added that to my comment.

But the remedy isn't that they aren't allowed to say it - it's that people respond, "I don't want to hear that crap. When you went back on your supposedly heartfelt conviction, you lost all credibility with me."

Posted by: Cassandra at October 23, 2013 08:58 PM

Won't happen. He who pays the piper calls the tune. The dems pay enough people they have no choice but to dance to it.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at October 23, 2013 09:05 PM

I love you guys, but you're too pessimistic.

Nothing last forever. Today is a blip on the horizon of history - I'm taking the long view, which is to say that I believe there's a natural cycle to things.

That doesn't mean we shouldn't act. Just that it makes sense not to get too discouraged if we don't get immediate gratification. History shows that what can't continue indefinitely, won't.

Posted by: Cassandra at October 23, 2013 10:17 PM

Glass-Steagall, somewhat draconian sure but it worked.

That's old, we need a new thing, we'll set up a Savings and Loan work around. Oh. My. Heavens. The people who got screwed! Those SOB's running them. Crisis!

We don't need Glass-Steagall, just repeal it and boom times are a coming. What? Bank failures, never heard of such a thing. Crisis!

Well Frank-Dodd will fix that.

We can fix the Budget deficit so we passed Gramm, Rudmann, Hollings, it appears to be working. Screw that we're fat, repeal it. We'll do Paygo.

Health insurance, got it down. I know, I know, 90% of people are covered. We have a plan.

If you think this can be fixed you're dreaming.

Posted by: Allen at October 24, 2013 01:18 AM

If the law is delayed, will Blue Cross bring our coverage back? I doubt it.

That said, if they killed the bill entirely right now, would the insurance companies take back the patients they just dumped? Particularly those who may have developed conditions since first obtaining insurance (which would probably be considered "pre-existing" for purposes of getting back on the company's rolls).

Pain is a wonderful motivator, and I believe the only way this problem of people thinking they are entitled to benefits paid for by someone else goes away is when it is graphically illustrated that the resulting pain outweighs the benefit. That's a depressing thought, but it's what I believe.

My worry here is that, by the time people finally learn this, the private health insurance industry will already have been wrecked to the point where we would have to entirely rebuild it from scratch. How would we even go about that?

History shows that what can't continue indefinitely, won't.

Unfortunately, there's several ways to stop continuing. A major, life-saving course correction is one. Maintaining denial because reality is too painful and you have a convenient scapegoat, right up to the point where you crash, burn, and die, is another. People wreck their own lives this way all the time; I'm worried that when they vote as a block for the Denial of Economic Reality Party, the resulting policies may take all of us with them on the downward spiral.

Posted by: Matt at October 24, 2013 01:39 AM

History shows that what can't continue indefinitely, won't.

And there inlies the problem. If ObamaCare is not destroyed quickly, it will become a new "third rail". Completely untouchable no matter how bad it becomes. You thought the killing granny rhetoric was bad before it was passed? Just wait a couple of years.

We cannot afford the entitlements we have much less add a hellaciously expensive new one. It will not proceed to cause minor pain whereupon people will learn. It will cause minor pain whereupon The Evil Rich People™ will be blamed and the gov't will be able to make it right if you but give them a little more power. This won't actually fix anything, but that's not the point. When it fails, they will be blamed again.

Lather, Rinse, Repeat.

Even when it becomes a major pain, people will still not learn. Detroit has rode that train almost to the very end and noone there is blaming Democratic policy and learning from their mistakes. Like communism, they just had a few bad people, if they got the right ones, they are sure it will still work. Detroit couldn't go on like that forever and it hasn't. I'm just failing to see where that made anything better.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at October 24, 2013 09:42 AM

"That said, if they killed the bill entirely right now, would the insurance companies take back the patients they just dumped? Particularly those who may have developed conditions since first obtaining insurance (which would probably be considered "pre-existing" for purposes of getting back on the company's rolls)."

