Nemesis

Is Victor Davis Hanson’s long-time prediction finally approaching?

The young, inexperienced, but haughty Obama is a stereotypical figure right out of Greek mythology. Sometimes he is poor arrogant Icarus — flying too high on his frail and melting waxen wings. Or is he arrogant young Phaethon? The latter demanded the reins of his father’s sun chariot — only to end up in flames as his out-of-control divine car scorched the earth (unfortunately we are the earth). Often Obama seems a know-it-all Oedipus who believed that he was so smart that the far older world of chance and fate had to yield to his superior reason. Or is he vain Narcissus, so taken with his image in the reflecting pool that Nemesis allowed him to stare forever transfixed at himself?

…Then Nemesis struck. Not Republicans in the House, not right-wing judges, but Obama himself tabled much of the most important parts in the implementation of the bill. For now he has almost killed off his own offspring, not in the promised most transparent fashion in the history of the presidency, but cheaply and perhaps cowardly on a little read website at the start of a long holiday. It is as if the president can pick and choose which laws he administers and which he simply ignores, but is terribly ashamed to admit such.

I think that little stunt destroyed whatever little chance Obama had of getting an immigration bill to his liking. Anyway, read the whole thing.

[Early afternoon update]

As I said, you should really read the whole thing. It’s about a lot more than health care.

51 thoughts on “Nemesis

  1. Jim

    Obama himself tabled much of the most important parts in the implementation of the bill

    The employer mandate is hardly a “most important part” of the bill. There’s a decent case to be made that the bill would have been better off without it. But the GOP’s cynical political stance on Obamacare is utterly independent of what’s actually good or bad for Americans: a month ago Obamacare was bad because it has an employer mandate, and now Obamacare is bad because Obama is delaying the employer mandate.

    1. Chris L

      Onamacare is bad because it’s a shit sandwich without the bread. Delaying the mandate just means that the WH knows that too.

      1. Paul Milenkovic

        Gee, you said in two sentences what took me paragraph after paragraph.

        Are we allows to use the “S” word on Rand’s fine Web site if it results in a more concise post?

      2. Jim

        Delaying the mandate just means that the WH knows that too.

        No, it means that they know they aren’t ready to enforce the employer mandate in 2014. The important parts of Obamacare — access to insurance regardless of pre-existing conditions, subsidies to make it affordable, the individual mandate, Medicaid expansion — are all going forward (except for Medicaid expansion in some states, but SCOTUS ruled that wasn’t Obama’s call).

        1. Larry J

          Except the law states it’s to begin in 2014 and Obama is acting against the law. Does anything in that 2000+ page abomination give him the power to ignore the law?

          1. Jim

            It isn’t that simple. The law says that employers have to report information about health insurance, following rules to be issued by Treasury. Treasury announced that they are still developing the rules, and that obviously they wouldn’t hold companies responsible for failing to follow rules that don’t yet exist.

            This is “acting against the law” in the same sense that NASA failing to launch a new rocket on schedule, or the Pentagon failing to deploy a new weapon on schedule, is “against the law”.

          2. Rand Simberg Post author

            The EPA was perfectly happy to fine companies for not using a fuel that didn’t exist. As long as we’re going to have atrocious laws, why should Treasury be different?

        2. Gregg

          Actually it means the WH knows that execution of the employer mandate is bad news for the Dems in the 2014 elections.

          It also means that we live in a lawless nation.

    2. Paul Milenkovic

      “a month ago Obamacare was bad because it has an employer mandate, and now Obamacare is bad because Obama is delaying the employer mandate.”

      I guess, I think that you believe that the Health Care Reform is an undiluted Good Thing ™ if it were not for cynical, hateful Conservatives, Republicans, and Libertarians who are look at any way to score points against Mr. Obama, even if it means opposing a plan once advanced by the Heritage Foundation?

      Suppose, just suppose, that in anything as massive as the Health Care Reform, in anything that massive that was pushed through Congress with the aim of having Harry Truman’s dream as the current President’s personal legacy, that such a thing could, maybe, perhaps, have layers of unintended consequences?

