I’ve been writing mostly about college football since the election, but as good as college football season is going and as poor a direction as the country is headed who can blame me? Well, with what is happening this week, I feel the need to at least mention the battle ensuing in Washington.
Obamacare (Affordable Care Act) officially takes effect on October 1 and the Republicans in Congress are fighting a near impossible battle to stop it. The reason it is such a tall task is not because it’s a great bill with public support. On the contrary, it “will increase the average individual-market insurance premiums by 99% for men and 62% for women.” In North Carolina, where I live, “individual-market rates triple for women, and quadruple for men” (Forbes). It is increasing more rapidly for men because the bill makes it illegal to consider gender/sex in cost-based pricing, although this is a useful variable to include in the cost predictive regression. We see it used in car insurance where men rightfully pay more because, on average, they are mostly costly to insure for automobile insurance. Making it wrong here and not there, is sexist on it’s face, but I digress. It also entails the young subsidizing the old and those without pre-existing conditions subsidizing those who do.
By any market-oriented, common-sense, perspective Obamacare is an unmitigated disaster. Even Blue Cross Blue shield is running commercials warning: “Obamacare will cover more people, and that’s a good goal, but it will push costs up with eight new taxes.” Those who wrote the bill seem to lack or be ambivalent to economic realities while those who support it didn’t understand it–hence Nancy Pelosi saying “We have to pass it to find out what’s in it.” That takes me back to my argument that most Americans should choose not to vote, but that’s another story (which you can read here).
One of the big problems with the bill is that it imposes fines for hospital readmission. This adds additional burdens to hospitals and has resulted in some of the best hospitals being forced to lay workers off. This includes the Cleveland Clinic and Wake Forest Baptist. Additionally and maybe worst of all, it forces employers to offer health insurance to employees. At a certain point, paying the required wages, payroll taxes, unemployment insurance, social security, PLUS healthcare is greater than the value an unskilled laborer provides. This is realized in the mass layoffs and decrease in hours of employees. Even SeaWorld is planning to scale back their work force (and this article is from the Huffington Post so you know it’s a fairly liberal publication).
The GOP in congress are trying to pass a continuing resolution that funds the government, but excludes money for Obamacare. However, with Democrats in control of the Senate, they will most likely take the house bill, add in funding for Obamacare, and pass it back to the Republican controlled House of Representatives where the onus will be on them to either pass the bill or risk “shutting down the government.”
Here’s the thing, “shutting down the government” is incredibly over-hyped. True, the media will go crazy and blame the Republicans, but Social Security checks still go out, military servicemen still get paid, all the essential things the government does will still happen. It’s not as if terrorists will be running wild. Of course, this isn’t a long-term solution, so here’s what I think the GOP needs to do.
Once it becomes clear they will not be able to stop Obamacare, and that time will come, they should argue something to this effect:
Fine, you can put its funding back in, but you have to find somewhere (non-military) to remove the equivalent dollars that you are spending on it, and oh yeah, no exemptions, no political delays. If this is a good bill that you’re standing behind, stand behind it, and let’s to do it. Don’t delay it until after the election so the consequences from its failure (or success for that matter) are less profound. No exemptions for your backers either. The big companies you rub elbows with have to do it just like everyone else and don’t even think about excepting the AFL-CIO. No exceptions. Not for labor unions and certainly not for members of congress.
The GOP isn’t going to stop this bill, but if they make a point to the nation that this is an incredibly partisan bill that they did everything they could to stop, then when it hurts most Americans and grows more unpopular, they’ll reap benefits from fighting it. With Ted Cruz holding the Senate floor for over 21 hours, it’s awfully clear how much the Republicans want to fend off this bill.
“If it were a good thing, you would want it before the election not after.” – Ted Cruz
Additionally, our nation’s budget it in complete disarray. Obama now seems unlikely to ever sign a budget. No president has done this since budgets began being regularly passed and sent to the President (to be fair, this is more to the fault of the Senate than President Obama). If they can use this moment to get cuts in unrelated wasteful spending programs such as food stamps, the Lifeline Program (free cell phones), or a number of other areas of wasteful spending. That’s a big win.
Blocking exemptions and ending delays means the administration can’t buy off the support of labor unions or big business. Meanwhile, ending delays will hurt Democrats in the 2014 mid-terms. The GOP in Congress may not be able to stop Obamacare at this juncture, but there are some good things they can accomplish. They should focus on those.
That’s my rant for the month, hope you are still reading. If you’re still with me, please click the Facebook “Like” button on the right sidebar, and of course share your opinions in the comment section below. Thanks for reading!