I'm still a Blue Cross customer. If Blue Cross starts offering affordable and sensible high-deductible coverage again, I'll switch back to it. But I agree it all should happen as quickly as possible, before people drop their coverage altogether and can't afford to replace it. If we keep nibbling away at the sharp edges of the plan, hoping to make it temporarily more palatable, we're missing the point. It needs to die, along with the careers of every meddling idiot politician who supported it, and the credibility of every idiot voter who put them in office.

Posted by: Texan99 at October 24, 2013 09:43 AM

I absolutely agree that the best course of action is for the Affordable Care Act to be repealed. But, like Cassandra, I don't see anyway for that to happen now or anytime soon. In order to get rid of this law before January 2017, one of these things has to happen:

Either Obama has to be willing to not veto a repeal of the bill; or

people opposed to the bill have to be a veto-proof majority in the House and the Senate.

Neither is going to happen. The numbers aren't there. There is not great reservoir of conservative righteous anger that is going to rise up and force a repeal. Most people not directly affected don't care and a lot of people who are directly affected would rather have a lousy system with the promise of improvement than no system at all.

We're stuck with this law for the next 3 years. Republicans can use the problems with it to amend it in such a way that it weakens the government grip or they can Let It Burn. If they LIB, then they risk exactly what Matt talks about:

My worry here is that, by the time people finally learn this, the private health insurance industry will already have been wrecked to the point where we would have to entirely rebuild it from scratch. How would we even go about that?

Megan McArdle has up an excellent post, "Why Obamacare Is Like Three Mile Island" which talks about the danger of the death spiral. (Actually all her posts in the last few weeks about ObamaCare are worth walking back through.) And her "America's Empathy Failure on Obamacare" reinforces my belief that ObamaCare isn't going away.

I want this law gone really, really badly. I applaud any and all efforts to get rid of it. But I'd prefer Republicans use the problems to get what they can, rather than stand back and let ObamaCare either take down private health insurance by failing or become an untouchable entitlement by succeeding.

Posted by: Elise at October 24, 2013 11:43 AM

Elise, it will become an untouchable entitlement even if it fails.

And by failing, it will become a bigger one.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at October 24, 2013 11:49 AM

Elise, it will become an untouchable entitlement even if it fails.

Then what is the right course of action? Do nothing, don't fight for changes, and figure ObamaCare is a good thing because it will actually hasten the inevitable financial collapse? (That sounds snippy but I'm actually sincerely asking.)

Posted by: Elise at October 24, 2013 12:08 PM

I absolutely agree that the best course of action is for the Affordable Care Act to be repealed. But, like Cassandra, I don't see anyway for that to happen now or anytime soon. In order to get rid of this law before January 2017, one of these things has to happen:

Either Obama has to be willing to not veto a repeal of the bill; or

people opposed to the bill have to be a veto-proof majority in the House and the Senate.

Neither is going to happen. The numbers aren't there. There is no great reservoir of conservative righteous anger that is going to rise up and force a repeal. Most people not directly affected don't care and a lot of people who are directly affected would rather have a lousy system with the promise of improvement than no system at all.

This is the point I gave up trying to make b/c people get so angry when you bring it up. But we have to live in the real world, and that's reality.

I can accept if someone disagrees about whether one of those two things will happen, but they'd have to show me why they're right (and frankly I can't even imagine a serious argument for that).

But maintaining that there's some sort of mystical Third Way just doesn't do it for me, especially when that Third Way is never described with any specificity. I'd like to highlight this observation:

There is no great reservoir of conservative righteous anger that is going to rise up and force a repeal.

Repeals under our system of govt. require Congressional votes. Yes, we can and should object loudly and repeatedly. But so far we can't summon up the votes to even defund outside of the House and last time I checked, that can't be done by only one house of congress.

Posted by: Cassandra at October 24, 2013 12:44 PM

The real problem here is public opinion. THAT is what needs to change.

Posted by: Cassandra at October 24, 2013 12:45 PM

Elise, it will become an untouchable entitlement even if it fails.

Reconcile these two statements for me:

"ObamaCare is fiscally unsustainable and will fail."