      And one of the features of the legislation is a requirement for a one-size-fits-all health insurance because, dunno, mental illness is a proper illness and a very serious one at that, and a lot of people with a health plan lack mental illness treatment coverage, that a colonscopy, a cancer screening procedure that costs as much as a major automobile repair, that a lot of insurance plans don’t cover that or there are co-pays that discourage people from submitting to what is an unpleasant experience (apart from the drugs!), that those dang Catholics aren’t paying for contraception, and that is a grave injustice. That in a piece of legistlation that was meant to deal with the injustice of persons with zero health care coverage, you end up with a lot more health care coverage than many low-wage service jobs supply even when they offer health plans today? Because once you start mandating what is in a health plan, do you want people ending their lives who have untreated major mental illness? Do you want people skipping their colonoscopy because of the co-pay on top of the stuff to drink? That women would have to pay for contraceptive meds out-of-pocket where men don’t have such an expense?

      So when the Health Care Reform comes out of the legislative sausage making, that it is not affordable to many employers operating on thin margins? Jim, do you suppose that maybe, perhaps, could be, that many of these business people are . . . Democrats? That they don’t think ideologically like many of us here, including Rand our esteemed host, and just because they are in business doesn’t mean they don’t want government help for health care or they didn’t vote for Mr. Obama. But that the Employer Mandate, for businesses that didn’t offer health care before to offer it, or businesses that offer health care to have to include a lot more in the plan because of the mental health, the colonoscopy, and the birth control coverage, or that even if businesses offer all of those things because they are Progressive, fair minded, and not Roman Catholic-ists or Christian-ists, that their premiums are going up because of everything else being mandated and changed in the Health Care Reform package?

      So permit me, who is not a doctrinaire knee-jerk Libertarian who dismisses government involvement in health care automatically, permit me to explain that yes, “Obamacare was bad because it has an employer mandate (for more insurance or more expense for the same insurance” — it did so a month ago and did so now.

      That “Obama is delaying the employer mandate” does not make “Obamacare” “more bad” or “bad in a different way than a month ago.” You see, it is the same, unalloyed bad. The employer mandate for a variety of reasons is “bad”, or at least it is not the unmitigated Good Thing ™ you claim it to be, and that fact is unchanged. What has changed is the Mr. Obama, or he was out of the country, “his people at HHS” finally came to the “Oh s**t!” realization that the Employer Mandate is unworkable. They were probably getting “an earful” for months, not from Libertarians and Republicans, people not to be heeded anyway because they seek to obstruct and not cooperate (The government is us! Don’t be cynical! Make it work!).

      The Obama people were probably getting an earful from their own allies and voters from the business community, from people who actually had to make a payroll, not from the commentariat like us.

      I am for sure not saying that Obamacare is bad because the employer mandate is being delayed. I, and many around here I surmise, are saying that the Employer Mandate has been Charlie Foxtrot all along and that finally the Administration is admitting the obvious.

      But Jim, can you not see a tiny glimmer of bad on the horizon for the delay. Didn’t the President once tell us you have to “rip off the bandage” and sometimes tackle unpleasant tasks that need to be done.

      If Health Care Reform is truly a Good Thing ™, if realizing Harry Truman’s dream of Universal Health Care is to be Barack Obama’s singular legacy, why isn’t Mr. Obama “going all in”, doing every possible thing to get Health Care done and get this in place? Why is he messing around with Global Warming and touring Africa instead of “focusing like a laser beam” on health care?

      Why doesn’t he fire Ms. Sibelius and ask Mr. Romney to be HHS Secretary. “Your father served his country in time of need in that capacity, and your Country is calling upon you, Mr. Romney, to put aside partisan differences and to implement Health Care Reform.”

      1. Jim

        I think that you believe that the Health Care Reform is an undiluted Good Thing ™ if it were not for

        Not undiluted, but on balance a good thing, even with GOP obstruction. It could be an even better thing if the GOP wanted it to be.

