A few weeks back, rightbloggers got a lot of traction out of the revelation that under Obamacare, insurance companies could kick some beneficiaries off their existing health care plans, and even more traction after they dug up a number of citizens who claimed that as a result they’d be paying more for less appropriate coverage (or at least they assumed they would, since they hadn’t bothered to check).
No one knew how many people were in this situation, but the brethren asserted that it was in the tens of millions at least, and thus Obamacare, a few weeks into implementation, was a hopeless disaster. So last week Obama went out and said, okay, you can keep your health care plans if the insurance companies will let you. And rightbloggers said, okay cool, thanks for taking care of that Mr. President.
The insurance companies’ protective association naturally pitched a shit-fit — they’d thought they were going to get away with dumping people’s plans (as they have been doing since time immemorial) and blaming it on Obama, and now here they were back where they started, albeit vastly enriched by the insurer-friendly federal program.
Equally enraged were the rightbloggers, but for a different reasons. Not that they weren’t sympathetic to the giant insurers — “some of the left-wing commentators I’ve seen seem to be under the impression that health insurers make fabulous profits,” wept Megan McArdle for Blue Cross et alia. But mainly they were mad that that the grave injustice on which they’d been hammering Obama appeared to be going away. By pretending to care about beneficiaries, conservatives had driven Obama’s poll numbers to record lows; now, just when they were ready to put the knife in (maybe with a Benghazi revival), suddenly they were in danger of losing this advantage.
Some attempted to fashion new outrages as a stand-in. Jonathan V. Last of the Weekly Standard had a hot one: “Penalty for Marriage in Obamacare,” he declared. “A married couple can get Obamacare subsidies if their income is less than 400 percent above the poverty line. But because the federal poverty level for married couples is less than double the level for individuals, a couple that lives together without getting married can make more money than a married couple, yet still get Obamacare subsidies.”
In other words, it’s like the marriage penalty in U.S. taxes, and since everyone hates taxes and wishes they didn’t exist, then Obamacare shouldn’t exist either. To make things worse, it proved Obamacare is anti-marriage, and since “virtually all of the research shows that stable marriages increase economic output,” said Last, that meant Obamacare was also anti-growth. “It’s not clear whether this perversity is accidental or by design,” finished Last. “But it’s yet another line item in the argument against what is clearly the most catastrophic piece of legislation in modern American history.” Clearly!
More popular, though, was the argument that fixing the law was illegal, and national health care therefore impossible. The brethren enlisted their greatest legal minds to explain why this was so, including John Yoo. That’s right, the same guy who’s in the history books for telling George Bush torturing prisoners is legally OK returned to National Review to tell readers that the insurance fix, unlike waterboarding and testicle-crushing, is off-limits. Yoo’s McGuffin was that “any regulation must undergo what is known as ‘notice and comment’ under the Administrative Procedure Act.” The beauty part for rightbloggers is that, unlike Yoo, Obama is not immune from prosecution.
Victor Davis Hanson compared the fix to “all sorts of other ‘settled’ legislation that, for political reasons, [Obama] simply chose not to enforce,” such as “the Defense of Marriage Act,” during his gay reign of terror.
“Imagine if a Republican president decided unilaterally to ‘do everything we can to fix’ abortion law,” unfortunately began Investor’s Business Daily, and no, it didn’t get better from there. IBD also accused Obama of “spaying” and “tear[ing] up” the Constitution.
The fix is “forcing insurance companies to help advertise for Obamacare by letting customers know that there’s an Obamacare marketplace where they can purchase (or get subsidized) health care coverage,” wrote an appalled Daniel Halper at The Weekly Standard. Plus, the conversation stopper: “As Texas senator Ted Cruz says, the president cannot fix an unfixable law.” It’s in the Bible.
So deeply did the brethren believe that only total eradication of national health care would suffice that when House Republicans moved to pass a bill that would only gut rather than kill Obamacare, some of them smelled RINO. “The GOP should not be working to ‘fix’ Obamacare,” protested McCarthy. “…They should be working to scrap Obamacare now, while the political momentum is swinging to their side.” (NR‘s editors, on the other hand, rejoined that “some on the right are skeptical of the bill because it repairs rather than repeals Obamacare, but it would really be a step toward dismantling.” Now, who says conservatives don’t like a healthy debate!)
But most of them just went with negative nouns and adjectives. It has in recent weeks become de rigueur for rightbloggers to only reference Obamacare with the most extraordinarily unflattering terms in their vocabularies, e.g. “disaster,” “catastrophe,” “train wreck,” etc., showing either great message discipline or an equally great lack of imagination, depending on how you view it.