"If we don't stop ObamaCare now, we'll never stop it."

The gap between those two statements is even bigger than the one between my world view and Harry Reid's world view.

Posted by: Cassandra at October 24, 2013 12:47 PM

They are reconciled the same way that Detroit's Pension policy has already failed because it was unsustainable and it is still untouchable.

Hell, even filing for bankruptcy couldn't stop it. The court said "No".

The gap is that I don't believe fail = stop.

Repeatedly we've seen programs that fail only for them to get bigger. When that fails, they get even bigger. When that fails, they get bigger still. Detroit's economy is in shambles because the people there didn't make fail = stop.

Then what is the right course of action?

What was the right course of action after the Titanic got its holes?

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at October 24, 2013 02:21 PM

You haven't reconciled the two statements, Yu-Ain.

If the problem with ObamaCare is that there simply isn't enough money to run it, it will take care of itself eventually. The resolution may not be pretty (and will almost certainly be painful). But it's a self limiting problem because even if we tax the rich 100%, there still won't be enough money.

Posted by: Cass at October 24, 2013 02:40 PM

"Then what is the right course of action?"

What was the right course of action after the Titanic got its holes?

Abandoning ship - and look how well that worked out.

What does abandoning ship mean here? Secession for some States? Going Galt?

Or should we be like those who stood on deck and played "Nearer My God To Thee"?

I understand hopelessness over this: the mess is huge, no one who has any power has a clue, there's no place to go to get relief, to get someone to listen and say, "Yup, that's insane and wrong and will change". I'm being forced - gun to the head forced - to buy something I don't want - it doesn't get much crazier than that and the fact that so few people see that (or see a problem with that) is making me just as crazy as the people who put ObamaCare together. But the kind of hopelessness that says "nothing we can do here, damned if we do, damned if we don't" is really no different from the kind of learned helplessness Cassandra was decrying in a recent post about Sowell. And I don't do learned helplessness.

This is a bit over the top but for some reason this line popped into my head:

Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will/To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

Note it doesn't say "to win". In fact, a few lines previously it says:

It may be that the gulfs will wash us down:/It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,

We do what we can, however large or small, however ultimately successful or not. I see no way we can repeal this law and prefer to push for changes. But I'd rather see those who oppose this law fight for repeal than see them sit down and give up and call it being realistic.

Posted by: Elise at October 24, 2013 02:44 PM

What does abandoning ship mean here? Secession for some States?

I think that's the right solution, really. Peaceful and constitutional dissolution of the union, followed by erecting new unions of like-minded states. The Federal government is dragging everyone down.

We might also give some thought to how to avoid the problem in the future. In ancient Athens they believed that any electoral system was going to be impossibly corrupt: even before the innovation of using public funds to buy votes (or whole constituencies), the rich could use private funds to buy them. Their belief was that no system based on elections was sustainable because of the bedrock corruption native to such systems.

They still wanted to distribute power among the many, though, and not to have an elite or a tyrant. So they did something very similar to what William F. Buckley suggested with his 'first 300 people in the phone book' quip: they chose citizens to fill political offices by lot. You held the office for as long as you held it, and then you were replaced by a new lot.

You'd want to think about how to build the pool so that the lot was taken only among people who were qualified. Having established some basic qualifications for given offices, though, everyone who met those qualifications would go into the pool and the chosen would hold the office for a term.

It might make sense to have a bifurcated system, with elections for direct representatives responsible to their constituents for some functions, but lotteries for other offices. In general I would think you'd want representatives empowered specifically to limit government's power over citizens, and lot-chosen officers to exercise power (rather than restrain it).

Posted by: Grim at October 24, 2013 03:15 PM

What does abandoning ship mean here? Secession for some States? Going Galt?

That's what I'm trying to get people to spell out. It's one thing, venting. Translating that into actionable suggestions is another.

I understand the anger. My health plan hasn't gone away yet, but I am pretty sure it will. But anger - like despair - isn't a plan.

