‘ObamaCare both sucks and blows’
By John Podhoretz
February 11, 2014 | 10:51pm
I could rage on and on about Monday’s gobsmacking announcement that the Obama administration is once again unilaterally delaying a key aspect of its health-care law and what this act of astonishing royalism suggests about the president and his fundamental disrespect for the American system of checks and balances.
But I’m not going to. Instead, with all the dignity that a 52-year-old man and father of three can bring to the task, I will offer these observations instead:
Neener neener neener.
Nyah nyah nyah nyah nyah.
Face it, all of you who celebrated and wept and danced when it passed back in March 2010, all of you who viewed it as the historic moment of transformation for the United States: This law is a lemon.
As Bart Simpson once said, “I didn’t think it was physically possible, but this both sucks and blows.”
It’s what early computer geeks used to call a “kludge,” which Webster’s defines as “a system made up of poorly matched components.” It was a workaround solution to an enormous problem it is only going to make worse.
Remember: The law passed in March 2010. It was to go into full effect on Jan. 1, 2014. That means the administration had almost four years to get its ducks into a row. Four years. That was more time than it took us to win World War II, which we fought across three continents, a bunch of islands and two oceans.
And yet here we are, four years later, and the administration has spent the past six months effectively rewriting the law for both political and practical reasons.
It shouldn’t be able to do this, because it is, you know, a law. The president doesn’t write laws. Congress does. He signs them and it’s his job to implement them. If he can’t write laws, he can’t rewrite them either.
But he is, and without resistance. Someone would have to stop him from doing it. But Democrats won’t stop him from doing anything, and the changes he’s making actually do limit ObamaCare’s deleterious effects, so Republicans have no incentive to stop him.
The rewriting began even before the famous Web site made its debut on Oct. 1, 2013. A month earlier, Patrick Hedger of the conservative activist group FreedomWorks delineated 11 provisions in the health-care law the administration had unilaterally revised or delayed. (Another eight had either been repealed or defunded by Congress along the way; one was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.)
By far the biggest was a one-year delay in the so-called “employer mandate,” imposing fines on businesses that do not provide health care to their full-time workers. On Monday, that delay was extended to two years for smaller businesses — because, you know, once you delay something one year, why not two? Why not 10?
The way this is going, the administration could just repeal every provision of the law unilaterally and still claim its historic legislation had passed and was its signature accomplishment. After all, it will still be on the books. It’s the law. It just won’t be enforced, like the law that says you can’t pick your feet in Poughkeepsie.
The disastrous healthcare.gov rollout beginning in October led to a series of other delays and postponements.
ObamaCare apologists are at the ready with excuses and explanations: Republican obstructionism slowed things down. The constitutional challenges slowed things down. Resistance from GOP governors slowed things down.
Come now. The administration had untold numbers of federal employees and more than 1,300 days to do what it had to do inside its own shop to prepare. The law didn’t go into effect for 500 days after the Supreme Court refused to put it out of its misery in June 2012.
The simple fact of the matter is, it couldn’t get things to work because ObamaCare is unworkable. It’s a jury-rigged mess that needs about 300 moving gears to mesh perfectly for it to function at all. It’s pretty clear that it never will. (And, yes, I feel sorry for the millions of people the law has already harmed, and the tens of millions more that it’s set to harm.)
The question is whether we’re going to spend decades layering new systems on top of the kludge or whether we’re going to be sensible about this and throw the whole thing out. And start anew.
It is a painful moment for all those who believed, and still seem to believe, in the world-changing and epoch-making properties of the Affordable Care Act. To them I extend the world-weary sympathies of a man in middle age who knows the meaning of disappointment and loss . . .
Nanny nanny boo boo.