        The employer mandate for a variety of reasons is “bad”, or at least it is not the unmitigated Good Thing ™ you claim it to be

        I make no such claim. I’d rather there not be an employer mandate. If the GOP agrees, and wants to improve Obamacare (and not just repeal it), I’m sure they could get a bill through that eliminated the employer mandate (which, FWIW, only applies to the 4% of businesses who have 50+ employees, 95% of which already provide health insurance).

        why isn’t Mr. Obama “going all in”, doing every possible thing to get Health Care done and get this in place?

        I’d say he is, within the constraints of a GOP that’s pursuing a Leninist “the worse, the better” approach to the law.

        Why is he messing around with Global Warming and touring Africa instead of “focusing like a laser beam” on health care?

        He’s “messing around” with climate policy and foreign policy because they’re important, and as chief executive he has a singular role to play on those issues. Do you think his personal involvement would somehow overcome the administrative obstacles to rolling out the employer mandate in 2014?

        ask Mr. Romney to be HHS Secretary

        That actually sounds like the sort of thing Obama would do (see: Bob Gates, Judd Gregg, etc.). But I doubt Romney would agree.

        1. Larry J

          Not undiluted, but on balance a good thing, even with GOP obstruction. It could be an even better thing if the GOP wanted it to be.

          The Democrats refused any and all input from Republicans when the law was being written, so why would they want to make the abomination better now?

          1. Jim

            Democrats refused any and all input from Republicans when the law was being written

            That is flatly false. Max Baucus spent months begging Republicans on his committee for input, and got zero votes for his trouble.

            why would they want to make the abomination better now?

            Because it would make life better for the citizens they serve.

          2. Larry J

            Bullshit, Jim. They wanted Repubicans to vote for the bill but rejected every input they made. The Democrats are solely and 100% responsible for this terrible piece of legislation. Let them suffer the consequences. Republicans don’t want it so why should they be responsible for helping the Democrats fix their mess?

          3. Jim

            They wanted Repubicans to vote for the bill but rejected every input they made.

            Give me one example of a Republican offering his or her vote in exchanged for a change to the Obamacare bill, and having the offer rejected.

            why should they be responsible for helping the Democrats fix their mess?

            Because they are responsible for governing the country.

          4. wodun

            A single vote for a single change? That is the problem Jim. It shouldn’t have been about making one change to get a vote but crafting the bill as partners. That was never alowed to happen because the Democrats didn’t want Republicans to have any power during the process.

            Don’t forget, Obama’s MO was, “I won” do what I say and be thankful I don’t set the mob on you. Remember when he was threatening businesses with mob action from Democrat activists? What you put all of Obama’s tyranical behavior together, it paints quite a picture of Obama’s leadership ethos.

        2. Gregg

          “It could be an even better thing if the GOP wanted it to be.”

          And there is Baghdad Jim RIGHT on schedule…spouting just what his handlers started to spout a few days ago (and as I predicted they would).

          You are good little lemming.

        3. Leland

          It could be an even better thing if the GOP wanted it to be.

          The GOP was left out of the debate and final wording. Nancy Pelosi saw to it. That the GOP could allow Democrats to fix the bill to the Democrats liking ignores the fact that Democrats have no interest in allowing the GOP to fix healthcare to the GOP’s liking.

          1. Jim

            The GOP was left out of the debate and final wording. Nancy Pelosi saw to it.

            That’s hilarious. Obamacare is the Senate bill. Pelosi had no say on the debate and wording of the Senate bill.

            Democrats have no interest in allowing the GOP to fix healthcare to the GOP’s liking

            There are three sorts of possible changes to Obamacare:

            1) Changes that Ds favor and Rs oppose
            2) Changes that Ds oppose and Rs favor
            3) Changes that Ds and Rs favor

            It’s true (and unsurprising) that Ds won’t agree to 2). The problem is that Rs won’t even agree to 3).

          2. Gregg

            Nevertheless Lelands point is correct in that the GOP was crowded out completely. This is an entirely Democratic Party monstrosity.

            So while you, Jim, are a good obedient little lemming who repeats the talking points of your Masters on cue, the fact is that the GOP had nothing whatsoever to do with crafting the law – they were crowded out and ignored and even humiliated in public by Obama himself, as well as the Senate and House Dems.

            So there’s absolutely no reason why the GOP should “try to make it better” – especially since there’s no way to make it better other than to utterly destroy it.