After Obama’s announcement, the schtick persisted. “The collapse of ObamaCare becomes inevitable,” mua-ha’d Silvio Canto Jr. of Babalu. “Democrats flee from ObamaCare disaster,” headlined sore loser/Fox correspondent Scott Brown. “Unfolding Like a Greek Tragedy,” said Pastorius of the Infidel Bloggers Alliance, who probably thinks that means it stars Telly Savalas.
Things got weirder when Michael D. Shear at the New York Times told perplexed readers that “the disastrous rollout of [Obama’s] health care law… raises questions about his competence in the same way that the Bush administration’s botched response to Hurricane Katrina undermined any semblance of Republican efficiency.” Shear even found someone to go on record with this comparison: “A top national security official in Mr. Bush’s second term.”
Rightbloggers naturally took this to mean the Times said Obamacare is Katrina — something only really believed by Louisiana Republicans.
“NY Times: Rollout Failure is Obama’s Katrina,” headlined John Sexton at Breitbart.com. “NY Times Calls Disastrous Obamacare Rollout Obama’s ‘Katrina,'” reported Weasel Zippers. “New York Times compares ObamaCARE rollout to Hurricane Katrina,” roared Fire Andrea Mitchell. (We’re so old we remember when Haiti, the BP oil spill, et alia, were Obama’s Katrina.)
“Some on the Left chafed at the comparison,” wrote Twitchy, Michell Malkin’s alternative-universe Twitter, “…But many others thought the Times‘ comparison was rather fitting, or not harsh enough on Obama.” One of their examples: “Obamacare is causing FAR more harm than Katrina or Iraq War.”
No really — a lot of them actually seemed to think government inaction during the death and devastation in New Orleans wasn’t as bad as the introduction of a national health care system. “[Bush] didn’t give a bunch of speeches calling for New Orleans to get flushed like a giant toilet. He didn’t sign a law to make it happen,” yammered The Daily Caller’s Jim Treacher. “What if Bush and the Republicans had created the hurricane, and the Democrats adamantly believed it would be better not to have a hurricane?” asked Ann Althouse
“Obamacare isn’t Katrina,” countered Matthew Continetti at the Washington Free Beacon. “It’s Iran-contra.” This at first struck us as strange because, for one thing, rightbloggers generally consider St. Reagan the injured party in Iran-contra, and for another, the comparison suggests Joe Biden will be elected President in 2016. What Continetti said he meant, though, was that “Iran-contra ended the Reagan presidency. His major second term accomplishments, tax reform and a now infamous immigration amnesty, occurred before the scandal broke.” Thus, he posited, “it’s not hard to see how the implementation of Obamacare might mark the end of the Obama Revolution as well.” Wow, that does sound bad — that means every Democrat will be invoking Obama in his or her speeches for the next 20+ years!
These forays into political surrealism were celebrated with frequent assurances that not only Obamacare but Obama was finished, and Republicans rool OK. “Calls For Impeachment Over Obamacare Deception Begin,” reported John Hawkins of Right Wing News (as opposed to the Calls for Impeachment that began in 2009 and have never let up). While “it is highly unlikely that Barack Obama will ever be impeached,” said Andrew McCarthy, “It is certain that he will never again be trusted.” “Was Benghazi Not Enough? Obama Should Resign over Obamacare,” hilariated Roger L. Simon of PJ Media. (“I realize this isn’t the first time I have called for Obama’s resignation,” he added. Love the callback, wild man!)
Charles Krauthammer did them one better, declaring that Obamacare would take down liberalism itself. “At stake, however, is more than the fate of one presidency,” he said. “…at stake is the new, more ambitious, social-democratic brand of American liberalism introduced by Obama, of which Obamacare is both symbol and concrete embodiment.” Among these social-democratic evils: “new entitlements” such as “universal preschool.” Thank God America may be spared that!
At the Washington Examiner, Byron York agreed Republicans would benefit greatly, because “Republicans opposed the bill unanimously” when it came out. It’s true they did, and have opposed it all along — but not, at least so far as they have let on, for the logistical reasons cited herein. They opposed Obamacare because it was socialism; because it was going to murder old people with “death panels”; and because it was unconstitutional, until the Supreme Court said it wasn’t (though some of the brethren yet persist in this assertion).
Or, to strip away the many coats of bullshit, they opposed it because it was Obama who got the idea from Mitt Romney and the Heritage Foundation rather than vice-versa, and because it created a lucrative insurance industry alliance with Democrats that the Republicans think is theirs by right. That’s what this is really about; that millions of Americans would, under repeal, return to our legacy Pay Or Die national health care system is just the icing on the cake.