To the average observer who isn’t a political junkie, it’s got to look downright psychotic for Barack Obama to issue a veto threat on Thursday evening against the very same measure he called for in a Thursday afternoon press conference. But that’s what happened, as the White House issued a formal veto threat against Rep. Fred Upton’s (R-MI) Keep Your Plan Act, muttering something about how it was a “brazen effort” to undermine ObamaCare. Nothing has ever been more sorely in need of brazen undermining.
The millions of Americans who are losing their health insurance won’t be happy to see Obama and the Democrats playing little political games with their lives. The headlines yesterday were all about Obama proposing a “fix,” but this morning they’re about him growling that he plans to veto the “fix.” Obama’s words are wind. This deeply unpopular President is badly miscalculating his position if he thinks he can impress anyone by pretending to be a tough guy who will “allow” this or that. He’s the incompetent bumbler who got us into this – incompetence is his defense against charges of mendacity. He’s in no position to dictate anything, and nervous Democrats looking at 2014 should know that he’s only exacerbating their political peril by striking a dictatorial pose.
That’s part of the reason he’s threatening to veto Upton’s bill: Obama wants to exercise dictatorial, unconstitutional power. He seems to get a personal thrill out of it, but we should be far past the point where any American feels like sacrificing their health insurance to let Obama play dress-up with his Fidel Castro costume. The rule of law has already taken far too much damage under him. This lawless executive must be reigned in.
Another reason is that Obama doesn’t really want to “fix” the insurance cancellation problem. On the contrary, he needs that to happen. He did this to you on purpose, America; that’s why he told the Big Lie over and over again, to fool you into electing him and allowing ObamaCare to pass. These insurance cancellations aren’t some unexpected consequence – they are a crucial Obama objective. His scheme won’t work if people have a real option to escape from it.
So what Obama’s “offering” is just a political trick to shift blame onto the insurance companies, not a meaningful reform option. His press conference yesterday was aimed primarily at terrified congressional Democrats – it was an audition to convince them he can pin the rap for all these canceled policies on his Little Partners in the private sector. They know it, too, which is why they (and the state insurance commissioners he also tried to blame for the crisis) pushed back immediately and forcefully.
In the wake of Obama’s press conference, some insurance industry sources have been grumbling that the President is essentially inviting them to violate federal law. He wants to be seen in public telling them, without legal authority, to do something they literally cannot do in most cases, and would find unacceptable from a business standpoint in others… and then he’s going to blame them for failing to address the problems his law created. At best, Obama’s “fix” would partially delay further insurance cancellations until after the 2014 elections, which is all he cares about.
Rep. Upton explained to Greta van Susteren of Fox News why his Keep Your Plan Act is substantially different than Obama’s functionally meaningless proposal:
Rep. Fred Upton of Michigan said on ???On the Record??? that Obama???s solution ???discriminates??? against some Americans because it only allows people to keep their current plans. Upton???s bill would not only allow Americans to keep the health plan they like, it would also allow others to purchase those plans if they wished.
???Ours allows ??? if a plan met the test, anyone can purchase it,??? he said. ???His plan is, in essence from what I understand, just people that had it and nobody else so it really discriminates against other folks.???
Upton also raised concerns Obama would change the terms of who can keep their insurance again in the future.
???We want certainty to this. Who???s to say he doesn???t change his mind a week or two or maybe even a few months down the road,??? Upton said. ???That???s why our bill is a better answer ??? because who knows how his executive order is going to be tested????
Upton makes a very important point there. Remember: tyranny is whimsical. What the tyrant Obama gives today, without legal authority, he can take away tomorrow. He’s acting entirely out of political self-interest, so his decrees will change as his political fortunes wax and wane. On the other hand, laws passed and amended in accordance with Constitutional procedure carry more certainty. The process of implementing them is deliberate – it takes time, involves public debate, and is subject to influence by our elected representatives. The results aren’t always great, especially when the Constitutional restraints on power are as casually ignored as they have been for decades, but they are far more stable than Obama’s concept of benevolent dictatorship. As the millions of people Obama was only yesterday dismissing as irrelevant distractions can attest, benevolent dictatorship isn’t so great for those who lack the dictator’s favor, or the political connections necessary to score waivers from his decrees.
Personally, I think it’s a bad idea for Republicans to get their fingerprints on any ObamaCare “fix” – the offer on the table should be full repeal. The Upton bill is just a temporary patch on a rotten system – why are we wasting time on one-year fixes? And even though the Keep Your Plan Act is more generous than Obama’s sham proposal, it still amounts to making insurance companies an offer they can, and will, refuse. Blame will be shifted to the private sector with bipartisan approval, taking heat off the President and his program.
Republicans should unite behind a few spokesmen, ideally including Senator Ted Cruz, whose strong stand against ObamaCare is looking better and better to the American people. Set aside the normal Republican tendency to swallow Democrat media narratives and flagellate themselves, and remind all those people losing their insurance plans – and the tens of millions in the employer market who will shortly be joining them – that the Democrats shut the government down to make sure this would happen to them. All of these ObamaCare “fix” proposals were contained in the Republican bills to fund government that Democrat Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid killed, one after the next.
Obama’s press conference yesterday was fairly obviously intended to divert frightened Democrats from seeking political cover by voting for Upton’s bill. Republicans should not lift a finger to provide that cover. It will make Obama look bad if his party supports the Upton bill, but he proceeds to veto it… but that sets vulnerable Democrats up to run against their unpopular President and his health-care debacle in 2014. There’s no reason for the GOP to help them set that table. Using Obama’s veto threat as the reason for withdrawing the Upton bill, right before the vote was scheduled to take place, would be the smarter play. That way, Obama pays the desired price, Democrats get nothing, the Republican repeal message is not diluted, and full-blown eye-rolling panic will erupt on the left side of the aisle.
Above all, the Republicans should make it clear that there’s no way to “fix” ObamaCare, and no way to halt the damage without a Republican Senate. After all, as Senator Cruz can explain, the GOP tried to save America from this, and Democrats used their control of the Senate to thwart those efforts. Republicans would withdraw the Upton bill with a heavy sigh, pointing to Obama’s veto threat as one more sign that the Democrat Party is an intractable obstacle to real reform. Do you want to keep your health insurance? Then vote Democrats out of office in 2014. It’s that simple.