          3. Jim

            So there’s absolutely no reason why the GOP should “try to make it better”

            Even accepting your false retelling of history, you’re essentially saying that wounded R pride takes precedence over the lives of the citizens they serve.

            there’s no way to make it better other than to utterly destroy it

            Hogwash. Currently the employer mandate kicks in, in full force, at the 50th full time employee. If you have 49 employees and don’t offer insurance, you’re fine. If you have 50 and don’t offer insurance, you’re on the hook for $100,000 in penalties. That’s a huge disincentive to hire that 50th employee.

            A mandate that phased in more gradually — e.g. only applied the penalty to employees over the 50 threshold — would obviously be better.

            Similarly, the employer mandate only counts employees who work 30 hours/week, giving employers an incentive to keep hours under that number. A smarter mandate could kick in after total employee hours exceeded a threshold, eliminating the incentive to limit individual employee hours.

            Or you could get rid of the employer mandate entirely — you lose some revenue, but there’s less administrative burden, less disincentive to hiring (by the tiny fraction of companies that have 50+ employees and don’t currently offer insurance), and less encouragement of employer-tied insurance.

            Your argument — that no changes to Obamacare can make it better — implies that the law as currently written is better than any slightly different alternative, that its framers managed to land their thousand-page bill precisely on a local maxima in the solution space. I don’t think you really believe that.

          4. Leland

            Obamacare is the Senate bill. Pelosi had no say on the debate and wording of the Senate bill.

            Wrong: PPACA was HR 3590 completely gutted in Conference Committee by then Speaker Pelosi.

            Jim, if you are going to lie, go somewhere you have credibility, and where people don’t actually remember what really happened. Here, we are going to call you out on the dumbass lies you propagate.

          5. Jim

            PPACA was HR 3590 completely gutted in Conference Committee by then Speaker Pelosi

            No, you are wrong. HR 3590 was an unrelated bill that the Senate repurposed as PPACA, and Pelosi had no influence on what the Senate turned it into. She then brought it up unchanged for passage in the House, so that there didn’t have to be a conference committee (because the GOP could have filibustered the conference committee result). Go read the legislative history:

            The Senate began work on its on proposals while the House was still working on its own bill (the Affordable Health Care for America Act); it instead took up H.R. 3590, a bill regarding housing tax breaks for service members.[191] As the United States Constitution requires all revenue-related bills to originate in the House,[192] the Senate took up this bill since it was first passed by the House as a revenue-related modification to the Internal Revenue Code. The bill was then used as the Senate’s vehicle for their health care reform proposal, completely revising the content of the bill.[193]

            With Democrats having lost a filibuster-proof supermajority in the Senate, but having already passed the Senate bill with 60 votes on December 23; the most viable option for the proponents of comprehensive reform was for the House to abandon its own health reform bill, the Affordable Health Care for America Act, and pass the Senate’s bill (The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act) instead.

            Jim, if you are going to lie, go somewhere you have credibility, and where people don’t actually remember what really happened. Here, we are going to call you out on the dumbass lies you propagate.

            Bold words from someone whose memory of “what really happened” is completely inaccurate.

          6. a reader

            If Jim declares something “obvious”, it must be true. Also, there is no room for disagreement regarding what Jim declares to be “best.” The GOP just hates their constituents. Jim, prophet of Obama, decrees it. Amen.

          7. Leland

            No, you are wrong. HR 3590 was an unrelated bill that the Senate repurposed as PPACA, and Pelosi had no influence on what the Senate turned it into.

            That’s just nonsense. The Senate can’t just make a House Resolution into anything they want it to be, at least not without House leadership support. That the Senate just threw out a House Resolution and substituted their own bill proves the point that at least House Republicans (and many House Democrats) were blocked from the discussion.

          8. Jim

            The Senate can’t just make a House Resolution into anything they want it to be

            You are just digging yourself in deeper. Of course the Senate can completely rewrite House bills without House permission — they do it all the time. Pelosi’s role was to bring the Senate-written bill up for an up-or-down vote — the House had no opportunity to amend PPACA before passage.

