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Monday, Jul 28, 2014

The Right Stuff

A politics blog by Tom Jackson

Tom Jackson's baseball card - if he had one - would report he throws left, writes right. In his columns and blog, "The Right Stuff," southpaw Jackson provides insight into the evolving human condition from a distinctly conservative point of view.

In which Obama kills the individual mandate

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Congressional Democrats, who pretty much were making it up as they went along anyway, purposely invested the White House with wide discretion in the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Even so, want to bet they never guessed the very President by whose name the program is best known would single-handedly repeal it?

What’s that you say? Repeal it? He didn’t. He can’t. Can he?

Oh, c’mon. As if nearly three dozen previous delays or exemptions hadn’t already convinced you. He can and he did.

Last week, deep in a seven-page “technical bulletin” addressing how President Obama’s “keep your plan” variation would be carried out, was a paragraph and a footnote belatedly detected by alert sources for the Wall Street Journal editorial page. Tiny in print, the shoehorned add-in is massive in scope, effectively eliminating the individual mandate.

Yes, the very issue that aroused 26 state attorneys general to challenge Obamacare all the way to the Supreme Court, the very point on which Chief Justice John Roberts did the sellout bossa-nova, the program-critical trunk from which all the abominations hang, is over. Kaput. Done in.

Well, why not? Once dominoes start falling, it’s a shame to see them stop.

Wait. Like President Obama’s other recent fiddlings with Obamacare, this is only a “postponement.” In fact, it’s a two-fer: a postponement (through 2016) with an exemption. For “hardship” cases. Says the Journal:

“In 2013, HHS decided that ObamaCare’s wave of policy terminations qualified as a “hardship” that entitled people to a special type of coverage designed for people under age 30 or a mandate exemption. HHS originally defined and reserved hardship exemptions for the truly down and out such as battered women, the evicted and bankrupts.

“But amid the post-rollout political backlash, last week the agency created a new category: Now all you need to do is fill out a form attesting that your plan was cancelled and that you ‘believe that the plan options available in the [ObamaCare] Marketplace in your area are more expensive than your cancelled health insurance policy’ or ‘you consider other available policies unaffordable.’

“This lax standard – no formula or hard test beyond a person’s belief – at least ostensibly requires proof such as an insurer termination notice. But people can also qualify for hardships for the unspecified nonreason that ‘you experienced another hardship in obtaining health insurance,’ which only requires ‘documentation if possible.’ And yet another waiver is available to those who say they are merely unable to afford coverage, regardless of their prior insurance. [Why don’t they just drop cable and wireless phone service? – TRS] In a word, these shifting legal benchmarks offer an exemption to everyone who conceivably wants one.”

But the White House isn’t fooling anybody. The pretext is thinner than one-ply bathroom tissue, but none of what the Journal calls “Obamacare liberals” seems to care. Of course not. This monstrosity, stitched together in haste with more leftist hands on the needles – Congress members, staffers and lobbyists – than can possibly be counted grows more difficult to defend politically every day. (See: Sink, Alex, failed swing-district Democratic congressional candidate.)

President Obama has made the individual mandate his successor’s headache. Or not. The chief executive who gave his name to the fundamental realignment of the American medical industry just stuck a fork through Obamacare’s jugular. If he won’t enforce the individual mandate, nobody will.


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