We do what we can, however large or small, however ultimately successful or not. I see no way we can repeal this law and prefer to push for changes. But I'd rather see those who oppose this law fight for repeal than see them sit down and give up and call it being realistic.

I'm fine with making all the noise we can about this, but I don't understand vague suggestions that somehow the law will be "killed" or repealed like the 3rd step in that math professor cartoon (and then a miracle occurred). I want to know what is being suggested, because I can't evaluate my options without knowing what they might be. I can't decide who to support or oppose if everyone's talking in generalities.

I don't see ObamaCare as worth abandoning ship for. Sorry, but I just don't. What does that mean, anyway? Moving to Phrance? Overthrowing the government (absent votes, that's what we're talking about). Moving to an undisclosed location and going into hiding?

Posted by: Cassandra at October 24, 2013 03:18 PM

I think that's the right solution, really. Peaceful and constitutional dissolution of the union, followed by erecting new unions of like-minded states. The Federal government is dragging everyone down.

Like anything else, this requires persuasion and a critical mass of folks who agree with you.

Which kind of brings us back to the original problem of not having either that critical mass or being able to persuade enough folks to jump ship. Honestly, I'm not trying to be argumentative - I'm asking so I can understand your thinking, Grim.

How do you propose this would happen? Doesn't it presuppose that enough people honestly believe they'd be better off?

Posted by: Cassandra at October 24, 2013 03:20 PM

I think dissolution is the one thing we who are politically active already broadly agree upon: only the way we phrase it is, "Those damned Republicans/Democrats can never be allowed to run anything ever again."

Well, that's an achievable dream. That dream can come true. We can all have the society we want, without worrying about 'those damned racist idiots from the TEA Party' / 'those socialists who ruined Detroit.'

I think a peaceful dissolution is possible -- not an armed secession like last time. We really could go our own way.

Posted by: Grim at October 24, 2013 03:41 PM

But it's a self limiting problem because even if we tax the rich 100%, there still won't be enough money.

Which is like saying the parasite will die once the host does.

Well, it's a solution.

What does abandoning ship mean here?

It means do what you need to do to secure your place in a lifeboat or go about trying to improvise one.

Pay off your secured debt as much as you can and make sure that you have the skills to ensure you are one of the lucky* ones with a job. Save aggresively (a large amount of devalued money is still greater than a small amount of it). I don't expect a sudden crash, I think it'll be a steady downward glide like seen in Detroit.

In short, do what you must to protect yourself and yours.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at October 24, 2013 03:46 PM

For a long time I thought it could be done within the Union. If we revitalized the 10th Amendment, and had a movement that restrained the Federal government to actually Constitutionally-enumerated powers only, we could almost do the same thing without dissolving the Union.

I no longer believe we can make that solution work. I thought the Left could be persuaded that the 10th was not merely a relic, but a part of the Constitution that could work to their benefit too. But now I see that they feel it would be actively hostile to their program to let the central government relax powers over the states to any degree. Just the opposite program is what they want.

So we cannot have that compromise. We might have the other.

Posted by: Grim at October 24, 2013 03:47 PM

There is such a thing as elections, and the primaries that precede them. No, we don't have the votes now. The question is how to get them. Continuing to elect Republicans who think Obamacare isn't really all that bad isn't going to get us there. Primaries will have to be staffed with candidates who understand how the free market works and how to communicate that to voters.

We'll get a bit of a leg up from the dramatic, gobsmacking failure and lies of the Obama administration in re Obamacare. That may be finally starting to sink in with some "independent" voters. The loss of insurance by 16 million Americans in the individual health market should be enough to wake some people up, make them take a look at why they really should consider a candidate's views on this disgusting piece of garbage. A sense of outrage combined with a sense of urgency has been known to get people to the polls.

Posted by: Texan99 at October 24, 2013 05:06 PM

Observations:
- the long view on Obamacare is that any kind of 'nationalization (either back door via ACA, or their desired single payer) will inevitably make health care more expensive, less readily available and lower quality for nearly all people . . . the goal needs to be to oppose, then repeal. That cannot happen w/o winning a few elections, and will be very, very hard if people become accustomed to the 'subsidies.'