            That the Senate just threw out a House Resolution and substituted their own bill proves the point that at least House Republicans (and many House Democrats) were blocked from the discussion.

            Do you realize that you’ve flipped from arguing that PPACA was “completely gutted in Conference Committee by then Speaker Pelosi” to arguing that House Democrats like Pelosi “were blocked from the discussion”?

            The House did have the opportunity to discuss and write and pass its own bill, which had a public option. But once Scott Brown was elected, the only way to get any bill passed was to have the House abandon its bill (which would never have gotten a vote in the Senate) and instead hold a vote on the Senate-written PPACA. And that’s what happened.

          9. Leland

            Of course the Senate can completely rewrite House bills without House permission — they do it all the time. Pelosi’s role was to bring the Senate-written bill up for an up-or-down vote — the House had no opportunity to amend PPACA before passage.

            Correct. Which is why I wrote:
            The GOP was left out of the debate and final wording. Nancy Pelosi saw to it.

            The Senate didn’t listen to Republicans, because they had a 60 votes. Pelosi let the Senate fully amend a House Resolution to be something completely different from what the House sent to the Senate. Then Pelosi received the amended resolution and allowed no debate or modification, so nobody in the House could fix it.

            So, Jim, when you write lies like: “It could be an even better thing if the GOP wanted it to be.” You will be called on that BS in this forum. Count on it.

  2. PeterH

    In delaying the employer mandate, the occupier of the whitehouse has made it clear (if there was any doubt before) that he will set aside parts of law he finds inconvenient. At which point only the most foolish of congress critters would pass an immigration bill based on a provision that is supposed to patch flaws in the rest of the bill.

    Not that such bills are ever a good idea. Ideally each provision would stand on its own as good.

  3. Jeff

    >I think that little stunt destroyed whatever little chance Obama had of getting an immigration bill to his liking.

    Rand, that would assume the R’s could logically connect the dots, and I haven’t seen much evidence of that lately. (I envision a Far Side cartoon of Rubio struggling with a connect-the-dots picture, saying, ” 3-14-11-49… Dang!”)

    Jeff

      1. Jim

        Paul Ryan seems to still be pushing for an immigration bill. If Ryan offers a discharge petition, is Boehner really going to block it?

          1. Jim

            He only needs 20 or so Republican signatures. There are more than that many GOP House members who, like Ryan, think the party’s national prospects will be harmed if they block immigration reform again.

  4. George Turner

    Look on the bright side. If he can do this, he could have said that the mandates only apply to Republicans and Tea Party members, while the coverage only extends to Democrats, progressives, Occupiers, and members of the Communist Party USA. Although he hasn’t said so directly, as best we can tell, that’s actually how the policy is probably being implemented deep in the bowels of the IRS and HHS.

    1. Paul Milenkovic

      I think that Mr. Obama is finding that not everybody running a business is a Republican or TEA Party. There are a lot of Democrats and Obama voters in the business community, and I am thinking the Administration had been getting “an earful”, not in rants in places like this that they either ignore or encourage people to “troll”, but in the not public and publicized “face time” discussions with their own people such as contributors and bundlers.

    2. George Turner

      Yes, I’ll bet some CEO’s have been explaining that the massive donations they’d earmarked for the DNC, DLC, Tides Foundation, and MoveOn.Org will soon have to be redirected to health insurance companies, and that they themselves are completely blameless for it. ^_^

  5. Jim

    It’s about a lot more than health care.

    It’s about the author’s fervent wish that time prove him right about Obama. Outside of the conservative echo chamber, the odds don’t look good.

    1. Arizona CJ

      Jim, are you referring to the Obama who, when asked during the pivotal primary debate to sum up in his own words the greatest difference between himself and his then-rival Hillary Clinton, said, “Hillery’s health plan has mandates. Mine does not.”
      and often hammered Hillary on that very issue, decrying mandates.

      Or are you referring to the Obama who built Obamacare around mandates?

      1. Jim

        Yes, Obama incorrectly thought he could make health reform work without mandates, and then recognized his error and changed course. Hillary was owed a big “I told you so”.