- to Cass, the awful truth is that Harry Reid is a despicable, spiteful, selfish little shrew and old fashioned 'machine pol;' he does not give a d*mn for anyone or anything that does not serve his political purpose.

- to Texan99 at 07:36: I like your attitude!
> Stay.Mad.and.Vote!


- to YAG, hafta disagree; *when* things get bad enough people will wise up and become very angry at those that caused the problem. The underlying issue is too many promises to too many people to pay for, and eventually OPM will indeed run out; most likely in the form of an inability to borrow enough, or more likely in ruiness inflation from overuse of the printing press. Folks very well realized that 'Guns *and* Butter (LBJ),' dumping the Gold Standard (Nixon), 'Whip Inflation Now' (Ford), and 'make a list' (Carter) plus to be fair the first oil crisis bequeathed a nasty bout of inflation. It's coming again.
> slightly disagree w/ your strategy for dealing w/ inevitable inflation, BTW . . . :)

- to Elise, be of good cheer, the ACA can, and probably will be repealed in early 2017, and the wailing and nashing of teeth by lefty progs will raise a thunderous din. Dems passed Obamacare using budget rules in the Senate; no filibuster allowed, which means the same 51 seat majority can vote to repeal, repeal or replace or whatever.

Best Regards,

Posted by: CAPT Mike at October 24, 2013 09:33 PM

Dems passed Obamacare using budget rules in the Senate; no filibuster allowed, which means the same 51 seat majority can vote to repeal, repeal or replace or whatever.

Ah, thanks for the info.

T99, nothing would make me happier than for you to be right and me to be wrong. :+)

Having established some basic qualifications for given offices, though, everyone who met those qualifications would go into the pool and the chosen would hold the office for a term.

Sounds kind of like jury duty - an interesting idea.

In general I would think you'd want representatives empowered specifically to limit government's power over citizens, and lot-chosen officers to exercise power (rather than restrain it).

Interesting again. Perhaps a variation on the tricameral idea: one house to propose laws; one to pass the proposals (or not); only that exists solely to repeal laws?

Posted by: Elise at October 24, 2013 11:21 PM

I want my representatives fighting tooth and nail to repeal Obamacare. We should take every avenue to chip away at it, when the opportunity presents. I still hold out (slim?) hope for the numerous court cases making their way through the judicial system challenging the law (on other grounds than the one in which Roberts inexplicably decided it was constitutional). Right now, I'm okay. My employers has told us our existing policy meets ACA requirements, and so will not change. However, I have yet to see how the premium for said insurance will change: open enrollment hasn't started yet.

Right now, the husband gets his health care through the VA. It's something he earned with his service, but he's worried he'll be kicked off of it (means testing, access to other insurance options). Money is tight and I'm not sure we can afford to have him get insurance through his (finally full-time) job or adding him to mine. We'll look at it (and comparison shop), but I thank the Lord neither of us has to deal with the exchange.

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at October 24, 2013 11:44 PM

Elise:

That might also work, and really we should be talking about different ways of thinking about it. What I was thinking of was a Parliamentary form of government with a Civil Service, like the British have: but whereas the analog to the House of Commons and the heads of the departments of the Civil Service would be selected by lot (to avoid the corruption the Athenians saw, and to keep the Civil Service from overwhelming the elected branches as it has often done in Britain), the analog to the House of Lords would be elected.

This elected branch would be empowered both to repeal laws and Civil Service regulations it decided were out of line with the constitutional order, or the rights of citizens, but also to generally oversee in an adversarial way all the exercise of government. It would not be empowered to make laws, or to enact new regulations, or to exercise force of any kind against citizens not acting as a part of the government. It would serve a formally adversarial role to the government, with each member of this house responsible to their constituents and to a constitutional oath.

Posted by: Grim at October 25, 2013 06:40 AM

We should take every avenue to chip away at it, when the opportunity presents.

I agree and would like to see Republicans use the current mess to get something that weakens the law, even as the ultimate goal remains getting rid of the whole thing.

I still hold out (slim?) hope for the numerous court cases making their way through the judicial system challenging the law

One of those cases is going to create another dilemma for people who oppose ObamaCare. It's going to be hard to construct an argument that supports taking subsidies away from people who buy through the Federal exchanges. I know (and you know, I'm sure) that that's the way the law is written and so that's how it should be enforced. But enforcing it that way is going to look mean and unfair. (Another reason I like my idea of allowing subsidies for insurance bought directly from insurance companies.)

I'm glad to hear your work-related health insurance hasn't changed and hope the premiums don't increase too much. I have no idea how much of an impact ObamaCare will have on employer-provided health insurance with regard to requiring extra services, specific cost-sharing, etc. Good luck with your husband's situation. I so wish the Feds would stop trying to "help" us.

Posted by: Elise at October 25, 2013 09:40 AM

Grim - I'm somewhat uncomfortable with a government that doesn't have an Executive branch. Perhaps just what I'm used to - I'll have to think about that some.

Would you still have something analogous to the Supreme Court? If so, would the elected branch be able to overturn their decisions? How about term limits for the elected representatives (please say "yes")?

Posted by: Elise at October 25, 2013 09:43 AM

Ok, not realized Grim is posting about this idea over at the Hall. I'm going to drag my comment over there.

Posted by: Elise at October 25, 2013 09:45 AM

Elise, I hear you. I'm expressing more of a hope than a belief about how many voters will wake up and change their voting habits. I think the something-for-nothing rot is so deep that it's unclear whether the voting public can drag itself out of this. People vote according to what seems vaguely "nice" and tune out any information about what works. I don't see how any system that allows people to dispose of other people's money can work in the long term. We may have destroyed the American experiment with the Constitutional amendment permitting an income tax and with the idea that taxes could legitimately be used to redistribute wealth.

Mostly, these days, we try to figure out how to buffer ourselves against the rot and collapse. We have savings, but federal policy could easily destroy them--even before it gets to the point of confiscating savings outright, "for the greater good" (a la recent actions in Poland).

I'm still so angry that I've had to exercise scrupulous care to avoid contact with my sister, my neighbor, or my best friend, all dyed-in-the-wool progressives. I blame them personally. I can't talk to them until I can get a grip on myself.

I'm trying to think of it like this: I'm going to pay $5K a year for the privilege of watching this progressive debacle explode in the faces of its proponents over the next few years. The problem is, I'm just not sure it will. Too many people are soft on them.

Posted by: Texan99 at October 25, 2013 01:04 PM

Yes, I am familiar with the cases regarding subsidies and states (like the one I live in) which elected to opt out of creating their own exchange. I am of the opinion that the sooner this all collapses, the better. Insurance companies can only survive the "death spiral" for so long before they themselves die. Short-term pain for the survival of the private insurance industry, I believe, is preferable to trying to mitigate the pain at the expense of the industry's survival.

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at October 25, 2013 01:05 PM

*when* things get bad enough people will wise up and become very angry at those that caused the problem.

No, they will rise up against the "evil rich robber barons" who have been blamed as causing the problem. The Heinlein passage about "bad luck" comes to mind.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at October 25, 2013 03:50 PM

I'm still so angry that I've had to exercise scrupulous care to avoid contact with my sister, my neighbor, or my best friend, all dyed-in-the-wool progressives. I blame them personally. I can't talk to them until I can get a grip on myself.

Wise woman. I may have irreparably damaged a long-standing friendship over this issue (although actually, my friend may have). I was talking about what a mess the website was and how that made me sick with worry and furious because my policy had been cancelled and I wasn't sure (at that time) whether I had another route to buy health insurance.