        1. wodun

          No, Hillary deserves an apology and Obama deserves an I told you so. Sort of like Bush and all the nasty stuff Obama says about him.

      1. Jim

        Facts do reverberate.

        Like the “fact” that Obama was born outside the US, has a forged birth certificate, paid millions to hide his school records, etc.? Any sort of noise will reverberate, factual or not.

          1. Jim

            Where are mine or yours? They are private, and we didn’t have to pay anyone to keep them private. The “Obama is paying millions to keep his transcripts private” story was false from the beginning, but that didn’t stop it from bouncing around the right’s echo chamber for years (and apparently it’s bouncing there still).

          2. Rand Simberg Post author

            Mine are in my records. If I ran for president, and someone requested them, I’d provide them. I wonder why the president refuses to do so to this day? What is he hiding?

          3. Jim

            If I ran for president, and someone requested them, I’d provide them.

            Good for you. That doesn’t imply that everyone else should do the same, or that reluctance to do the same (something shared by most of the people who’ve run for president) implies anything suspicious. Remember that Obama was also reluctant to release his birth certificate, but evidently not because he was hiding anything (your speculation that someone other than BHO Sr. would be named as the father notwithstanding).

            The meme that Obama must be hiding something because he’s spent millions to keep his transcripts private is a widespread one on the right, despite being completely false.

          4. wodun

            Look at the stink Obama and the Democrats made about Romney releasing his lifetime tax returns don’t you think it is a little hypocritical to then not release some college transcripts?

            Of course it is not like Obama’s were leaked like Bush’s. Can’t wait to see people’s medical records being leaked by Democrat operatives.

        1. Leland

          Like the “fact” that Obama was born outside the US,

          Jim, layoff Michelle. We all know she said Kenya is Obama’s home country. That’s not the same as saying he was born outside the US. Your echo is off, stop it.

  6. wodun

    Makes one wonder if Jim still works for the campaign in an official capacity. Hey Jim, can you ask Obama to stop sending me emails? Not even sure how they got my email since I never filled out any forms except for reporting some fishy rumors to attackwatch.

    You know if a business did half the things the Obama campaign did, Democrats would be rioting OWS style. Well, businesses do do some of those things but while Democrats villify them they praise Obama. Guess ethics only apply to certain groups sort of like Obama ignoring the law when it suits.

    But let me help you out Jim. Obama controls the regulators who operate outside the law and congressional oversight. One of the perks of requireing an agency write their own regulations is that you can then order them to change the rules. The whole hands off, don’t know what is happening, not involved with any operations, must maintain separation to avoid conflicts of interest thing seems to be only applied when the Obama administration gets busted persecuting political dissidents or some other scandal. When it comes to this, Obama is perfectly happy to aknowledge ordering his staff to break the law.

    Is this the one agency that Obama has his claws into or would it be safe to assume he exercises this level of control with all of his appointees across all agencies? There certainly looks like a pattern…

  7. Gregg

    And of course we have more waivers (from CBS news):

    ” Some smokers trying to get coverage next year under President Obama’s health care law may get a break from tobacco-use penalties that could have made their premiums unaffordable.

    The Obama administration — in yet another health care overhaul delay — has quietly notified insurers that a computer system glitch will limit penalties that the law says the companies may charge smokers. A fix will take at least a year to put in place.

    Older smokers are more likely to benefit from the glitch, experts say. But depending on how insurers respond to it, it’s also possible that younger smokers could wind up facing higher penalties than they otherwise would have.”

    Of course it might have been helpful to READ the bill before voting on it. They just *might* have noticed:

    “The underlying reason for the glitch is another provision in the health care law that says insurers can’t charge older customers more than three times what they charge the youngest adults in the pool. The government’s computer system has been unable to accommodate the two. So younger smokers and older smokers must be charged the same penalty, or the system will kick it out.”

    Oops.

    So now you have the Administration reacting in a totally knee-jerk fashion:

    “The administration is suggesting that insurers limit the penalties across all age groups. The HHS guidance document used the example of a 20 percent penalty.”

    This is how you end up with total….BAD.

    And for lemmings who claim now – after the fact – that the employer mandate is no big deal, that is the biggest joke of the century.

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