My friend's response was to insist that NPR said things weren't that bad; that is was nonsense to say ObamaCare was a failure; and more along that line - including the classic, "Well, when Amazon is glitchy it's not a disaster, it's just a little frustrating". It was like she couldn't even hear my upset because acknowledging it might have put a crack in her "ObamaCare is wonderful" mindset.

I managed not to meltdown over the Amazon comment but then she came up with:

I'm sorry your insurance company cancelled your policy.

It's a good thing we were discussing this via email because if we'd been doing it in person, I would probably have started shaking her and screaming, "My insurance company didn't cancel my policy. You and your stupid President did." Instead I just told her I couldn't discuss this.

And, yeah, I blame every single one of my liberal friends for this personally - especially since none of them buy health insurance in the individual market. It makes me nuts. ObamaCare Derangement Syndrome. Or perhaps Post ObamaCare Stress. Huh. POS - that's probably it.

Posted by: Elise at October 25, 2013 06:55 PM

No matter what bad result flows from a stupid law, it's always the fault of some profit-seeking corporation. If the insurance company had just given us coverage for free without deductibles or harsh terms, the law wouldn't have had to force them to discontinue all the substandard coverage! And doctors should work for free!

The economic mindset of nursing toddlers.

Posted by: Texan99 at October 25, 2013 11:50 PM

Or maybe your friend thought your insurance company should have engaged in a little civil disobedience and re-issued your policy in violation of the law. I could get behind that: black-market insurance.

Posted by: Texan99 at October 25, 2013 11:52 PM

I need a "like" button for Tex's last comment :-P

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at October 26, 2013 12:47 AM

I was reading someone yesterday who argued that we can't afford to cede the social sphere on this issue. We have to speak up. I scrupulously avoid politics on Facebook, but I decided to post something extremely dry and factual about our insurance cancellation. I practiced first with a version on a WSJ website and got back a question about whether I'd voted for Obama and, if so, whether I regretted it now. I took that to mean that my message was in a sufficiently apolitical form and posted it on Facebook.

I've had four responses, all from people I know to hold conservative views. My many, many progressive Facebook "friends" haven't had a word to say. Not one bloody word. Which may be just as well, because I'm still not calm enough to respond to any nonsense from them on the subject. But strangers on comment forums have been trying it on me all day: I'm making it up, or I don't understand my coverage, or I'll see why my new coverage is great if I get a big medical bill (can they no ADD?), or I'm not sufficiently community-minded, whatever. You bet.

Posted by: Texan99 at October 26, 2013 01:03 AM

I've had one more response today: from a friend whose premiums are going up by $6,100 a year. He posted the same info on his own wall and got one response, from a friend who's happy she's getting a little discount for not smoking.

Well, that's alright, then.

Posted by: Texan99 at October 26, 2013 12:04 PM

a friend who's happy she's getting a little discount for not smoking.

Ah, yes, the "I've got mine, too bad for you" school of friendship.

And, as I've said elsewhere, one of the great dangers of ObamaCare is that by putting the government in charge of insurance coverage but leaving the insurance companies out there as front men, it makes it possible for all people to brush off horror stories as the fault of the insurance companies. That we really need to push back on.

I was reading someone yesterday who argued that we can't afford to cede the social sphere on this issue. We have to speak up.

I was looking for a quote to head a post this morning (didn't find one I liked) and ran across this:

Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could only do a little. ~Edmund Burke

Posted by: Elise at October 26, 2013 12:53 PM

I'm really surprised to be seeing, for the first time I can remember, a lot of people pushing back against the idea that this is all the fault of the insurance companies. Suddenly, most commenters seem to understand that it's the law causing the problem, that there's no free lunch, and that insurance companies have to pay attention to actuarial issues.

I'm not saying I don't hate many aspects of insurance companies; the billing issue gets completely out of hand when you try to make your policy into first-dollar coverage. But suddenly people seem to be understanding that for every subsidy there has to be someone else overpaying, which is not the insurance companies' fault.

And they'll all FURIOUS about the lying. I've never seen anything like the unanimity.

Posted by: Texan99 at October 28, 2013 12:06 AM